Zack Synder’s Justice League is a reboot as well as an act of resurrection. The XXXL-sized update of the 2017 superhero movie, from which Snyder walked away during post-production after his daughter’s death by suicide, is designed to do justice to his original vision as well as ensure that the franchise lives on for many more films to come.

The 2017 movie was completed by Joss Whedon after Synder’s exit, and was widely derided for its frivolous tone and disjointed narrative. With Synder back in the saddle, the film has been reworked with a new flow, added scenes and showier visual effects and action sequences. While some of the problems with the original material remain, a few of the risible portions have been snipped out.

Clocking a bottom-aching 242 minutes and comprising six chapters, the Synder Cut, as it is also known, is actually a mini-series masquerading as a single, very long movie. Zack Snyder’s Justice League has been released in the United States through HBO Max and is available in India on BookMyShow Stream.

In this version of rival Marvel Entertainment’s Avengers, six superheroes assemble to save Earth from an assault by an army of flying demons led by Darkseid (Ray Porter) and his chief enforcer Steppenwolf (Ciarin Hinds). Darkseid and Steppenwolf seek three magically endowed Mother Boxes which, when united, can lead to total world domination.

Batman (Ben Affleck), perhaps to compensate for his lack of superpowers, becomes the league’s chief recruiter, bringing together Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller) and, eventually, Superman (Henry Cavill) for an extended light-and-sound show.

Among the improvements over the previous film is the proper introduction given to each character and the removal of Batman’s decidedly creepy moves on Wonder Woman. Everybody is more business-like than before and focused on the task of hand. If they are unable to be wholly convincing as an oddball team that comes together for a common cause, blame it on a template designed to shock and awe and do little else.

Attempts to balance sentiment with razzmatazz haven’t gotten better the second time round. The dialogue remains strictly serviceable and the repartee is as awkward as before. Always better off slicing through the air and showing off their respective gadgetry than establishing human connections, these superheroes work best when they shut up and get to work.

Sliding into slow motion ever so often to allow us to feast our eyes on the technical wizardry, Zack Snyder’s Justice League takes its time to wrap up its single-line plot. This is the kind of production in which the epilogue itself lasts as long as one-third of a regular movie.

The earnestness with which Snyder attempts to elevate material based on comic books to an art form makes his movies hard to dismiss but equally grim and ponderous. In Justice League, he has four hours at his disposal, but not a minute to spare for genuine warmth or a moment or two in which the superheroes might be regarded as more than overachieving automatons.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021).