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Zack Snyder's Justice League Movie Review - Age of Heroes Comes Again

A long but more coherent and majestic vision.

Reviewed by on Mar 15, 2021
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It’s mythic and more satisfying for DC fans but should it have been presented as a streaming mini-series? Extra exposition makes for an over-long epic.



In Zack Snyder's Justice League, the world is depressed and still mourning the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) learns that a massive attack from outside Earth is coming. He and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) try to assemble a team of metahumans with impressive powers to stand together against the coming threat. Everyone has personal demons to overcome before being comfortable working in a team. When the super-powered group isn’t gung-ho to join the party, it’s a race against time to convince them to get together. Then there’s the Superman problem. Would it ever be possible to bring him back?

The Justice League united - Cyborg, The Flash, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and AquamanThe Justice League unitedCourtesy of HBO Max

Part 1 – Don’t Count on it, Batman

Under opening credits, we relive the painful death of Superman. We see that Cyborg (Ray Fisher) has a square black box he is protecting. Another box is under the guardianship of Atlantean princess Mera (Amber Heard) undersea. On the Amazon island of Themyscira, a box guarded by Amazons awakens, shakes and splits open! Meanwhile, in a frozen land, a horseman walks a high ridge. It’s Bruce Wayne. He walks down to a settlement far below where he tries to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) to join a group of metahumans to battle a coming threat from the stars. Arthur isn’t into it and retreats to the sea.

Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is reluctant to be King or join the LeagueAquaman is reluctant to be King or join the LeagueCourtesy of HBO Max

In Smallville, Martha Kent (Diane Lane) visits her son Clark’s grave then drives away from the foreclosed-upon Kent farm. In the city, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) sadly visits the destroyed memorial to Superman. She comes here every day. In London, Wonder Woman fights terrorists and frees schoolgirl hostages. On Themyscira the box goes quiet and comes back on. A shaft of light beams down from the sky and the evil alien warrior Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his flying Parademons come out of it. Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) runs with the box and a huge battle of keep-away follows but ultimately Steppenwolf gets it.  

Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) arrivesSteppenwolf arrivesCourtesy of HBO Max

Part 2 – The Age of Heroes

Steppenwolf sets up his stronghold inside a ruined Chernobyl nuclear reactor, sending his Parademons out to find the other two “Mother Boxes”.  When put together they will form “The Unity”. This should please his boss Darkseid (Ray Porter). Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is still searching for metahuman warriors to join his League. He video-checks out young Barry Allen/The Flash, worried that the new enemy may already be on Earth. Scientist Silas Stone (Joe Morton) wraps up a day at his lab when a Parademon breaks through the roof. Stone then goes to visit his son Victor/Cyborg telling him of the box missing from the lab. While, on the island, Hippolyta shoots the ancient Arrow of Artemis to the Land of Men knowing her daughter Diana will know what this means. Diana finds it burning at an ancient temple and knows war has come….again. Using the arrow to open a labyrinth below, she sees murals of three boxes united and a portrait of a creepy dark leader.

Dr. Silas Stone (Joe Morton) has the Motherbox guarded by MankindDr. Stone has the Motherbox guarded by MankindCourtesy of HBO Max

After saving a sailor from a sinking boat, Aquaman is approached underwater by Vulko (Willem Dafoe) and asked to take his rightful place as King of Atlantis. Dark forces want the Motherbox long protected by the Atlanteans. Aquaman is still reluctant to join the fight. In the reactor stronghold, Darkseid’s torturer and right-hand man DeSaad (Peter Guinness) appears and asks for an update from Steppenwolf who wants to end his banishment and go home. He owes Darkseid for an earlier betrayal.  Diana Prince tells Batman/Bruce what she knows about the coming enemy. They have been here before and humans, Atlanteans, Amazons, Gods and more united to fight them. She explains what the Motherboxes are; living machines that, once united, can transform Earth into a duplicate of the conquerors’ planet leaving any humans remaining as slaves of Darkseid.

Darkseid (Ray Porter) on his throneDarkseid on his throneCourtesy of HBO Max

The hero defenders won and sent the three boxes to be guarded by Men, Amazons and Atlanteans. They must never be reunited. Something woke the Amazonian box and now Darkseid’s key general Steppenwolf is here. He has that box and will be searching for the other two. It’s time for an Age of Heroes to come again!

Part 3 – Beloved Mother, Beloved Son

In Central City, Barry Allen sees a girl he is attracted to and has to use his super-speed to rescue her from a horrible car wreck. Bruce and Diana decide he will approach Barry and she will recruit Victor Stone now Cyborg. We flash back to Victor’s story; football hero horribly injured in the car wreck that killed his mother. Dad is always working and uses the Motherbox given to Mankind to turn his shattered son into Cyborg. Victor practices using his new powers, giving an impoverished woman money from an ATM he can control. Meanwhile, Barry Allen visits his wrongly-accused dad in prison. Dad warns him not to waste his life. Barry has a high tech mini-lab in an old warehouse where he is confronted by Bruce. Barry agrees to join the League right away.

Will the Flash (Ezra Miller) join the League?Will the Flash join the League?Courtesy of HBO Max

Diana gets a message from Cyborg to meet him. They commiserate on losing someone they love. He listens but flies away burying the Motherbox at his mom’s gravesite. Dr. Stone is grabbed at his lab by Parademons and put with other captives. Cyborg sees that his dad has been taken. Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons) uses the bat signal to summon Batman while, in Atlantis, Mera and Aquaman fight Steppenwolf for their Motherbox but, ultimately, Steppenwolf wins and takes it. Again Aquaman refuses to take his place as Atlantean King. Steppenwolf again reports to DeSaad that he now has two of the three boxes and prisoners to tell him where the third is.

Cyborg (Ray Fisher) will join with the MotherboxesCyborg will join with the MotherboxesCourtesy of HBO Max

Part 4 – Change Machine

Responding to the bat signal, Batman, with Wonder Woman and The Flash, explains to Gordon about the Parademons that have been grabbing people all over town. Cyborg joins them to say his dad has just been taken. They track the Parademons to Stryker’s Island and the superheroes fight together to rescue the prisoners with the help of Batman’s Nightcrawler vehicle sent by Alfred (Jeremy Irons). When harbor water starts breaking through, Aquaman appears to hold it back. He tells the League that Steppenwolf now has two of the boxes having acquired the Atlantean one. The last is now with Cyborg.  We learn that Earth was the only planet able to resist Darkseid’s invasions. There is an “Anti-Life” power here that he must have as well.

Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) unitedAquaman, Cyborg and The Flash unitedCourtesy of HBO Max

At the Batcave, Cyborg explains the history of the box guarded by Mankind. There is a connection between the box and Superman’s Kryptonian ship. His dad kept the box after using its power to create him. The boxes are neither good nor evil but work at the will of their masters. They can reinstate and recreate. All of the League members think…could they bring Superman back? Only his power could defeat this menace. Martha Kent visits the grieving Lois encouraging her to go back to work and live her life. Lois still mourns. She might be pregnant. She decides to go back to work at the Daily Planet. We later see that her visitor was not Martha but shape-shifter the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix) who wants to help. The League reluctantly agrees to use the box to re-animate Superman.

Wonder Woman(Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg inside Steppenwolf's lairWonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg inside Steppenwolf's lairCourtesy of HBO Max

Part 5 – All the King’s Horses

Superman's (Henry Cavill) power is needed for victorySuperman's power is needed for victoryCourtesy of HBO Max

The Flash and Cyborg dig Superman’s coffin up while Alfred and Batman work on his ship whose tech is tied to that of the Motherboxes. Dr. Stone helps them hide their project at his Star Labs. After much fanfare and the help of The Flash to power the sleeping Motherbox, there is a huge explosion and Superman levitates over the city, alive again but confused. At his destroyed memorial statue, he fights the League members who want to help him. Only the arrival of his love Lois can bring his memories back and he flies away with her. Even though Dr. Stone sacrifices himself to protect the last box, Steppenwolf gets it but Stone’s special laser has superheated it and now it can be tracked by its heat signature.

Cyborg (Ray Fisher) knows his dad is sacrificing himselfCyborg knows his dad is sacrificing himselfCourtesy of HBO Max

Part 6- Something Darker

Superman and Lois arrive at the old Kent farm and he remembers his old life. At the Batcave, the League has tracked the box to Chernobyl. Cyborg wants to link with the boxes since he is made of the same powersource then destroy them from within. It might kill him. The Flash will use his power to propel Cyborg inside the “Unity” of the boxes.  Cyborg feels he now has nothing to lose but they need Superman to be victorious. At the farm, Superman realizes how badly he is needed. He hears his two fathers’ voices. This is what he is meant to do on Earth. He flies to help. Everyone has a job in this massive final battle. The boxes synchronize before Cyborg can connect with them. The Flash has to move fast enough to roll back time. Will our heroes be successful?

Superman (Henry Cavill) is ready to helpSuperman is ready to helpCourtesy of HBO Max

Epilogue- A Father Twice Over

Cyborg listens to an old taped message of pride from his dad. Aquaman goes to see his own dad and Bruce and Diana talk about a new HQ with a round table for the Justice League. Barry makes his dad proud and Bruce has helped Clark get the family farm back. Batman and Wonder Woman go back to protecting people and, in Arkham institution Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) escapes, goes to his yacht, meets with Slade Wilson/Deathstroke and gives him Batman’s secret identity.

Batman (Ben Affleck) does his partBatman does his partCourtesy of HBO Max

Alternate Timelines/Universes

Batman, Mera and some of the League try to protect a now barren Earth from Parademons. Joker (Jared Leto) is there blaming Batman for it all. Bruce wakes.. it’s a dream? The Martian Manhunter appears and will join the League. Darkseid will be back for the Anti-Life equation. They must find it before he does. War will come again.

Wrapping Up

After Justice League, partially directed by Joss Whedon, appeared in theaters in 2017 to disappointed fans, there has been a demand for the Zack Snyder version… all 4 hours of it. Now HBO Max money has allowed Snyder to finish his original creation.

Zack Snyder directs Ben Affleck and Gal GadotZack Snyder directs Ben Affleck and Gal GadotCourtesy of HBO Max

Make no mistake, this film is for the fans. Who else would watch an over 4-hour movie on a subject already covered (however lamely?). It’s a massive epic jumping from locale to locale at breakneck speed but each character is given full development and his or her own story arc. We get more on everyone but the focus is on Cyborg/Vincent Stone and Barry Allen/The Flash, beautifully performed by Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller. All of the League members get a turn to shine and each personal trauma that must be overcome is now fully explored. There is much more emotion and there are more personal scenes to involve us.

The Snyder cut is packed full of exposition, some of the story strings revealed more than once, but now the storyline finally makes sense! Action and huge set pieces are impressive-looking although we can tell when human actors are replaced at times by CGI.

It is great that the film is on HBO-Max so viewers can take breaks if needed and absorb the whole bloated over four hours. I would have preferred a mini-series presentation. Snyder has already divided his epic into six parts which should make this easy.  No film should be over four hours long and story-heavy. The first Justice League didn’t tell us enough. This one, too much.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) uses her lasso on SteppenwolfWonder Woman uses her lasso on SteppenwolfCourtesy of HBO Max

I don’t see the need for the Epilogue pieces but they are interesting. I would consider myself a fan but not of the rabid, all-consuming variety. I was happy to have blanks filled in and enjoyed many of the added scenes including a funny response by Cyborg when Flash/Barry asks if Wonder Woman might go for a younger guy. “She’s 5,000 years old. Every guy is a younger guy”.

Despite its packed-to-the-brim length, this darker, respectful tribute to beloved DC characters is something for fans to treasure. We award four stars.

Zack Snyder's Justice League Movie Rating: 4

Zack Snyder's Justice League Movie Review - Age of Heroes Comes AgainCourtesy of HBO Max

See Zack Snyder's Justice League streaming on HBO Max starting March 18th.