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Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) (Part One)

Directed by Zack Snyder. Written by Chris Terrio.

SPOILERS AHEAD! This is an in-depth review of the Snyder Cut for the Justice League film. Part one will review the first two hours of the movie as the film’s runtime is four hours long. Part two (the last two hours) will be reviewed at a later date. The film stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ezra Miller as The Flash.

The film begins by telling audiences that the movie was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. They kept it this way as Zack Snyder wanted this ratio for the film if it was released in IMAX theaters. For those viewers that like the widescreen ratio, they may not appreciate this. The opening scene begins at the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman gets impaled by Doomsday, then lets out these epic screams. Screams that send out soundwaves that penetrate pivotal locations of the DC Universe. It’s haunting to see Superman’s scream echo throughout the world. In this same sequence, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is in a pool with no clear indication of what he’s doing. The scene is poorly executed as it’s clear that Eisenberg is in front of a green screen and perhaps the water around him is even digitally animated. It’s unclear if he’s trying to summon Steppenwolf or trying to activate the mother boxes that the Steppenwolf statue possesses.

Snyder introduces black title cards into the film now. He decided to break up the movie in parts. Around ten minutes into the film, the first black screen with a title is introduced. It reads, “Part 1: “Don’t Count On It, Batman.”” For a lengthy film, these title cards may be nifty to prepare viewers as to what’s to come next. It is reminiscent of how Quentin Tarantino introduces parts into his films.

Snyder injects the film with awkward song sequences and singing. It seems as if he’s going for a somber and emotional tone. In the scene where Bruce tries to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman to the league, Icelandic villagers sing as Aquaman goes underwater to swim as Bruce leaves the area. It comes off as creepy as one of the villagers sniffs Arthur’s discarded shirt while they sing. I believe the singing is why Bruce left.

Steppenwolf’s armor is more metal this time around. Steppenwolf has metal spikes on his armor that can pop outwards if he so pleases. It’s metal, but not an amazing look. Steppenwolf is sent to the earth to obtain the mother boxes. He seems formidable in his fight sequence with the Amazons. He seems to be trying to win the favor of his boss, Darkseid.

After this battle, we meet Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone. Now what’s interesting about this is that new scenes have been added that introduces a new character to the universe. Silas has a lab assistant by the name of Ryan Choi. Yes, the Ryan Choi that becomes Atom. I found this to be refreshing to see an Asian American superhero get introduced into the DC cinematic universe.

Snyder introduces DeSaad, who works for Darkseid too. DeSaad seems to be a loyal soldier to Darkseid that introduces viewers as to why Steppenwolf is doing this for Darkseid. Steppenwolf betrayed Darkseid’s commands, which led to a falling out. Steppenwolf is trying to regain the favor of his Lord. That’s why he’s trying to conquer the earth.

Snyder loves the slow motion sequences. He crafts an amazing one for when the film explores Barry Allen looking for a job in Central City. Allen walks into a doggie day care late for a job interview. He meets a beautiful female, whose name that we don’t get. While Allen talks to the manager, the female leaves and her car starts crashing into a truck driver who runs a red light. Allen runs so fast that time comes to a standstill. He saves the woman and steals a hot dog wiener that’s in the air from the crash. After Allen saves her, they share an awkward, yet romantic look until Barry gets nervous. He runs away–showing the woman his superspeed ability briefly. As the day care owner catches up in time, she sees Barry with the other dogs and feeding one a wiener. Out of all the slow motion scenes, this one is the most beautifully constructed. The others aren’t as creative or they’re for shots that don’t need it.

In the third part of the film, viewers get more insight into the life of Victor Stone/Cyborg. Cyborg didn’t have much character background in the theatrical cut of the film. The Stones are a fragmented family that Snyder does well conveying. Ray Fisher has incredible chemistry with Joe Morton (Silas Stone/Victor’s father) and Karen Bryson (Elinor Stone/Victor’s mother). The movies does a great job of describing Cyborg’s powers to the ones that are new to him. A thorough breakdown of the inner workings of the artificial intelligence system within Victor.

So, for the first two hours of the film, it’s still messy, but better than the theatrical cut. The tone seems to be more cohesive, though there are weird creative choices made by Snyder. Snyder added depth to areas that needed it and others that didn’t. The most impressive details added were for Cyborg. He got the character development that he needed.

Overall rating for part one: 3/5.

By Jordan Lash

My name is Jordan Lash. I write about gaming and comics.

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