Greetings from the Underground!
In case you had not noticed, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has finally been unleashed on the world. It is a film that was willed into existence by fans on the internet. The main question many people asked was, will it actually be an improvement? I am happy to say that for this fan of the DCEU, the answer is an emphatic YES!
At its core, the story has not changed. The world is still mourning the loss of Superman while Batman is trying to make up for his mistake by assembling a group of heroes to defend Earth from the coming alien attack. Steppenwolf soon arrives with his army. The out of towners are looking for the three mother boxes that they can use to change the earth into a hellish world in the name of Darkseid. What has changed to the story is character depth, pacing, and the rating of the film.
One of the biggest improvements is the upgraded story of Cyborg, sharply portrayed by Ray Fisher. Not only does Cyborg get more screen time, but the time is used wisely. We get more backstory for the character and a better understanding of his motivations. The scenes between Cyborg and his father, played by the talented Joe Morton, felt real. These scenes had weight and emotion. As a father myself, I found them moving. We get a better told story for Superman, a character who talks of getting a second chance. I felt Snyder may have been speaking to the audience through Supes. I have loved how Snyder has handled this character in the DCEU and Henry Cavill has done a solid job of making the character his own.The idea of Batman truly feeling sorry for the events in BvS and his attempt to correct that mistake is handled with better care. They also adjusted his voice modulator so it wasn’t so deep, which was a welcome change. Aquaman is given more substance than being just a water dude with a rogue, biker attitude. Wonder Woman is written as a stronger voice of reason and there is an improved dynamic between Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne. The Flash, while still the main source of comedy, is not as much of a goofball, just a young guy in over his head and learning. We even get more depth for Steppenwolf, making him a better villain.
There is a great balance of comedy, heart, and darkness in the script. Zack Snyder’s Justice League flows like a river. So much of the story makes more sense because it is given time to breathe and evolve naturally. The story was told as intended and not just for cheap thrills. The action scenes are still a wild ride but they felt better structured in the editing. The score was beautiful and fitting. Scenes from the 2017 JL and the latest version blended seamlessly together so nothing felt shoe-horned in. The four-hour runtime was barely noticeable because I was so engrossed in the story. Breaking the film up into chapters was a smart choice. It allows viewers to pause or step away if needed and makes it feel no different than binge watching a tv show. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a true movie that stays consistent in its tone and voice. While it is a vast improvement over its predecessor, it does still have some issues.
The issues are mostly technical. The CGI in the battle with the Amazons was rough in spots. It is still a wonderful sequence but could have used some polish. I would also not recommend doing a drinking game for every slo-mo scene as you will pass out in the first hour. I loved these scenes because you could see the true artistry in the effects put into them, but they were excessive. The extended nightmare world scene teased in the trailer is in the film but it was placed awkwardly. Some may be put off by the 4:3 aspect ratio. According to the disclaimer, the aspect ration was an artistic choice. I didn’t have a problem with it at all. In fact I would say I was able to focus on everything going on better because of it. I suspect that this could also have been a choice because it was being released to streaming rather than to theaters. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also a 16:9 version released later on Blu-ray.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is as epic as the last two chapters in the MCU’s Phase 3 and feels like we are getting the true vision of its creator. One of the underlying themes is second chances which is very fitting. Not all filmmakers get a second chance to tell the story they wanted. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a prime example of making the most of that second chance when you get it.