Movie Review: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Is The DC Epic Fans Have Waited For! On Blu-ray

Everybody’s story informs their experience . When I wrote my review for ‘Batman V. Superman’, I was sitting next to my father. A few days later, he passed away in the very room I wrote that review. For those who don’t remember, Superman also dies at the end of that film. Which created a sort of symbolism between Superman (my father’s favorite superhero) and my father. Some of the last actual words my father heard me utter were about that film. So, when it became clear that the angle ‘Justice League’ was going to take would be the resurrection of Superman, I have to admit that the symbolism was not lost on me. That film went on to deliver the passing excitement of seeing my favorite superheroes together, but completely missed the bar on delivering a compelling or emotionally resonant story. It’s a fun enough little hodgepodge of a movie for DC loving children and that seemed to be all it was fated to be.

However, life has a funny way of sneaking up and changing history. It should be no secret to anyone at this point, but if you are uninitiated I will provide you the abridged version. When ‘Justice League’ was being a made, director Zack Snyder also lost family. His daughter died to a tragic suicide. However, that was only the excuse that was used to push Snyder out of the project. The truth is that Warner Bros. was scared about the overlong and dark movie that Snyder had made. The reception for ‘Batman V. Superman’ was poor and they didn’t want ‘Justice League’ to be a commercial failure. So, they brought in director Joss Whedon to hack the thing up into the disjointed kids movie it is. The movie was still a commercial failure and a movement of fans began begging the studio for the Snyder Cut.

Now, the idea that this was ever going to happen seemed like a pie in the sky. They already spent $300 million on this movie. They were never going to spend more to give audiences the film the studio didn’t like, right? Well, the movement only grew over the years and spin-offs from ‘Justice League’ have been very successful. But the real catalyst for this remarkable story was the advent of HBO MAX and its need for content that sets it apart. Well, 4 years and another $70 million dollars have passed, but we finally have all 4 hours of ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’. And what a 4 hours it is! Comparisons to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ are the most accurate I have heard. This thing is big, brooding, and about as epic as filmmaking gets. It’s filled to the brim with backstory and characters that have plenty of time to breathe. But most importantly, it lets all those scenes you already saw in the original become what they were truly meant to be.

If there is anything that audiences can take away from watching both versions of this story, it’s how drastic a scene can change when it’s given character build up and the right music. I don’t want to ruin anything, but there are two sequences in this film that immediately come to mind and the difference was palpable. One of them brought me to tears and the other one literally had me cheering. The original version brought out maybe a small smile between the two scenes. Try to imagine the entire ‘Harry Potter’ saga wrapped up in one long movie and how unsatisfying it would have been when all those exciting or emotional moments happened. That’s the difference between this ‘Lord of the Rings’ style version of ‘Justice League’ that Zack Snyder has given us and the ‘X-Men’ lite version we got from Joss Whedon.

Still, I’ve only really referred to the additional footage here in reference to what we already got before. Which is not at all fair. There are more scenes here that you haven’t seen than scenes you have. In fact, 75% of this film is brand new footage and many scenes you already saw are completely different. Now, I won’t be the one that says every single scene that Whedon did was inferior (I loved Whedon’s scene with Aquaman and the lasso of truth), but so much of them are improved that it renders the other sequences as nothing more than deleted scenes for me. Plus, some of these new scenes are so fantastic that it’s hard to imagine anybody could cut them out. The sequence where Barry saves Iris from a car crash is a particular highlight in a film filled to the brim with memorable scenes. Which includes the infamous new Joker scene that truly caps off a glorious epilogue.

Honestly, this movie feels like a better and more complete version of this story from the very opening moments. And by the time you reach a closing tease of a film we will likely never see, you will be begging for more. Tom Holkenborg’s score and the updates of Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable Superman theme become especially resonant in the latter half of this tale. In fact, my hat is truly off to Holkenborg and all his themes in this movie. He use all of them so well and delivers a ‘Justice League’ theme for the ages. The visual effects are top notch here as well. Which is all the more important for CGI characters like Steppenwolf. Wow! He is such an improvement that it almost seems insulting that the previous incarnation actually existed. And Darkseid is as menacing a presence as we have all expected him to be. Man, I really hope we get to see the future earth story that Snyder has been alluding to in the future and Darkseid’s full evil potential.

If not, we still have to be happy that we got to see this team come together in such a phenomenal way to begin with. And what a team it is! Every actor is fantastic! And Ray Fisher finally gets his time to shine here as Cyborg. It’s so rough to think about what he went to in order to see this performance come to fruition, but I hope he is proud now. I know I would be. And Zack Snyder should be as well. After everybody dismissed him and he lost his daughter, he has given us this epic of superhero cinema. Thanks Zack. I will never forget it!

Nathan Ligon
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