The first reviews for Zack Snyder’s Justice League have started rolling in, and so far, the consensus is clear: The film easily surpasses the theatrical cut that Joss Whedon fumbled in 2017, which infamously bombed with critics and audiences and almost took down the entire DC Extended Universe with it. This new version, better known as the Snyder Cut, has nearly reached a mythological status amongst hardcore Snyder fans who have clamored for its release after learning that the director was supposedly sitting on a rough cut of his original version for Justice League. Many doubted its existence, or that it would ever see the light of day, but thanks to WarnerMedia needing content for its burgeoning HBO Max streaming service, a shocking $70 million was reportedly ponied up for Snyder to finally release his definitive version of the film.
But now that it’s here, what do critics think? Again, there’s definitely a consensus that the film is a significant improvement, thanks to its singular vision that was lacking in the Whedon version, which felt like two very different films stapled together. However, there are concerns over the film’s four-hour plus length and how well it will connect with audiences who aren’t die-hard Snyder fans. Because the film is very much a Zack Snyder film for every single frame of its very long runtime. Whether that will be general audience’s cup of tea will be interesting to see when Zack Snyder’s Justice League starts streaming later this week.
You can see excerpts from early reviews below:
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
Yes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is just over four hours long, divided into individual chapters in case a person doesn’t want to watch it all in one sitting. And most of that padded time is used to show us the backstories of each of the characters, which kind of reveals the biggest problem with both of these versions: in that it came out way too early in this DC Universe that was being built. In Whedon’s version we knew almost nothing about these characters. In Snyder’s version we know more, and it certainly helps the story, but now it’s a four hour movie about searching for magic, world-destroying boxes.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
The new movie — and make no mistake, it really is a new movie — is more than a vindication of Snyder’s original vision. It’s a grand, nimble, and immersive entertainment, a team-of-heroes origin story that, at heart, is classically conventional, yet it’s now told with such an intoxicating childlike sincerity and ominous fairy-tale wonder that it takes you back to what comic books, at their best, have always sought to do: make you feel like you’re seeing gods at play on Earth.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
Did Snyder really intend the original film to last four hours? Well, this one does: an epic so splurgingly huge that you can see how it might have been purposed as four streaming episodes. Yet its dramatic and theological craziness only really come across when you consume it all at once.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire:
Yet the overall arc of this “Justice League” coheres throughout, providing occasional dashes of intrigue and inspired visual conceits, and sometimes it’s even fun. Re-centering the drama around ostracized actor Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and drawing out some of the ostentatious fight sequences to their breaking point, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” displays genuine effort to make this impossible gamble click.
A.A. Down, AV Club:
For better or worse, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a reclamation, and a blow struck for unchecked artistic ego in the face of the endless (if maybe sometimes sensible) notes of meddling studio execs. No one would confuse this cut, with its hero-pose tableau, Nick Cave needle drops, and depressive caped crusaders, for the work of any other filmmaker.
Amon Warmann, Empire:
Typically for a Snyder movie, a big chunk of the hefty running time is spent in super slow motion. Sometimes, the director overindulges … but generally it’s used in the service of accentuating action beats. At times, it feels needlessly violent … but more often than not it feels satisfying, especially in a crowdpleasing final act.
Todd McCarthy, Deadline:
One could easily damn Justice League with faint praise for its single-minded sense of purpose, exceptional technical expertise and consistency of tone. You could more easily lambast it for the same reasons. It just drones un-varyingly along, like a spaceship on a very long journey.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:
Zack Snyder superhero movies are the black licorice of cinema: Those who like the taste can’t understand why everyone doesn’t, and those who don’t like the taste grimace at the thought. And now the streaming wars and online clamor have brought us “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.” It’s four hours of black licorice.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres March 18 on HBO Max.