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Zack Snyder’s Justice League (4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review)

While I don’t agree with or appreciate the toxic way in which fanboys went about demanding the “Snyder Cut” of 2017’s Justice League, I’m happy that it existed, was greenlit to be finished and we were able to all check it out. Debuting as a crown jewel of HBO MAX, it was the talk of town for comic book movie nerddom for a bit. Even if it underwhelmed with its streaming numbers, it felt like a rewarding experience for those who wanted it and converted plenty who didn’t believe. A nice closing chapter on the lengthy saga of 4 years. We can now all move on. Already available outside the US (Likely because not every country has HBO MAX access), the film dubbed Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be available on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on September 7th. You can pre-order the set from the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review to have when it arrives just after Labor day.

Film

Determined to ensure Superman’s (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes. Now united, Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf, DeSaad and Darkseid and their dreadful intentions.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a big swing and grand vision of tackling the DC superheroes in a big way, with a strong voice from its director. This new version is very much in the vein of things like Tim Burton’s Batman Returns or Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Sitting back and letting the creator just go after previous efforts. Not that Snyder may or may not have done that with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but with Justice League it feels like he just has this big, open platform to populate with his ideas, style and characters in any which way he can, but loose.

Sure, the Snyder version of the film features the same core narrative of a group of superheroes coming together to stop a big space interdimensional space monster from collecting boxes to open a portal to have an even bigger, meaner space monster take over. But, the key difference is in “how” this story is told. Beyond extra scenes of our heroes, giving them more background, more time with each other, our villain Steppenwolf (who’s 1968 self titled album is the best one according to the internet) actually has a mission that is clear to follow. Steppenwolf is perhaps the most improved aspect of this cut as the film not only defines his quest, but gives him more menace and actually builds genuine stakes and dread.

As I touched on, its “how” the story is told. And not just extra scenes, its the alternate ones and different takes that form a much more successful and engaging film. The action here is shot and cut much better. The scale of the film is much more epic and grand fashion. The film builds to a rather big and worthy cinematic finale. Even though I had seen a similar version of this movie before, I found myself incredibly more engaged and actually thrilled with the climactic sequence in the film. There was a big journey that had built to this moment and it felt like there was an actual danger with an actual clock that was clicking toward certain doom. Henry Cavill’s return hit me quite well and it was excited for him to rejoin and save the day. For me, it all worked.

While I am high on the film, its not without its flaws. There’s a better, shorter, cut of the film to be found in this expansive Snyderverse epic. The film, especially in parts 1 &2, has a lot of fat laying out for obvious trim. But in this case of doing something for the fans and people wanting to showcase a “complete” vision, I’m much more forgiving on its presence. There are also a boatload of stylistic slow motion choices that happen more often than sex scenes in porn films, which are to almost parody levels of usage. But, that’s how Snyder rolls and I’m all about letting him do his thing be over indulgent (Bring me more woman singing at Aquaman, lets get nuts). And to be warned, these are very much the personalities and deconstructive types of characters with no apologies made to them as were set up before this which has been pretty contentious with audiences and critics from the get-go of Man of Steel.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is going to have its place in comic book superhero movie history with its swelling into existence and this open look at such grandiose indulgent vision, for better or for worse. Even if you aren’t a fan, you were at the very least curious to see what entailed in this alternate cut of a film featuring Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg. Purely as a film enthusiast, I’m always interested in official alternate edits of films as its a fantastic open door into the overall process and mind of the director/writer/studio/etc in finding the story and what their unfiltered beast was or could have been. And this 4 hour Justice League delivers on that in pretty much every way it can. Sure, its long, but its neatly been broken into parts/chapters to make a revisit a lest exhaustive and more relaxing experience.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-100 (2-Discs)

Clarity/DetailZack Snyder’s Justice League is a native 4K title and beautifully extends itself to a terrific transfer on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. The image retains the 1.33:1 aspect ratio as seen on HBO MAX to preserve Snyder’s very IMAX conscious vision. This picture, frame to frame, is quite polished, crisp and very sharp. Details run rampant all throughout. From carpet/floor textures and patterns all the way to the details on each hero’s suit. The CGI creatures and environments are also very well displayed here with plenty to look at.  Having this rich performance does not weaken the computer produced visuals in any way, either.

Depth:  The film features some excellent spacing and depth of field. And yeah, it handle’s the scale of the film with ease, always feeling quite large while not taking up all of your screen. Movements are smooth and natural with no issue regarding motion distortions or jitter during any rapid action.

Black Levels: Well, this grim movie rather handles its blacks with very natural abilities. The shadowing and differentiation on shades of blacks is done in impressive fashion. Details remain quite appealing even in some of the darker corners. Among them, Superman’s outfit is pretty impressive with its textures and patterns as well as Batman’s. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Despite the grimdark fantasy look to the film, there are some nice color saturations on display as well as some bold, strong work on primaries. The blacks really help contrast and get some strong pops on many of the colors. HDR helps to accentuate some of the reddened skies, energy/fantastical/magical beams and bolts as well as lightning, Cybrog’s eye, car lights and more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a coolness to them and maintain a consistent appearance from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures like wrinkles, make-up, lip texture, freckles, sweat, dried dirt/blood and more are easy to discern from any given (And reasonable) distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French Dolby Atmos, German Dolby Atmos, Italian 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Italian SDH, Japanese, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Swedish

Dynamics: The Dolby Atmos track on Zack Snyder’s Justice League is quite a treat, which really shouldn’t be a surprise. Its a very active, busy film with lots going on and plenty of giant action sequences to push your sound system into fun places. The mix is well balanced with good layers and the vocals/effects/score working in tandem with one another in harmonious fashion. Its every bit as thrilling a mix as you’d anticipate.

Height:  There is a lot of fun from above, be it the buggy aliens, debris falling, the Bat-machine thing crawling in the sewers, beams and bolts and action aplenty.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer hits pretty good here as the film features plenty of punches, crashes, explosions, load roaring engines, deeply voices aliens and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: The mix here easily works its way around the room and back again. This track expertly weaves its way around, crafting a 360 degree experience with very impactful rolling motion that showcases a nice power across the room. Environments see great ambiance and plenty of unique sounds to create an awareness of what isn’t on the screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp with good detailed attention and delivery of actor diction and mouth sounds. No matter how intense the action gets, it features a clear projection and feels at one with its environment.

Extras

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a 4-disc set and comes with the 2-Disc standard Blu-ray edition. Parts 1-4 & the featurette are on Disc 1. Parts 5, 6 and Epilogue are on Disc 2.

Road To Justice League (HD, 24:40) – Act more as a prepper for getting ready to watch the film as Zack Snyder talks his mentality, inspirations and approach to adapting comics to film as other laud and praise his vision and working with him.

Summary

I was an eye-roller, “get over it, dorks” and annoyed person when it came to the demanding of the Snyder Cut for Justice League. Curiosity had me wanting to see the cut someday, but doubtful it would move the needle for me much. And I’ll eat crow, as surprisingly the film played much better for me and I actually really appreciate this version of the film and found myself a lot more into and enjoying than I every would have expected to be. Warner Bros gives you an opportunity to own it here with a terrific 4K presentation with both audio and video for the film. The extra is a bit fluffy, but has some decent stuff and allows a little into the mind and personality of Zack Snyder that is appreciated. I’m not sure if there will ever be a sort of deluxe edition of the film as I know Warner Bros would like to move forward and past this chapter, but if you want to continue to show support, you’ll definitely want to pick it up.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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