It's been a long road to the highly-anticipated release of Zack Snyder's Justice League, but the film is finally set to drop on March 18 on HBO Max.
With Joss Whedon's original cut of the film releasing to great controversy in 2017, many fans are wondering if The Snyder Cut will mark a great improvement. That question seems to have finally been answered, as today saw the embargo lift for the long-awaited film meaning reactions are starting to pour in from critics.
FIRST REACTIONS TO ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE
With the embargo having finally lifted for Zack Snyder's Justice League, critics have begun publishing their first thoughts on the film, and the overall response seems to be very positive.
The Wrap's Umberto Gonzalez described the film as “FREAKIN' AWESOME” based on his three times watching the film so far. He went on to particularly praise the amazing score produced by Junkie XL and noted it's “action-packed” despite the four-hour time.
#ZackSnydersJusticeLeague does indeed exist, I seen it THREE TIMES now, & IT IS FREAKIN' AWESOME! I had an absolute blast watching each time & shocked at just how good it actually is and how well it plays! Action packed, it hits all the beats & that @Junkie_XL score is straight🔥 pic.twitter.com/UgFW1Le9kA— Umberto Gonzalez (@elmayimbe) March 14, 2021
A reaction from Fico Cangiano noted that the several “story arcs follow-through” from previous films while “every character shines” in a film that is “so, so worth the wait.”
#ZackSnydersJusticeLeague is truly epic. Superior to the 2017 version in every way. Amazing action and score. Every character shines and story arcs follow through from MOS and BvS. Can’t believe this exists. Incredibly satisfied and so, so worth the wait. #RestoreTheSnyderVerse pic.twitter.com/ioDQTvn9ic— Fico (@FicoCangiano) March 14, 2021
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Brail from Heroic Hollywood noted that Snyder's vision is the “perfect companion” to its predecessors, Man of Steel and Batman V Superman.
Eric Davis of Fandango particularly noted that Snyder's cut is “far superior to the original theatrical version,” describing improvements to action, character development, and story.
I can now say that I have watched #ZackSnydersJusticeLeague and it is far superior to the original theatrical version. Rich character development, much better action, a coherent story & some terrific badass moments. Definitely a long watch, but I never felt tired of it. Well done pic.twitter.com/QXyQLdUApv— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) March 14, 2021
Davis compared the film to the original based on multiple viewings noting the difference as significant “tonally, visually, musically, [and] action-wise.”
And I’ve actually watched it more than once, and spent an entire afternoon going back and forth between this new cut and the original to have a clearer understanding of what all changed... and it is significant, I think. Tonally, visually, musically, action-wise. It’s pretty wild pic.twitter.com/51bw4dscoq— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) March 14, 2021
However, Eric Francisco from Inverse noted the film does suffer from “verbose plotting and world-building” and is a “rare personal piece in the impersonal superhero movie complex.”
#ZackSnydersJusticeLeague is pound for pound a more complete picture than in 2017. While it suffers from verbose plotting and world-building, the “Snyder Cut” is a rare personal piece in the impersonal superhero movie complex. Is it better? YES. Is it great? You’ll decide. pic.twitter.com/wuqSmOqTXb— Eric Francisco (@EricFrancisco24) March 14, 2021
However, several reviewers concluded that Snyder's cut of Justice League is largely the same story that was released years ago with an excessively long run time.
The Voice Of Reason described on Twitter that “the movie is an improvement” but “it’s mostly the same story as the theatrical version.”
#ZackSnydersJusticeLeague: At 4 hours in length, the movie is an improvement, has space to breathe, and gives plenty of time to character backstory. Yet, it’s mostly the same story as the theatrical version, still a grandiose vision and well, 4 hours long.— The Voice Of Reason™ 📽🎞📺 (@YrOnlyHope) March 14, 2021
The Emmy-winning journalist concluded that overall “It’s not drastically different except for character expansion” and does mostly feel “like something for the hardcore fans.”
It’s better, but not sure how much it will change your mind if you’re not into the original solemn approach. It’s not drastically different except for character expansion. Still feels like something for the hardcore fans mostly. #ZackSnydersJusticeLeague #SnyderCut— The Voice Of Reason™ 📽🎞📺 (@YrOnlyHope) March 14, 2021
Germain Lussier agreed the film is “both very different, and eerily similar” with “better motivations” and “bigger stakes.”
Zack Snyder's Justice League: I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's both very different, and eerily similar, to the original film with almost all of the changes and additions improving the characters and story. Better motivations. Bigger stakes. It's bloated but superior & worth the wait pic.twitter.com/h7PRADzeJn— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) March 14, 2021
Fandom's Eric Goldman noted Zack Snyder's Justice League is "better than the theatrical cut" and has "some visually cool moments and impressively grand beats."
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is better than the theatrical cut to be sure and it has some visually cool moments and impressively grand beats. It’s also continuing a take on these characters that I just feel very little connection to and I very much felt those four hours.— Eric Goldman (@TheEricGoldman) March 14, 2021
However, Goldman did surprisingly say there's “a lot more of Snyder’s footage in the theatrical cut than the narrative has come to suggest.” Overall the Fandom editor concluded the film is ultimately “a fascinating film school type look” at how a variety of modifications can “greatly change a film’s tone.”
There’s a lot more of Snyder’s footage in the theatrical cut than the narrative has come to suggest, so at the end of the day, this is kind of a fascinating film school type look at how different music choices, editing, and post-production choices can greatly change a film’s tone— Eric Goldman (@TheEricGoldman) March 14, 2021
Forbes' Scott Mendelson emphasized this is largely “the same core movie we saw in 2017 w/ two hours of deleted scenes.” However, he did note the main reasons to watch are a greatly improved action climax and Cyborg finally being given the “deserved spotlight.”
#JusticeLeagueSnyderCut is an assembly cut w/ finished effects. Its the same core movie we saw in 2017 w/ two hours of deleted scenes & some slightly altered versions of existing beats. Two reasons to watch: The action climax is much better and Cyborg gets the deserved spotlight. pic.twitter.com/bUSmiJwccT— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) March 14, 2021
Unfortunately, based on Mendelson's comments the “first 110 minutes are torturously stilted, stagnant and dull” and there's little reason they “couldn't edit this down to 2.5-3 hours.”
There's no reason that Snyder and company couldn't edit this down to 2.5-3 hours. The first 110 minutes are torturously stilted, stagnant and dull. Conversely, there's little reason WB couldn't have released a 150-min version with this footage in theaters back in 2017.— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) March 14, 2021
THE JUSTICE LEAGUE THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN
The overall consensus of these brief first reactions seems to come to a conclusion that Snyder's vision is a massive improvement on the original version of the DC film.
Critics generally concurred the expanded run time has offered the director extra time to explore characters and develop on the story of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. Snyder has always had an immense talent for creating huge visual spectacle and this seems to shine in some greatly improved action sequences.
However, many of the reviews reached the same overall conclusion that the four-hour length may be excessive with upwards of an hour of unnecessary footage that could easily be deleted scenes.
As expected, it seems Zack Snyder's Justice League will be a title that the hardcore fans of the DCEU and Snyder's work will greatly enjoy, however, casual viewers may find the film drags a little.
Zack Snyder's Justice League releases on March 18, exclusively on HBO Max.