I am a fan of Zack Snyder’s work on 300 and Watchmen. I didn’t think Man of Steel showed an understanding of the Superman character and found Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to be an utter mess as it failed to merge two classic comic book stories (The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman) into one movie. When Snyder had to step away due to family matters, the powers that be at Warner Brothers brought in Joss Whedon, who directed the first two Avengers movies for Marvel, to finish post production on Justice League, which involved reshoots. I enjoyed it more than BvS, which was an easy task, but had no idea who the villain Steppenwolf was nor what he was up to aside from an invasion.
A passionate, annoying group of fans disappointed with the hybrid Justice League, which didn’t do as well as needed at the box office and led executives to reconsider the DC Extended Universe, began a campaign to #RestoreTheSnyderCut. Setting aside that there was no Snyder Cut at the time, their relentless, pervasive calls across social media worked, which future movie executives may regret. For numerous reasons that hopefully have been or will be compiled into a book, Snyder was brought back to the project, spent an additional $70 million, and released Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max.
The basic premise is the same: Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) organize a team of heroes to combat an alien menace. Thousands of years ago, Darkseid attempted to takeover Earth but his army of Parademons was defeated by an alliance mainly composed of Amazons, Atlanteans, and humans. The aliens intended to use a weapon comprised of three living machines called Mother Boxes, but before they united to unleash their destruction, the alliance separated them and guarded them over the eons. Superman’s death awoke the boxes, leading to Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), Darkseid’s underling, to attempt another assault on Earth. The action sequence between Steppenwolf’s forces and the Amazons over the Mother Box is an epic battle but makes one ask why Steppenwolf and Darkseid didn’t try anytime before Superman arrived on Earth, and why waste the causalities when the transporting device (boom tube) could grab the box?
One of the boxes is being hidden by S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Silas Stone (Joe Morton), father of Victor (Ray Fisher), who used the box to save his son’s life after a car accident by turning him into a Cyborg. The film adds a lot to the story of these two characters and make both much more interesting than the theatrical version. Cyborg’s box is used to revive Superman (Henry Cavill), but unaware of what’s happening, he briefly fights against the Justice League, before the united team takes on Steppenwolf.
Snyder and cinematographer Fabian Wagner craft visually appealing scenes. This movie could be a picture book with all the outstanding images if presents. However, they overuse slow motion. And having Wonder Woman fight terrorists at an accelerated speed makes the Flash (Ezra Miller) redundant, aside from the welcome comic relief and being the key to victory, and it creates confusion why she always doesn’t fight like that. There are multiple, extended prologues that should delight fans and create hope and a hashtag Zack Snyder’s Justice League 2.
The video has been “presented in a 4:3 format to preserve the integrity of the director’s vision.” The film has a dark, gritty production design. Blacks are inky but don’t crush. Colors appear mostly in stoung, dull hues. The texture detail is very fine, showing off the work from different crew departments. The image’s sharpness and depth is as clear as intended. However, there are moments when the CGI work doesn’t keep the illusion in tact.
The audio is available in Dolby Atmos, which I heard in 7.1. The track immerses the viewer with ambiance and effects that are position in the soundfield and move about channels during the action sequences. Tom Holkenborg’s score augments the audio experience without overwhelming, as does the subwoofer which booms without overwhelming. Dialogue is clear.
The movie is spread across two discs. Surprisingly, and likely rectified on a future release, there’s only one extra. Disc 1 contains the behind-the-scenes look, Road to Justice League (HD, 25 min),
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an entertaining superhero spectacle. While superior to the previous iteration, it’s unfair to compare them because no way was Warner Brothers going to release a 4-hour, R-rated film, which plays more like a TV miniseries. It offers a better story and characterizations, although the resolution to victory felt like a bit of a cheat and had been done in a previous DC superhero movie. The Blu-ray delivers an impressive high-def experience. The fans got this one right. Hope it doesn’t go to their heads because they have gotten quite a few wrong.