Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

After relentless caterwauling from fans for four years, director Zack Snyder is allowed to return to the DCEU once again to offer his original vision (or a very close facsimile) of what he had planned for the “Justice League” and the DCEU. While I don’t miss Snyder and his involvement with the DC movies (the man loves his slow motion), his “Justice League” is, shocking enough, an infinitely superior adaptation than the 2017 Joss Whedon lemon. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but if pushed in to a corner, I’d happily rewatch the “Snyder Cut” again, with warts and all.

When a powerful super villain named Steppenwolf rises and begins wreaking havoc with his army of paraedemons, he travels the globe seeking three mythical devices known as Motherboxes. Assembling the boxes will allow his master, the powerful Darkseid, to enter Earth through a portal and begin a massive invasion. Anxious to stop the inevitable war and redeem himself for his conflict with Superman, Batman assembles a team of super powered heroes to help him stop Steppenwolf once and for all. But as Steppenwolf’s eagerness grows, the team (with the help of Alfred) realizes they may need to resurrect the Man of Steel.

 What was lacking in the original “Justice League” is still sorely lacking in Snyder’s vision. We still know so little about Snyder’s version of these classic characters, and even with four hours, Snyder paints himself in to a corner. He takes the time to warm us up to these individual superheroes, but at the cost of the film’s momentum and pacing. Sometimes the movie jets like a rocket, and packs a punch; other times you’re wishing they’d just get to the point. Most of Snyder’s Cut involves a lot of set up for spin offs (Enjoy the DCEU’s iterations of The Flash and Cyborg while you can! One is in development hell, and the other’s long been cancelled) and inclusions of scenes he couldn’t do with his future movies, so he crams so much in to a four hour run time, sans an intermission.

There’s just so much here that works but a lot of fodder that just doesn’t. Whether it’s Barry’s back story, the five epilogues, or the endless back and forth between Mera and Arthur, it’s blatant padding. That said, Snyder’s version of “Justice League” is still a strong superhero epic that shows much more respect for these characters this time around, and he’s much more restrained, focusing less on chaos and more on the mythology. What director Zack Snyder has done is created his own “Justice League” film but by way of J.R.R Tolkien. It garners an epic scale (read: long), and features a slew of mismatched heroes all with their own abilities, tasked with confronting an ancient menace who is seeking a powerful weapon.

That’s not particularly a bad thing, but once you see it, it’s pretty hard to unsee: “The Fellowship of the League.” Once again Snyder crams in a whole trilogy in to four hours and he mostly focuses on what the Whedon Cut was missing. Superman is much more fleshed out, Cyborg is much more emphasized, and bad guy Steppenwolf is vastly improved. Rather than being an over powered thug hitting people a lot, here he’s a complex and imposing monster who will do whatever it takes to show allegiance to the film’s primary antagonist. He’s a solid villain with a clear motivation and I had a great time watching him give our heroes a hard time.

There were times I was entrenched in Steppenwolf’s battles with the heroes, and he proves to be an imposing menace with a clear motivation this time around. The mother boxes are also less maguffin’s this time around and clear cut crucial plot elements that stands between us and the end of the world. Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” is just so much more polished, entertaining, and engrossing, even when it stumbles here and there. As a redo, it’s a huge step up, as a movie on its own merits, it’s a strong cinematic adaptation that I could see re-watching over and over.

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