Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Snyder Cut is considered the most ambitious fan campaign in movie history. Not since fans petitioned CBS to do a third season of Star Trek in the '60s has there been a fan campaign this big. Sure fans have gotten things changed after seeing a trailer (see Sonic The Hedgehog last year) but not anything to this level. Well, the fans got what they wanted and Zack Snyder got a chance to make amends for not being able to do this film himself from the start.
The bones were there for Snyder to come back and build his Frankenstein's monster. He just needed a push and the fans were that push that got Warner Bros. to rectify this situation. A film critic by the name of Sean O'Connell wrote a book about all the reasons this needed to happen and the fans and WB took it from there. Snyder got all the footage and went to work.
The original Justice League film (with re-shoots directed by Joss Whedon) had great cinematography, but this version really accentuated how gorgeous this film is. DC and WB went with a darker look for their films and that helped with cinematography. It gave their film a more gritty feeling to them. A more grounded and lived it feel to them. Fabian Wagner, supervised by Snyder did a great job with this film, making it fit in with the previous films in this series, Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. All the films since have had the same aesthetic to them.
One of the things that were wrong with the previous iteration of this film was the fact that the characters weren't as fleshed out as in previous films. The introduction of Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) wasn't handled very well at all. This version does his character and that of his father justice, no pun intended. Along with some added context to Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), this version helps understand the motivations of why all these characters came together to fight for a common good.
The four-hour cut of the film was cut into six parts. That allows for people to take breaks if needed or even stop the film and come back later to finish watching it. HBO Max was the perfect place to premiere this much longer (and better) version of this film. Longer is sometimes better if it's done right and in this case, it was. Some of the greatest films of all time are very long epics. So being longer, in this case, could only help the film and my viewing experience.
While these new characters had their moments to shine this film was essentially a film about redemption for Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill). They had to have their moments to shine and they both do. Wayne needs to show he's worthy of being a leader and trusted by the rest of the group and Kent just needed to come back and discover what he had lost and how that affects him moving forward. He didn't let this new lease on life go to waste. Thanks to Lois Lane (Amy Adams).
The film also improved on the music and score by Danny Elfman. Thomas Holkenborg was brought in to bolster the score in places and to help give the film the feel it needed in that department. The music was placed in strategic places in this cut to make certain sense feel more necessary and vital to the overall film. This was a great addition to the film.
The visual effects needed a little work as well. Steppenwolf was pretty cool looking in the previous version of the film, but Snyder's version really cleaned him up a lot. He almost looked and sounded like an entirely different character, in a good way. The fight scenes were great as well. Cleaning up the CGI was a must for this cut of the film. Snyder must have known that going in and he delivered on that. The film looked much better on this cut, that's for sure.
The pieces were all in place to make Zack Snyder's Justice League an epic film that it should have been from the start. The cinematography, the music, visual effects, and fleshing out of the story were all key parts of this film. Zack Snyder knew what the fans wanted and he gave it to them. I needed this version as well to wash the stench of the Whedon version out of my mouth. This version is an achievement of filmmaking that stands with other great epics and superhero films alone.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max.