Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Directed by: Zack Snyder | 242 minutes | action, adventure | Actors: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, JK Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Ryan Zheng, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, Lisa Loven Kongsli, David Thewlis, Ann Ogbomo, Marc McClure, Doutzen Kroes, Eleanor Matsuura, Samantha Win, Brooke Ence, Anthony Wise

In ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’, superheroes Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman join forces when the Earth is under attack from the arrival of the alien Steppenwolf and his army. The team tries to stop the invasion, but lacks Superman’s help. The Man of Steel died when he stopped Doomsday. But then signs of Superman’s life appear. Is he alive then?

There’s something special about ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’. The fact that this film sees the light of day at all has everything to do with petitions from loyal fans, lobbies of involved actors and the power of the public. What was that again? In 2017, “Justice League” hit theaters. After a tragic family accident, director Zack Snyder withdrew and left the editing and directing to Joss Whedon. The latter was immensely popular thanks to his work for ‘The Avengers’. Whedon decided to use only part of Snyder’s film and opted for a new course. Under his direction, the original story, as Snyder envisioned, became a milder, less depressing ensemble film. Whedon’s magic was gone, however, and his Justice League was not the success he had hoped for. Years later, some cast members announced that the filmmaker acted like a tyrant on set and that Snyder’s version was worth watching. After years of campaigning by fans and cast members, Snyder was finally allowed to make the film the way he envisioned it. In his own words, he did that for nothing and he didn’t want any money for it. Four years after ‘Justice League’, ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ finally appears: a film that has been talked about for years and has almost been given a mythical status. Can this film live up to the sky-high expectations?

The answer is ‘yes’! This movie is everything Whedon’s version wasn’t. ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is a dark ensemble film that continues to fascinate despite the ridiculous running time of almost four(!) hours. It has nothing to do with the action, but with the acting. The cast is on a roll and all the characters are getting the deepening they deserve. That gives the film a completely different look. Cyborg (Ray Fischer) especially benefits from this. In Whedon’s version, he was a footnote, while the character in Snyder’s film is the beating heart. The motives of The Flash (Ezra Miller) also come to the fore. ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is a more balanced film, in which all the heroes are given a backstory and clearly have a common denominator: the lack of a father figure. Lack of affection, loss, direction and inspiration is the common thread in the lives of all heroes. This aspect shows up well in Snyder’s vision, while it was not an issue in Whedon’s film. Now Whedon also had a more compact playing time and Snyder gets double the playing time. What is striking is that Snyder really wants to tell something about the heroes and their past with this film, while Whedon just canned a simple popcorn movie.

What makes Zack Snyder’s Justice League so special is that it’s Snyder’s best, most personal film. He deviates from his tricks – the number of slow motion moments has been drastically reduced, he also uses more humor in this film and tries new things. The acting is passionate. Ben Affleck is great as a broken Batman, Wonder Woman is played both strong and vulnerable by Gal Gadot, Ray Fischer portrays Cyborg’s quest for self-acceptance and Jason Momoa gives depth to the closed Aquaman. Ezra Miller provides the comic relief, but is not overly present as he was in Whedon’s film. The special effects obviously come from the computer and probably won’t age nicely. It is also clear that some tricks are somewhat older, so that the difference in digital quality is obvious. Thanks to the acting, the film remains captivating and not because of the stunts. The soundtrack of ‘our’ Junkie XL also deserves an honorable mention.

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