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Zack Snyder has established quite the reputation for himself as one of the most unique DC film directors of all time. That’s not saying that his films are bad or good, they’re just really different from a lot of other superhero films you can find these days. The Justice League film back in 2017 however, has to be one of his most interesting projects considering he only worked on it a tiny bit, but his original vision is what made people wonder what he had in mind for this huge film.
The reason that the Justice League back in 2017 had two directors, Zack Snyder and Joss Weadon, was because Snyder’s daughter Autumn passed away. This left Weadon to work with what Snyder was going for and he did his best, but critics and audiences weren’t really happy with it besides a very select few. However, just until recently on March 18th, 2021, Zack Snyder released his full uncut version of Justice League on HBO Max as an exclusive, and while it was a very clear passion project and everything a DC fan could want, it isn’t without its slight flaws.
I’ll try my best to refrain from spoilers, but I’ll most likely have to spoil something to give the best analysis on this film. With that in mind, overall, this film did a fantastic job of establishing motives for every single character and gave tons of depth to them all. Compared to the 2017 version, motivations seemed half given and as an audience member, I was always thinking to myself, ‘why are they doing this thing? Guess I just gotta take their word for it.’ With the Snyder cut, any viewer can understand the motivations behind choices and why different characters do what they do without it being an easy decision.
With clearly established motives, however, there can be hindrances to that choice as some scenes were dragged out a little bit too long. While some scenes were dragged out because Snyder was adding in his own personal touch like more dramatic music for Aquaman walking to the ocean or Flash saving that woman from a car accident. Some other scenes were an ‘okay, we get it’ moment, but they weren’t painfully dragged out to the point where I was wondering when the scene was going to end. If a movie is four hours long, a lot of dialogue should be expected and that’s why Snyder made the excellent choice of dividing this film into six parts and one epilogue, so people can watch at their own pace.
Something that stands out is the small bits of comedy in this “dark” DC film. It doesn’t get to the point of being annoying or overused and those funny moments feel like a breath of fresh air in such a non-vivid film. Snyder did choose to shoot this in 4K with really low vividness to start and I don’t know if my eyes adjusted to it or it was like that the entire film, but I felt almost as if it should pop a little more. Though as a positive, the final battle doesn’t have that annoying red filter like the 2017 version did, and having it take place at night was a fantastic choice.
This film also has its fair share of awesome and beautifully made scenes, the best of which has to be Flash’s scene in the end where he runs so fast he reverses time to give everyone a second chance. There’s also the brilliant work of cinematographer Fabian Wagner who did some incredible camera work. I didn’t expect myself to be as impressed as I was with a lot of the establishing shots and group shots, but they were fantastic. It’s also worth mentioning that they had 4 years to develop and work on the CGI for this film and it doesn’t disappoint.
Though, where I start to take issue with this film is how much of a “nerd” for DC you need to be to understand what’s going on exactly. Watching this film with my mom and little brother proved to be a good idea as my mom told me that she would’ve been completely lost with what was going on if I hadn’t told her. She didn’t understand who most characters were and what they could do, so she didn’t even know why I looked so excited when Martian Manhunter showed up out of nowhere. So, keep in mind you might need to know a little bit about these different characters before watching if you have little information about comic book heroes.
Generally, it’s really hard to believe that a single film could stir up so much controversy. There wasn’t even political controversy on what’s appropriate to show in films or how far is “too far” in film these days. This was a controversy that was so absurd and so incredibly nerdy, that it sparked a verbal war of which comic franchise is better: Marvel or DC. What this war would ultimately “come down to” is this cut of Justice League and this cut IS the idea of what this franchise could’ve been.
The compromise that certain fans of both franchises have come to is that Marvel makes better movies and DC makes better comics. Though it’s not all black and white like that as DC films like Shazam! and Wonder Woman were incredibly positive with their feedback and box office. The Snyder cut, however, has been a massive mystery for the past few years because it seemed as if DC was trying to make their own cinematic universe and this film seems to be the DC version of Avengers: Infinity War, so don’t be surprised if you’re left wanting more.
Overall, I do firmly believe that the Snyder cut needs to be given a chance by all because this film might be four hours long, but it’s one really solid film and will leave you wanting more. This is almost the equivalent to Marvel just saying, “no, we’re not gonna make a sequel to infinity war.” The audience is left with many unanswered questions with the Snyder cut and it would be a shame for this film to have its embarrassing 2017 self and its interpretations of it give this one not enough viewers and positive feedback to give it a sequel.
The reason I think this is because this film is a prime example of what passion from a director looks like and how far comic book films have come as a genre. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this film if you’re not really into DC characters, but if you just want a fun, emotional, well-motivated, action-packed film, and have four hours to spare, then have at it all you’d like. Though, do keep in mind that this is rated R for intense scenes, a few F-bombs, and also a very mild bit of gore, so watch with viewer discretion (and popcorn).