Review: The Snyder Cut of Justice League Is Superior, but Not Perfect
Rating: 3/5 but also YMMV.
I enjoyed the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Despite the slow-mo, the soundtrack (too much singing!), and just some of my general comic book nerd issues with some of the choices, it was leaps and bounds a better version of the story than the theatrical release. So let’s talk about the good and the bad of this film on its own merit.
At least, let’s attempt.
When I first saw Justice League as done by Joss Whedon, at the time, I thought it was enjoyable, but very much not living up to what it could have been narratively. Rewatching it last year, I realized just how messy and weird the film was during my DCEU rewatch, when I did a whole ranking of their movies. It may not be my favorite incarnation of this world, but the film was clearly leading up to something Whedon was not committed to doing, especially when it came to Ray Fisher’s Cyborg.
The plot is pretty much the same in both versions. After the death of Superman he, being the screamer that he is, his death wail awakens the mother box and summons the exiled Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) to reclaim the boxes for Darkseid, killing many of the Amazons. Bruce Wayne, feeling guilty over the death of Superman and mulling over the threat of invasion, is trying to put together a team of heroes with Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Barry Allen/The Flash, and Vic Stone/Cyborg. Diana and Bruce get the team together to do battle with the forces of Apokolips.
Cyborg is excellent, and we get a lot of Vic Stone’s backstory, which is so important. I think it has been forgotten that this role was Ray Fisher’s first movie role. He kills it, and it was great getting a look at who he was as a person. Snyder being able to take the time in this film to give the characters all these stories does help it feel more like an ensemble. Cyborg is the heart of his film, and it certainly makes me believe Ray Fisher even more.
Diana and the Amazons were excellent, with them all being treated with more dignity, even in death. It was fantastic to see them back and doing cool stuff again, since Wonder Woman 1984 did not give us much in the way of Amazons. Batfleck has gotten memed a lot, but he is probably one of the best live action versions of this older Batman character. He feels like both Batman and Bruce Wayne. In a stronger story and script, he would have been able to reach iconic levels.
One person who I do personally think suffers in this adaptation is Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen. He is … very annoying. The scene with him saving Iris is not as impactful as Snyder thought it was and goes on for toooooo long. Plus, his weird moving of her hair and things come across as creepy, not romantic. I am glad, though, that Zheng Kai as Ryan Choi, Kiersey Clemons as Iris West, and other BIPOC actors made it back into this cut.
The CGI, while having a lot of budget thrown into it, feels very meh as final designs. As I’ve said on Twitter, Steppenwolf looks like the personification of nü-metal, and I wasn’t impressed by Darkseid’s design in the film either, especially as someone who loves that character. The soundtrack and musical choices of this film were excessive—painfully so. Mixed with Snyder’s traditional love of slow-mo, it just made me wonder if that accounted for his bloated four-hour run-time.
My only true hot take is that this film did a good job of reminding us why these actors (sans Miller) were cast. Some may cringe at Diana’s Wonder Woman not being afraid to kill here, but I found that scene, paired with her afterwards caring for the young girls, to be the most I’ve truly cared about the character since she was introduced in Batman v Superman.
Ultimately, while I truly believe Zack Snyder doesn’t fundamentally understand these specific heroes, I think this was his best attempt at doing them. I have no desire to see more DCEU content from Snyder’s perspective, but considering how Warner Bros. treated him after his daughter’s passing puts me more in his camp. I think it is fair to say that this was both an improvement of the theatrical cut and a bloated film that needed a firmer editing hand with less indulgent shots. Also, the finale flash-forward was pretty meh.
Everyone will have their own opinions about this movie, so this is just one lone-nerd girl’s opinion on the subject.
Steppenwolf: Desaad, I found a motherbox
— Amateur Watcher (@OhioDavee) March 19, 2021
(image: HBO Max)
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