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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Zack Snyder’s Justice League | A Critical Movie Review

Reviewed By:  Shahalam Tariq

There are some films, or perhaps we should say events marked on the cinematic calendars of many eager consumers of the medium. Regardless of one’s artistic leanings, such events due to the massive uproars they produce in the circles of popular culture receive attention from different groups. Zack Snyder’s ultimate dream project, his vision of Justice League is one such event in recent history, hence light on it should be shed for a more critical analysis.

Jason Momoa Reprises His Role As Aquaman In Snyder Cut
Jason Momoa Reprises His Role As Aquaman In Snyder Cut

And regardless of whatever opinions I hold, I do admire Snyder to a certain extent for chasing his vision to completion, yet as a critic one cannot be too sentimental, for, that would destroy the very purpose of criticism, also, it should be noted that I have not watched the theatrical version of Justice League properly, though I am familiar with how poor of a project it is, nonetheless, I should say that due to this, my opinions on the film stem from treating the film as an independent project rather than as compared to its older versions. Still, some parallels will of course be drawn.

Before I say more, I think it should be said that I never built too high expectations for the film, so the conclusions that eventually emerged from my viewing experience were not a result of betrayed expectations. Snyder’s vision of Justice League may have been marketed as something distinct especially concerning other comic book films and fans have only helped solidify that narrative, yet viewed from a neutral point of view the film falls prey to the same, overused and clichéd tropes common to almost all comic book, or even other franchise-based multi-million dollar projects. And just like those films many things that were highlighted again and again about it as meaningful creative choices, eventually turned out to be shallow gimmicks.

What Didn’t Click In Zack Snyder’s Justice League

The most obvious flaw of the film is the extremely clichéd, uninspired, and lackluster writing of the film. Both the dialogue and the plot fall victim to such troupes. Plot-wise, Justice League takes a very formulaic approach, reminiscent of many MCU and other “save the world” action films, though while following such patterns it could have made itself stand out by making some good creative choices as Snyder did have full control over the project, yet what he did with his creative freedom was take an age-old template of a plot, filled in the blanks for character names and called it a day.

Henry Cavill as Superman in Justice League Snyder Cut 2021 Movie
Henry Cavill as Superman in Justice League Snyder Cut 2021 Movie

Such a lazy decision was taken by an artist on what is seen as his “dream” project, something he worked on years for, is reflective of how these “theme park” franchises are usually artistically dishonest. The plot follows the same pattern which reminds of much older mainstream over-hyped films, see if this doesn’t sound like a cliché to you, Batman goes to Aquaman for help, he refuses but then comes in a heroic moment with a changed decision, same happens when Wonder Woman goes to Cyborg, though that scene is filled with even more cheesy drama. 

Analysis of Characters

If we dissect the characters we will see underlying them the same old ingredients that we typically do in as I said before other such franchises, the cyborg is your sad emo guy who doesn’t show his soft side too much yet does have one, oh and The Flash, that guy was the epitome of cringe, he could I think to be best described by the phrase “Pawn Shop Peter Parker”. Darkseid is one of the worst villains ever who lacks any depth at all and his motivation to bend the whole universe to his will is so overdone, though Snyder did manage to change things here by giving his character even less depth than such characters are usually given, then, of course, we have Steppenwolf, who, whenever he opens his mouth sounds less like a force of evil and more like a trailer voice-over guy thanks to his extremely clichéd dialogue with such lines as “the great darkness begins”, this trend of cringe-worthy dialogue is practiced by all characters in the film. For example, Steppenwolf tells his companions to not attack Wonder Woman as he wants to fight her, the exchange between them goes like this;

Steppenwolf: This one is mine.

Wonder Woman: I belong to no one.

I mean, just look at that, how in the world could a writer working at such a level positively think of this line as a clever and humorous one. I should perhaps summarize the criticism on writing by attaching to it one word that can perfectly describe it, that is “predictable”. To emphasize my point a little further, I’d like to point towards one scene, the one where they awaken Superman and he goes all berserk. Didn’t literally everyone predict that now Lois will come and he will calm down? This also shows how badly characters were written, for, we can easily trace such character traits to many powerful angry characters such as Hulk and King-Kong.

Technical Analysis

Direction-wise too Snyder made many poor choices, many of which we can say perhaps weren’t inherently bad choices, but the context in which those creative decisions were made did make them seem as such. The film tried to present itself as more aesthetically pleasing and artistically commendable in a visual sense yet it failed to do so, I think that is because Snyder really badly used many troupes he think would fit in well, basically what happened is that Snyder’s “artistic” choices conflicted directly with the overall commercial nature of the film, which resulted in a very dry and washed up try at visual mastery. The film was also burdened heavily by uninspired and generic shots and camera work, even cinematography wise if there were any good decisions made (like once or twice) they too were scarred by the commercialized approach of the film.

DC's Best Superheroes In A Single Frame
DC’s Best Superheroes In A Single Frame

Even Snyder’s musical choices were horrible, they never sat well with the scenes they were attached to, especially those weird extremely generic rock songs which made scenes give the vibes of a toy commercial. Oh and the overuse of slow-mo as extremely annoying, unnecessary, and lazy. Hence the film, as much as it tried to imitate the more artistic side of cinema, failed miserably at it, thanks to the confusion of its director.

The acting too fell prey to issues, though much of it can be attached to the writing. Though some actors, especially Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller did an extremely awful job at portraying their characters, both fell victim to over-dramatization/overacting in general. Though others too didn’t do much, nonetheless were bearable.

I guess that is it, to sum it all up, Justice League Snyder Cut is nothing special, it’s not what it’s made out to be, much of its praise can be linked to just the eagerness or even sympathy of fans for Snyder. Artistically the film offers nothing new, even as a mainstream project it doesn’t offer anything which hasn’t been done countless times before.

The World of Movies Rating – 6/10

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