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Zack Snyder’s Justice League review: Near perfect redemption saga

Rating: 4/5

After four years of fans relentlessly campaigning and waiting for his cut, Zack Snyder’s true vision of Justice League is finally here in all its glory, and it delivers a massively entertaining punch.

The director who had to step down from production owing to his daughter’s death in 2017 saw his narrative ripped, reshot, and released into a convoluted mess that was the theatrical version of the film. However, that mistake has been spectacularly undone by the newer version.

Story

The four-hour superhero event starts off with Superman’s death from ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and the narrative sets a precedent that his demise woke the mysterious mother boxes from their slumber. Enter Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne who shows up at a Scandinavian village, on a recruitment spree.

After unsuccessfully convincing Arthur Curry aka Aquaman to fight alongside him against an extraterrestrial threat, Bruce returns to Gotham City to try his luck elsewhere. Meanwhile the island of Themyscira is attacked by an alien, Steppenwolf, and his Parademons as they try to retrieve the first mother box being guarded by the Amazons.

After a gruesome battle, the female warriors, having lost, fire an ancient arrow to warn Wonder Woman of the imminent invasion who further meets up with Bruce to confirm his suspicion. A flashback explains that the mastermind behind this catastrophe is a universal conqueror, Darkseid, who was once defeated on earth by combined forces of the Gods of Olympus, Amazons, Atlanteans, Green Lanterns, and humans.

The duo then successfully convince Barry Allen (The Flash) and Victor Stone (Cyborg) to join the fight and after an initial tussle with Steppenwolf, Aquaman shows up as well. Acknowledging a massive gap in their power to that of the enemy, the newly formed league agrees to revive superman using a mother box in Cyborg’s possession.

With a ticking clock and potential global destruction on the horizon, the team sets out to face the dreaded enemy, in hopes of having the powerful Kryptonian as their ally once again.

Performances

Ben Affleck shines as Batman in this gritty and arguably the most comic accurate portrayal of the character. His Bruce Wayne is also likable but leaves a little to be desired in some instances. Fortunately, he doesn’t crack silly one liners like in the theatrical version, and his intensity and leadership are infectious.

Ray Fisher as Cyborg is probably the most different from his 2017 film counterpart, owing to an extended backstory. His journey is heartfelt and Fisher does an exceptional job projecting those emotions, considering his character is 90 per-cent CGI.

Ezra Miller’s goofy gig as The Flash too gets extra screen time. Fortunately, it’s not all humorous one liners and he has some intense stuff to delve into, which he does spectacularly.

Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa are charismatic as ever. Their backstories aren’t fleshed out as much owing to them having solo films, but their presence isn’t just an add-on and lifts up every frame they’re in.

Now, the biggest redemption arc apart from Cyborg’s belongs to Henry Cavill as Superman. The whole CGI moustache removal fiasco that made him look weird in 2017’s Justice League is gone. The last son of Krypton is a treat to the eyes with an all new shiny black suit. Cavill’s performance leaves you smiling from ear to ear and he brilliantly swings between the kindness and dominance his character is known for.

The main villain — Steppenwolf, played by Ciarán Hinds — is extremely menacing. The runtime also does justice to him as his motivations are now clearer making him a much deeper character. The updated design and better dialogue make him look seriously intimidating as well.

The entire supporting cast including Jeremy Irons, J. K. Simmons, Jared Leto, Jessie Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Joe Manganiello, Willem Dafoe, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Joe Morton, Ray Porter, Harry Lennix, and more bring their A game as well.

Positives

In comparison to Joss Whedon’s Justice League, this film is an entirely new entity. Despite being four hours long, the cohesiveness of the narrative makes it a breeze of a watch. The 242 minute runtime allows Snyder to flesh out character arcs and plot points that make so much sense, with spectacular efficiency.

New characters are another asset of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. With Ray Porter’s Darkseid making an appearance as well a cameo by Martian Manhunter, these seemingly fan service moments make sense if one considers Snyder’s original plan for a Justice League trilogy.

When it comes to scene composition and cinematography, this film is a visual treat. Even the scenes that were present in the theatrical version are allowed to breathe and use different angles, dialogue, and pacing. Furthermore, the 4:3 aspect ratio really aids in immersion as well as presents more picture than was initially shown in the original.

The refreshed musical score by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL is an adrenalin pumping masterpiece. Especially the new soundtrack for the league uniting is worth basking in for long hours.

Surprisingly, the visual effects are refined and on-point as well. Considering the entire cut was put together in less than a year, the CGI is great for the most part and even breath-taking at some points.

Negatives

Zack Snyder is known for his vintage slow motion shots to really bring out the intensity of the scene, however, he overdoes it this time around. One could argue that his Justice League could have been about 20 minutes shorter if every action scene wasn’t riddled with slow motion set pieces. They look good but don’t feel necessary.

Furthermore, the colour grading is another caveat. It is probably a matter of preference but the film could have done with a little more colour and brightness. Some scenes are very dimly lit and extremely desaturated that take a little away from their magnificence.

Worth it?

If the entire review wasn’t confirmation enough, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a marvellous superhero opera that is a must watch. It may feel difficult to sit through for people who aren’t used to long run-times, however, the film is divided into chapters and its OTT release means it can be viewed easily in multiple sittings.

For fans of the franchise who desperately wanted to witness Snyder’s true vision, this film is what they always deserved and have finally received. It is fair enough to say that the director has successfully erased the 2017 version from everyone’s memories.


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