Craig Minett’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've had an interesting journey watching Zack Snyder's DCEU films, while I enjoyed Man of Steel, I had issues with the overblown destructive nature of the finale and found it rather cold and clinical. This issue didn't go away after viewing Batman v Superman, I loved its sense of grandeur and ambition, but I could never truly find any emotional enjoyment watching them.
After Zack Snyder left Justice League in early 2017 due to a family tragedy, I was hoping we would still get to see Snyder's vision brought to life, but with the added bonus of Joss Whedon; who was involved in making the hugely entertaining Avengers films. How wrong could I be!
The Justice League film released in 2017 was an absolute travesty, it was a hybrid of two different directors styles and was utterly soulless, lacking in scale, characterisation and just felt like a complete rush job that was only released because they were more interested in profit instead of making a good film.
Since 2017 I've revisited Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Extended cut and they've both grown in my estimation, I could finally see what I had missed in my initial viewing, and while I still think they've issues, I absolutely love the intention and character arcs that play out through the two films, so when I heard Zack Snyder had been given the go ahead to restore his original vision, I was excited. This would be the culmination of what he had been building up to with his earlier films, and what a film Zack Snyder's Justice League turned out to be.
It's full of huge action set pieces and epic scale, it finally restores the character arcs for Cyborg, Flash and gives Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman much more to work with. I also loved seeing a bigger role for Jeremy Irons as Alfred, he's a great asset to the film.
The main structure is similar to Joss Whedon's cut, but it's expanded and the story is much more operatic in scope, the stakes are definitely raised with the complete redesign of the villain Steppenwolf, who is bigger, and a lot more threatening in his physical presence. He also benefits from the new cut as we see him given a backstory and his connection with another even more sinister character called Darkseid.
One of the greatest things to come out of this film is we can finally see the plan Zack had for his Snyderverse, it's going to be a huge disappointment if we don't get to see him complete his vision, but just to see Justice League restored and finally complete is a massive accomplishment for all the people responsible for its resurrection and final release on HBO Max.
The four hour runtime does feel intimidating at first, but it works in the films favour, and it's great to see a director get to release his work without suffering from studio interference. The narrative could be tightened up in a few places and I feel some scenes felt repetitive, but I don't think it harms the overall film.
The length does add a more majestic scale that turns an uninspiring Superhero team up event in 2017, into a monumental achievement in the history of Superhero movies. I just wish more studios were brave enough to commit to making more ambitious and interesting films like this.