“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” finally comes stateside – 4K Ultra HD Sept. 7
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
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AFTER WARNER BROS. released “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on 4K in the U.K. in May – it will be available for U.S. customers on September 7.
We assume it will be presented onto two 4K discs, just like the U.K. version (to insure the highest bitrate for visuals and sound) which we reviewed earlier this month. It also included 24-minute “Road to Justice League” featurette with a new interview with Snyder.
The U.S. set will also include a Blu-ray version.
IT’S THE compelling saga of how movie fans force a Hollywood studio to re-edit and re-release the original theatrical cut of a movie?
They weren’t happy with the third installment of Zack Snyder’s DC Universe trilogy “Justice League” that hit the multiplex in the fall of 2017. They demanded Warner Bros. scrap the Joss Whedon edit and finish the original by Zack Snyder. The campaign was relentless.
Snyder had filmed 100 percent of his version, as well as set up two versions – a rough five-hour edit, and a three-and-a-half hour director’s cut. But when tragedy hit Snyder's family in the spring of 2017, he and his producer wife Deborah stepped back from the picture. While they grieved the loss of their daughter Autumn, 20, Warner Brothers asked writer/director Joss Whedon to complete the film.
Warner didn’t like Snyder’s version anyway. They felt the tone was too dark, predicting “Justice League,” like the previous "Batman v Superman,' would underperform at the box office and with critics. Whedon had a good track record with “The Avengers” film and long-running “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series. He added 80 new script pages, and spent $25 million and several months reshooting “Justice League.”
Whedon gave the film a much lighter touch. It only ran two hours, using a fraction of Snyder’s original footage. The original score from composer Junkie XL (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”) was replaced with a new score from Danny Elfman (“Men in Black,” “Corpse Bride,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”).
But when “Justice League” premiered in 2017, it was a box-office disaster, and fans were furious. At first, Warner denied the “Snyder Cut” existed, though in the end, they had to ‘fess up. Eventually, Warner allocated $70 million so Snyder could complete his vision, adding more visual effects and several minutes of new footage filmed during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Snyder has completely reshaped the norm by framing his version in the old-school square-shaped 1.33:1 aspect ratio. TRUE 4K mastering delivers jaw-dropping visuals, which were captured on traditional Super 35 film, with one scene from an 8K digital camera. This is only a guess, but the ongoing FX shots are more likely in 2K. Total FX rendering time alone would have easily taken more than a year.
Overall clarity is superb – especially the details on actor’s faces – since the framing is so much tighter compared to the super widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Exterior scenes filmed in Iceland are striking. A light wash of natural film grain is evident from start to finish, and the film is split onto two 100 gigabit discs to maximize the best possible picture and sound.
HDR10 (no Dolby Vision) grading is monochromatic, with desaturated color. HBO Max provides a bonus B&W version. It’s not on disc, but that’s an easy fix engineered by dialing color to zero. The blacks are very deep, with plenty of detail in the shadows. Highlights are also striking, while mid-tones show plenty of detail.
The eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack is nice. It's balanced from front to back, with effects and music cues from Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg going to height speakers. A number of songs are included in this cut: two from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “There is a Kingdom” and “Distant Sky”; Rose Betts' cover of Tim Buckley’s 1970 “Starsailor,” and a traditional Icelandic song “Vísur Vatnsenda-Rósu.” Allison Crowe’s cover of the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah” plays over the closing credits. It was Autumn Snyder’s favorite song. There’s plenty of thundering bass response when the Mother boxes are active and in battle scenes.