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iReview | Zack Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE on 4K Ultra HD

The ultimate reimagining of ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE finally comes home in a stunning 4K Ultra HD presentation and collectible packaging that validates the director’s vision and will hopefully reassert the potential of DC’s cinematic legacy.

The greatest heroes… considered the archetypes by which all others are predicated upon DC Comics’ Justice League have had a storied evolution, as does the long road to its eventual big-screen adaptation. When Warner Bros announced that it would begin to walk the path set by its “marvelous” competitor and would introduce interconnected cinematic universe audiences couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. After concluding the groundbreaking Dark Knight Trilogy that ultimately redefined the Batman character, filmmaker Christopher Nolan tapped director Zack Snyder to begin to set the wheels in motion for the eventual assembling of DC’s pantheon of heroes on the blockbuster set.

Zack Snyder, who had a mildly dubious bit of success with the cinematic adaptation of Alan Moore’s best selling graphic novel Watchman (2009) would inaugurate his return to DC properties with a Nolan inspired reimagining of the Superman mythology with Man of Steel (2013) starring Henry Cavill as the titular Last Son of Krypton. Although critics and fans were taken aback by Snyder’s very dark “real world” rendition of Superman, a series of hidden Easter Eggs suggested that the film was as intended a stepping stone for a larger world. The next installment in Snyder’s expanding universe cast Ben Affleck as the latest actor to don the cape and cowl for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). This chapter also introduced Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, establishing the trinity of heroes.

This film was also criticized by reviewers and fans who were not impressed by the darkly tainted and hopeless narrative that ends with the brutal death of Superman and a world left to mourn the alien champion who risked everything to save us all. At the conclusion of the story, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince are more determined than ever to find other metahumans for what is predicted as an invasion of cosmic proportions. BvS established the presence of the fastest man alive, an undersea defender, and a technological man-machine and power from beyond the stars what would require a new age of heroes. Justice League (2017) would bring them all together…but not really. With the film in full swing and after the success of Gadot’s Wonder Woman (2017) fans were ready for a cinematic DC universe.

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Even before its release Justice League was already an ambitious effort. Marvel Studios had a string of successful establishing franchises before it braved the new world of the serialized blockbuster and brought all of its headliners together for Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) directed by Joss Whedon (remember that name; as if). When Justice League debuted it did so without its director; Snyder and his wife, Deborah Snyder (producer on the film) suffered a personal, family tragedy that forced them to leave the film in the hands of Warner Bros, which was largely unhappy with Snyder’s initial pass of the film. The studio had asked Snyder to scale down his epic and liven it up; the director had turned in an effort that was over 4-hours long and followed in the same vein as his previous two DC films.

Unfortunately, the Snyders had to step away and agreed to ask Joss Whedon to finish Justice League in time to meet its 2017 theatrical release. Instead of pursuing the take and momentum of the film that Snyder had steadied on, Whedon took the studios notes, and an extraordinary amount of money and reshot much of the film, while heavily retreating the script. The result was a shorter, much more consumer-friendly offering, but a total disappointment that looked and felt disjointed, and lacked any effectiveness. Justice League underperformed in theaters and fans were not impressed. Even the cast appeared less than thrilled with the end result and it wasn’t long before many of them started to speak out, especially Ray Fisher who was cast as Cyborg. But they weren’t the only ones voicing their descent.

In the months that would follow, many of the creatives associated with the making of Justice League began to express just how different the final film would have been if the Studio hadn’t interfered and especially if Joss Whedon hadn’t been handed the reigns. Ultimately bits of “animatronic shots” that had been extracted from Snyder’s directors cut were made public; many included very different takes on the film’s villain Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) and also the revelation of the story’s real threat, Darkseid (which Whedon cut entirely from his narrative). The characters of The Flash played by Ezra Miller and Fisher’s Cyborg were incrementally rewritten with much of their importance diminished, with terrible fancies and gags thrown in to lighten the overall tone.

The rallying cry for the release of the “Snyder Cut” lead to a movement, and Warner Bros respectfully responded. Zack Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE is the result and transcends the original theatrical cut in unimaginable ways by leaps and bounds. The film is epic in length (closer to the director’s 4-hour cut) and is broken up into proper acts that are composed of complete chapters; the 4K Ultra HD package divides the film across 2-discs. Just a reminder: when WB announced Justice League in its slate of DCCU releases, it was pitched as a two-parter in much the same way that Marvel Studios delivered two acts in its Infinity War. The feature film (presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio) inaugurated the subscription service HBO Max and the now packaged 4K release is thin on bonus features,

The 4k Ultra HD, Blu-ray package includes the full-length film in its startling high-def presentation and also includes the Special Feature documentary Road to Justice League which chronicles Zack Snyder’s vision for the three films in his trilogy. An additional gift-set is also available with all three films and includes unique lenticular art and an illustration of the Anti-Life Equation, the sum total power source that is the ultimate weapon Darkseid is seeking to control. You haven’t seen Justice League until you see it in its true form, as the director intended. Not entirely perfect, but in every way it far matches the expectations of everyone that has ever wanted to see their favorite heroes come to life. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is expansive in scope and delivers. Perhaps (to some) it doesn’t live, but it is respectfully an adventure worth embarking on.

ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE and ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE TRILOGY are available now in 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray packages with a collectible 3-film package that includes all three of the films in Zack Snyder’s trilogy with lenticular photos featuring each member of the team and original art from celebrated DC comics artists.

  • 4-Disc set; Parts 1 & 2 on individual discs.

  • Special Feature documentary Road to Justice League chronicles Zack Snyder’s three films in his trilogy.

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