Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) Review

RATING: 2.5/5

A team of heroes have to join together to stop the takeover of Earth from a ruthless alien being.

Better than the theatrical version? yes. Everything else? Eh.

Characterizations have improved for certain characters. The best and most notable examples include Cyborg and the Flash. Their backstories were sorely needed in the previous version. Zack did the job right at adding layers to the hollow characters, especially for Cyborg and the strained relationship with his father. I think it was right to see the character’s journey after the fiasco going on behind the scenes regarding the actor Ray Fisher.

When it came to the other characters, they stayed more or less the same. Some characters got a bit more development than their previous iterations. Though honestly if some of them weren’t inserted, nothing much would have changed. The rest of the League get additional scenes and there was moments of good. Sometimes they added necessary context to further expand the world like Wonder Woman telling the historic Darkseid invasion and the Mother Boxes to Batman. Sometimes it was kind of cringe like the awkward moment of Batman and Wonder Woman’s hands accidently touching.

Lois Lane had nice scenes of lamenting her loss of Superman. Steppenwolf, still not that interesting of a villain, but this version seemed more evil and ruthless than the prior. Martian Manhunter was neat to see, but was ultimately pointless. I’m not sure why he had to change into Martha Kent to talk to Lois. Zack could have easily had the real Martha talk to Lois. Superman wearing the black suit was needless. There was no point other than to show it off as cool looking for the audience. Seeing Darkseid’s film debut was pretty cool and I wish Apokolips was seen more. The nightmare scenes in the end were fair. My main problem with it was the production which looked cheap compared to the rest of the movie. Which I’ll talk about more later. The saving grace was the Joker. Jared Leto redeemed itself for sure. His mannerisms and speech felt more joker-esque and no “Suicide Squad” impressions were utilized which was good.

Scenes in the Joss Whedon cut that made one ask questions, were for the most part resolved. The ones I can think of were Batman telling the Flash to save one when confronting Steppenwolf. Instead of one, everyone was saved. When a revived Superman starts walking toward Batman, it isn’t just Wonder Woman, but the rest of the league go in and try to halt him.

Speaking of action, I will say it was improved. The Wonder Woman fight toward the beginning was an exhilarating rush, as to was Batman luring the parademons in his batmobile. The action in the climax was backed up by some very nice and stunning visuals.

As for the effects, they were mixed. There were times one can tell a green screen was used and the CG appeared a little fake. The redesign of Steppenwolf was an interesting take. Definitely more monstrous than the prior. His armor was, again, interesting. I like how unique it was, but at the same time, it seemed like there was too much going on whenever it was vibrating or moving on its own. Going back to the nightmare scenes in the last act, these were easily the worst in terms of the production and effects. Though I guess I can’t be too mean seeing as Zack shot the scenes in his backyard.

Again, Cyborg and the Flash had the best in terms of visuals. Diving into the cyberworld within Cyborg’s mind was cool seeing. The speed scenes with the Flash were nicely done, to which it reached a peak of “2001: A Space Odyssey” vibes in the climax. The Flash running faster than the speed of light was the best visual spectacle in the movie. I loved it whenever the ground or reality itself was reshaping in front of the Flash after each step.

Certain music was really good. The Wonder Woman theme was still a head-banger. I liked the rock theme that played during the first League/Steppenwolf fight. The Flash’s faster than light scene had a big and cinematic-type choir that was great.

Now while there were improvements over the Whedon version, I will have to admit there were things in there I wish were present in here. When it came to the tone, it was suitable. Not as dark and brooding as “Batman V Superman,” but it would have been worth it to include a joke or two from Whedon’s film. For me I actually didn’t mind the exchange of dialogue when Superman was choking Batman. Excluding the cheesy “do you bleed?” line, everything before that I kind of liked. It would have been a neat little tie-in to the conversation between Batman and Joker. But yes, looking back at Whedon, the cheese factor was sometimes a bit much in certain areas. Not overboard, but it did make that film feel tonally off. Zack’s take was somewhat of a medium, though toward the dark latter. There also seemed to be a little more interplay between the members before reviving Superman in there than here.

With everything Zack did to create his version of the JL, ultimately the results were roughly the same as Whedon. In that the story and plot were pretty basic and was predictable in a lot of ways. The dialogue was fixed some, but a lot of it was not made too interesting. Like I said prior, some of the characters do receive more scenes and characterizations, though it came off as basic. The members initially don’t want to join, but over the course of the film they all will eventually ban together to stop the 2D villain. If Zack’s version was released back in 2017, it would have been the same. DC trying too hard to compete with Marvel and squeezing every single hero into one movie where they didn’t have any previous development beforehand.

I will say this, I do have a little respect for Zack. He is a director that I don’t personally like. But after watching this, I do commend him some for working hard to get his version of the JL released for the world. It was a project not only to please fans of his, but also as a tribute to his late daughter. The cover of “Hallelujah” playing in the end credits was heartwarming. So yeah, if you’re a fan of Zack, you’ll definitely love it. For me, the verdict is better, but about the same as Whedon’s; with some new stuff that were cool and well-deserving and new stuff that either wasn’t necessary, pointless, or needed to be better ironed out.

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