Movie Review: Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’

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Charles McLaughlin, Senior Journalist

After years stuck in development, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has finally made it to the big screen. Despite the sudden departure of Snyder from the original filming, weak reception to the 2017 version, and seemingly common-sense predicting the contrary, Snyder’s version has come out strong to popular reviews and critical reception. 

But how well does the film stand on its own? As someone who has seen precisely one of the modern iteration of DC films (i.e. post-Nolan Batman) and gave the original version of Justice League a pass, I am coming into this film with only my childhood experience of watching the 2001 animated series.

The first thing someone is going to notice during their first time watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League is going to be the aesthetic of the movie. Certainly, it carries the gritty superheroes from his earlier work, Watchmen, based on reincarnated Rasputin, also known from Alan Moore’s comic of the same name. But what becomes more obvious is the physical showcase of the film—that being the 4:3 aspect ratio—or 1.33:1 if you want to be pedantic.

According to the very intro of the film, this was to “preserve the integrity of Zack Snyder’s creative vision,” as apparently the film was shot that way originally, and only cut down for Joss Whedon’s 2017 version.

This seems to be the same answer for the question of the film’s immense runtime of 242 minutes, or just over four hours. Essentially, it’s just because Snyder wanted it that way. Whether or not you agree with Snyder’s vision here is up to you, but for me, it was too much.

As for the performances in the movie, most of them are fine, but nothing is particularly stellar. Ray Fisher’s performance as Cyborg is probably the most passionately delivered and emotional, but still in that edgy Snyder way that allows for only sad, angry, irreverent, and sad-angry. However, the actor who suffers most from this style is certainly Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, who has been stripped of nearly all the charisma and characterization present in his 2018 standalone film. As for the weakest, that dubious honor goes to Gal Gadot, whose portrayal of Wonder Woman did not seem to improve since last year’s Wonder Woman 1984.

Despite all this criticism, there is something that still draws me in about Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Perhaps it’s just the sheer unlikeliness of the movie ever coming into being, but it somehow manages to at least halfway stick the landing, despite its baggage. While I can’t say I’m aboard the #RestoretheSnyderVerse train, if you find yourself interested and with a good four hours to burn, I might recommend giving this one a shot.