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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Wonder Woman 84 (2020)

RATING: 1.5/5

Wonder Woman’s journey to discover herself is pressured when a great force comes to show her deepest desires.

Wasn’t much a fan of the first one, but I thought it was decent nonetheless. However its leagues (no pun intended) better than its sequel.

The initial twenty minutes I have to say were a good introduction. There were a good introduction on how things were going downhill when it came to the pacing, narrative, acting, etc. The two intros, including the Themyscira Olympics and the heroic saves by Wonder Woman, dragged for quite a while. I mean I was stunned for how disinterested I was. The Olympics scene felt like it should have been placed in the first movie. Sure it included the one theme/message that will come back toward the end, but the whole scene went on too long. In addition it included a certain Golden Armor that doesn’t pay off greatly in the climax. It looked cool, but honestly it could have been any special Amazonian weapon/artifact and it would have made the same, unimpactful difference. The heroic saves weren’t any better. As it included some pretty bad acting especially from the mall robbers. The movie should have skipped or cut out sections from these scenes.

Continuing on with the acting, it was pretty mixed. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was still good. As too was Chris Pine coming back as Steve Trevor. So the heroes were good, but the villains were a different story. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord was fine and he certainly did bring some entertainment factor. Because of that there should have been just one antagonist, as opposed to two. Kristen Wiig as Cheetah did alright. Her initial goofy and nerdy personality got old and annoying real fast. Her transformation into a more dominant and fearsome persona wasn’t anything special. Or original in that it took cues from “Batman Returns.” In the long run I didn’t really care for the character. To which I think the movie itself had the same feeling as the character just outright vanished with no mention after the climax. Her goofiness in the scenes discovering her newfound powers didn’t offer a chuckle in the slightest. In fact, a lot of the humor didn’t land. Whether it was from scenes with Cheetah or Steve Trevor being fascinated with the 80s.

In terms of the scope, the sequel looked and felt bigger than its predecessor. I think it boiled down to some really good cinematography and nice, colorful visuals. When the world was falling apart with the abundance of wishes, the movie showcased impressive panning and wide shots, to really capture the magnitude and severity of the situation. Riots broke out, people panicking, looting, nukes flying, it all around madness. The movie brought the feelings of 2020 as a whole in those scenes. Though the bigness didn’t leave much of an impact sadly. A majority of the film felt flat due to the slow pacing, long runtime, and uninteresting dialogue. Situations more or less happened and that was it.

But beyond the chaos, there were other scenes of interest that looked cool. Lord in the climax being the center while a windy vortex encircled him and a scene where Wonder Woman began to fly for the first time. On a visual standpoint, the latter was the one that stood out to me the most. I believe it was the case because it reminded me of “Superman (78).” Colors were sparkling and popping. There was almost a majestic or mythical feel, which made sense considering the background behind the character of Wonder Woman. Unfortunately if one were to look at the context when it related to the film as a whole, it made no sense whatsover. The rest of the visuals sometimes looked awkward. The best example was Wonder Woman running straight at the camera in the chase scene in Egypt. There was a film grain used in some scenes. But for the most part it was pointless as a lot of scenes didn’t have that filter.

Narratively speaking, there were a number of unexplained things or plot holes littered throughout. As I mentioned earlier, after the climax Cheetah, even after reverting back to her human form, was never mentioned again. The unexplained connection between the bank robbers and Lord? Lord finding out about the crystal entirely? Wonder Woman being able to fly so suddenly and not using it for the rest of the DCEU? Cheetah, figuring out Diana’s identity so suddenly? Granted it could be refreshing but it didn’t feel natural in the slightest. Wonder Woman getting weaker? From what I could gather, the crystal was stripping her powers and transferring it to Cheetah. To which I say why does this need to happen? Can’t the crystal duplicate the powers without making Wonder Woman vulnerable. In the climax, how is Lord granting all the wishes with no physical contact as seen prior throughout the film? How is Wonder Woman able to talk to the world with Lord and her lasso as a transmitter? How is Lord not bleeding excessively from the hundreds of wishes? What happened to the crystal after all the wishes were renounced? Why does Steve Trevor need to take over another man’s body to come back?

There were so many plot holes and unexplained things that disrupted the plot. It was also why those things kind of, in some way, ruin some continuity with the rest of the DCEU.

The mid-credits scene featured a cameo from Lynda Carter, which was extremely bitter sweet. Emphasis on bitter because her cameo in this movie truly hurt.

A disappointing sequel and one of the worst, if not the worst of the DCEU films. A few performances were good, some visuals were beautiful, and the cinematography at times was nicely done. A longer runtime doesn’t always make a film feel or look grandiose. It can also lead to a project that can feel dull, flat, and uninteresting by the end. A major misstep and I’m curious of what Wonder Woman 3 will be like. Hopefully, a positive overhaul is enforced.

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