It’s fair to say that the original cut of the Justice League movie did not do well. Not only was the film criticized by fans for its inconsistent tone and story, it also became a huge box office flop. This result was most likely caused by the movie’s troubled production, with Joss Whedon being hired to do extensive reshoots when director Zack Snyder stepped down over halfway through production.
Shortly after the film’s abysmal theatrical run, fans from all over the world joined the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, demanding Warner Bros. to release a Director’s Cut of Justice League that was true to Snyder’s vision for the film.
It took a while, but now we’re here. What was once a pipe dream is now a reality as Zack Snyder’s Justice League (aka the Snyder Cut) is finally about to release. This director’s cut is 100% Snyder’s vision for the Justice League, and it includes a ton of material that was cut from the 2017 theatrical version. It also has a key new sequences filmed specifically for it, as well as revamped effects and music.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League promises to be the definitive version of the Justice League movie. But at four hours long, is it worth the watch and does it promise to be a totally new movie? Find out here in our review!
A More Cohesive Story and Tone
One of the main issues of the theatrical cut was its length. At only two hours long, the film was not able to give the heroes justice (pun not intended), especially the likes of Cyborg. But with the Snyder Cut’s extended running time, all the heroes are given time to be fleshed out and developed.
The heroes that got the biggest boost in the Snyder Cut are Cyborg and The Flash. In the theatrical cut, their stories and motivations were pretty much glossed over so that everything can be crammed into two hours. In the Director’s Cut though, Victor Stone and Barry Allen were given a lot more scenes which helped explain what drove them to team up with Batman and company.
Aside from the heroes, the villains’ goals were also explained much better. While the Steppenwolf in the original version didn’t have much impact, he is made much more fearsome in the Snyder Cut. It also helped that this extended version actually gave us a look at Darkseid, making the threat that the Justice League is facing all the more perilous.
Character backstories and motivations aren’t the only improvements in the Snyder Cut though. While the core story pretty much progresses the same as the 2017 version, having Snyder at the helm and having a much longer running time meant that the story was explained much better. While in the original I found myself confused at times why stuff was happening, that was not the case in this Director’s Cut. Plus, there were even some small additions through the film that made the story more engaging, such as The Flash and Superman’s involvement in the final fight sequence (though I wouldn’t want to spoil what exactly happened).
As an icing on the cake in terms of story, having Snyder be in charge for the whole movie worked wonders for the film’s tone. In the 2017 theatrical cut, Whedon and the studio tried to insert a lot of comedic elements which didn’t exactly work, especially when viewed after the previous Snyder DC films. Zack Snyder’s Justice League meanwhile, is a more serious affair which, sure, there are still some funny moments, but the tone overall is way more cohesive.
With Snyder at the helm, this version of Justice League tells a wholly complete story than the one 4 years ago.
Major Technical Improvements
The story isn’t the only problem with the first Justice League cut as, personally, I found the special effects and CG to be “too much” visually. For instance, the final fight sequence looked way too harsh with its red lighting. Plus, Steppenwolf’s design just didn’t look great.
Thankfully, the Snyder Cut rectified these issues. For one, a lot of the battle sequences have much improved visuals. The final fight specifically, looked way more natural, making for better viewing. Steppenwolf’s design was also revamped which, for my eyes, was a major improvement.
Aside from visuals, another technical enhancement in the Snyder Cut is the soundtrack. While the original cut’s soundtrack had some interesting moments, it was a major departure from the previous DC film scores. But with the Snyder Cut, Junkie XL made an all-new soundtrack that sounded better and made for a more seamless fit with the scenes.
One interesting thing to note though is the film’s aspect ratio. Unlike a standard widescreen format, Zack Snyder went with a squarer 1.33:1 aspect ratio for the Snyder Cut, inspired by the original IMAX ratio of 1.43:1. While this is a bit of an odd decision considering that most people will watch it on 16:9 laptops or tablets, I think that the aspect ratio worked.
Thanks to the squarer format, there’s this sense of grandeur to the Justice League when they’re seen in their full getup. This is specifically one of the reasons why the Snyder Cut has an unusual aspect ratio, as Zack Snyder noted that heroes tend to be “less horizontal”, meaning a more vertical ratio would make for better visuals.
It’s Not Perfect Though
While the Snyder Cut is clearly the superior version, it’s likely won’t be a home run for everyone. As the film’s core story is pretty much the same as the first Justice League, viewers who aren’t fans of the previous Snyder DC films (Man of Steel and Batman V Superman) may still not be convinced with the direction of this cut.
There’s still also this sense that Justice League could’ve worked way better with at least another movie or some solo flicks before the big team-up. Sure, the Justice League members and villains have been given way more time to shine in the Snyder Cut, but I personally felt that more movies to develop them would make the stakes feel much higher.
Finally, there’s the fact that the Snyder Cut is not canon in Warner’s main DC Extended Universe. This is not really a flaw to be honest, but it’s just sad to see that the film builds up the DCEU so much, all for it to not be canon. Though of course, there is a bit of hope that the DC “Snydeverse” may be explored more in the future if the Snyder Cut proves to be a success.
Overall, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a film that is leagues above the original theatrical cut thanks to a more cohesive story and host of technical enhancement. If you love the Snyder-directed DC films, or if you’re a big fan of DC, this new cut of Justice League is a definite must-watch.
If you’re not too big on the DCEU though, the Snyder Cut is still worth seeing for its entertainment value alone. Though if you’re daunted by the film’s four hour running time, don’t worry as it is divided into six parts plus an epilogue, meaning you can watch it more like a miniseries, with breaks in between.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League will release exclusively on HBO GO in the Philippines on March 18, 2021.