Weekly Movie Review: Justice League

Zack Snyder’s Justice League: A drab, taxing 4-hour superhero experience

By Brad Lane

  Warner Brothers’ superhero cinematic franchise with Detective Comics characters was created to rival Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2013 with Zack Snyder’s Superman origin story Man of Steel. The success of that film lead to a financially successful sequel, and ultimately to a Justice League team-up film slated for 2017. However, Snyder had to step down from his role as director of the film due to a family tragedy, and Warner Brothers’ decided to give creative control to Avengers director Joss Whedon. This change caused costly reshoots and a finished product that felt fractured between two distinct visions for the film’s tone and story. Now, after years of fan outcry for an alternate version, HBO Max has finally released Zack Snyder’s Justice League. However, this cut of the film clocks in at an expansive four hours, a change that creates just as many problems as it solves.

The plot of the two movies is essentially the same, except the new version expands on the story with a lengthened runtime. Batman is still attempting to build a team of superheroes to protect Earth against an alien threat, but the added runtime allows each of the members of the Justice League extra time to develop and coalesce as a unit. Unfortunately, this added development is a double-edged sword as the film’s pacing becomes destroyed by so much boring exposition. It simultaneously creates more and less engaging characters because, while you can understand their internal motivations more, the communication of those motivations is so uncreative that it detracts from the overall experience.

Despite the uneven pacing, the film isn’t without highlights. The action film is in Snyder’s trademark super-slow-motion style, and it looks better than ever. Additionally, during the action scenes, the dull screenplay by Chris Terrio has less of an opportunity to trip over itself and spoil a future scene as it does in the scenes that feature mostly dialogue. 

I mentioned before that the original film felt disjointed as it was started and finished with two entirely different tones in mind for the final product. Whedon’s Justice League aspired to a more jovial, playful tone in almost exact opposition to Snyder’s more bleak, super-serious tone. This version is certainly more tonally consistent, but it is an oppressive, dull mood that permeates every creative decision of the film and not in a flattering way. The color palette is washed out, and the script is sucked dry of joy.

As a film lover, I am always excited for a director to see their creative vision realized on the silver screen. However, in this case, Zack Snyder’s vision for Justice League is a fundamentally flawed one that subtracts just as much as it adds. – 2.5/5 stars