Zack Snyder’s Justice League takes the 2017 Justice League movie, which I really enjoyed, and turns it into something fairly unrecognisable by comparison.
The theatrical release ended up coming under the directorship of Joss Wheedon after Snyder had to leave the project following a family tragedy, when his daughter took her own life. Wheedon, with a stack of reshoots including CGI-ing out Henry Cavill’s huge moustache – which he had to maintain for Mission Impossible: Fallout – brought a two-hour film to the big screen which I really enjoyed, but which was derided by fanbois.
After many calls, including from the cast, to – and using a hashtag – #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, we have have four hours and two minutes for the most complete version from Mr Snyder, and in the intended 4:3 aspect ratio. Yes, like those old TVs we used to have. It’s very close to the 1.43:1 ratio you’d get from a 70mm IMAX movie, such as many scenes in Snyder’s own Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. And to anyone moaning about the “black bars at the side”, they’re no different in the overall screen space taken up than the top and bottom black bars for a typical 2.39:1 widescreen action movie like the majority of Wonder Woman 1984, for example.
Before watching this, one thought about the theatrical version was that I was glad it didn’t take forever to introduce the characters. Okay, Aquaman has his own origin film (which I skipped), but Cyborg didn’t for example, unless that comes later in the DC Extended Universe.
As it opens, Superman’s death is relived, his screaming roaming scross the city, and a long-haired Lex Luthor is watching Steppenwolf be born… I think. Quite frankly, when I saw the theatrical verison, I didn’t know what was going on then. But I do know that I enjoyed it.
After the opening credits are done (around 9 minutes’ worth), we’re greeted with the caption “Part 1”, and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) goes to call on Aquaman (Jason Momoa) for his help with Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who wants to bring together three ‘Mother’ boxes which, to my eyes, just look like variants of the Hellraiser-style box. However, while Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) temporarily gets one of the boxes away from the big baddie – in a scene which will result in the deaths of a lot of the hot Amazon women – how come so many of them suffer, while she and Diana Prince are practically invincible?
Anyhoo, if the three boxes get together, they’ll form a Unity which will trash the Earth, and mould it as Steppenwolf would prefer.
Some random observations, although I might add more if they come to me, since I’ve only just watched this, and as I post this review, it’s getting on for 4am and I really need to go to bed:
- Jason Momoa gets his shirt off at every opportunity, even though you’d never see a woman doing the same in a superhero movie, even in this R-rated opus.
- At the time of posting this review, the film hasn’t yet been rated by the BBFC, but I’m expecting a 15-certificate, especially for the violence in some of the battle scenes. In fact, even a visual trace of blood was wiped from the 12-cert Aquaman movie, and there’s a few spurts of underwater blood in this, so the big 1-5, here we come…
- When this film was released theatrically, everyone wondered where the budget of $300m was being spent. Now, we can actually see it. In fact, given that this is four hours long, it’s basically two films’ worth, so that’s around $150m per film, which isn’t bad for a modern blockbuster.
- Early on, when we see the Superman statue is destroyed, although with the obelisks, it did look rather like the ‘Berlin wall’-style monstrosity in Manchester city centre, which they council keep saying they’re going to bring down, but never do.
- I spotted a CGI continuity error around 2hrs 17mins, in which Martha goes round to Lois Lane’s flat, has a cup of coffee, Lois brings out two mugs with the steam rising off each, but inbetween shots of seeing such mugs, there’s a sole shot of Martha nursing her mug, but with zero steam coming out of it. The same happens with any other close-up shots in that scene.
- With Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL) doing the score instead of Danny Elfman, at times, this one has a more orchestral feel to it.
- Oh, and Queen Bitch Amber Heard is in it, most recently known for destroying the career of Johnny Depp.
The following is the list of chapters, which I’ll put behind a spoiler header as I give rough descriptions as to what happens in each part. That said, if you watched the 2017 version, you’ll know what to expect:
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is very long, but there’s a lot to get stuck into. I hope I can get to see this full version in 70mm IMAX one day, when cinemas re-open, but please have an intermission in the middle! As you can see, just before part 4 would be fine.
Like the 2017 theatrical version, I don’t fully understand what’s going on, but it’s hugely entertaining and looks absolutely stunning. Plus, this new version has also seen calls for a ‘Justice League 2‘, which I presume must again star Ben Affleck, even though he’s technically passed the mantle on to Robert Pattinson for 2022’s The Batman.
Originally, there was a post-credits scene showing Lex Luthor having escaped from Arkham prison, and now offering an alliance with Deathstroke. Here, it’s part of the epilogue.
There’s an additional scene where…
As the film ends, a dedication, “For Autumn”, appears, the name of Zack Snyder’s daughter. The end credits them play out to a piano rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, sung by Alison Crowe.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is released today on Sky Cinema, Now TV, and in the US on HBO Max, and is available to pre-order on Blu-ray, Blu-ray Steelbook, 4K Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of the release on May 24th.
It will also be available on Amazon Video, but there isn’t a link for that yet.
The extras will be:
- Road To Justice League (Featurette): Director Zack Snyder reflects on his trilogy of films in the DC Universe
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice League Grey (Feature): For years the #Snydercut existed in black and white and shown to only a select few. Now Warner Bros. are bringing “Justice Is Grey” to fans in the UK for the first time as additional content available to customers who purchase a digital download of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” from selected digital retailers only
- Building A Scene: A Thrilling look at how the film’s most incredible scenes were brought to life
Running time: 242 minutes
Release date: March 18th 2021
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Zack Snyder
Producers: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder
Screenplay: Chris Terrio
Story: Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, Will Beall
Music: Junkie XL
Batman / Bruce Wayne: Ben Affleck
Superman / Clark Kent: Henry Cavill
Lois Lane: Amy Adams
Wonder Woman / Diana Prince: Gal Gadot
Cyborg / Victor Stone: Ray Fisher
Aquaman / Arthur Curry: Jason Momoa
The Flash / Barry Allen: Ezra Miller
Nuidis Vulko: Willem Dafoe
Lex Luthor: Jesse Eisenberg
Alfred Pennyworth: Jeremy Irons
Martha Kent: Diane Lane
Queen Hippolyta: Connie Nielsen
Commissioner Gordon: JK Simmons
Steppenwolf: Ciarán Hinds (voice)
Ryan Choi: Ryan Zheng
Mera: Amber Heard
Silas Stone: Joe Morton
Menalippe: Lisa Loven Kongsli
Ares: David Thewlis
Philippus: Ann Ogbomo
Jerry: Mark McClure
The Joker: Jared Leto
Antiope: Robin Wright
Mayor: Ingvar Sigurdsson
Zeus: Sergi Constance
Elinor Stone: Karen Bryson
Iris West: Kiersey Clemons
Menalippe: Lisa Loven Kongsli
Swanwick / Martian Manhunter: Harry Lennix
Deathstroke: Joe Manganiello
Darkseid: Ray Porter (voice)
Euboea: Samantha Win
Containment Centre Scientist: Mark Arnold
Central City Prison Guard: Gianpiero Cognoli
DeSaad: Peter Guinness (voice)
Cop: Swaylee Loughnane
Ancient Atlantean Kig: Julian Lewis Jones
Henry Allen: Billy Crudup (uncredited)
GCU Pitchside Cameraman: Andrew G Ogleby (uncredited)
Football Fan: Sam Weeks (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.