Zack Snyder’s Justice League UHD Digital Review

3 Stars Now with extras (sort of)
Zack Snyder's Justice League Review

Zack Snyder’s Justice League finally makes its way to digital ownership with a transfer that comes very close to its physical media counterpart. Special Features are another story…

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
Released: 18 Mar 2021
Rated: R
Runtime: 242 min
Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot
Writer(s): Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Zack Snyder
Plot: Determined to ensure Superman's ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne aligns forces with Diana Prince with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions.
IMDB rating: 8.1
MetaScore: 54

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: Not Listed
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: R
Run Time: 4 Hr. 2 Min.
Package Includes: Digital Copy
Case Type: N/A
Disc Type: Other
Region: A
Release Date: 07/19/2022
MSRP: $14.99

The Production: 4/5

Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death has triggered three Mother Boxes on Earth to send out a signal calling Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) back to the planet along with a team of Parademons. Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) team up and recruit others with abilities, including The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). After their first encounter with Steppenwolf, they realize their going to need some more help. Having the third Mother Box in their possession, they attempt to resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) as a last resort.

In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the plot is very similar to the maligned and often confusing 2017 theatrical cut. And for the most part, you would be correct. Except that director Zack Snyder, who left during post production due to his daughter’s suicide (although some have speculated that event was the straw that broke the camel’s back after lots of studio interference demanding a 2-hour run time, was allowed to return to the film three years later to complete the film closer to his initial vision after a rather successful social media campaign by fans (#ReleaseTheSnyderCut). This could have easily been fan service that also worked as a marketing ploy by Warner Media’s HBO Max to lure more subscribers, as the finished film has been an exclusive since it debuted on the service on March 18, 2021. For the last 5-6 months, that is what I thought, but was still curious to see what Snyder had up his sleeve. The movie still has problems, in that it still feels like a reverse-engineered Avengers, but the story no longer feels rushed, and all of Joss Whedon’s additions (including the Russian family subplot) have been removed, for better or worse. The introductions of Aquaman, The Flash, and in particular Cyborg have been expanded extensively (in fact, Cyborg has a much larger role and character arc in the film than in the 2017 version). Steppenwolf also is not acting alone in his plot to destroy Earth, as we find his driving force is to me accepted once again by both Darkseid (Ray Porter) and DeSaad (Peter Guiness), two characters completely missing from 2017.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a completely different movie experience, with a more fully realized version of Steppenwolf capable of emotions and much more menacing, the action is bloodier (without getting overly gory), and visually less colorful (colors are so muted that the film almost appears to be black and white). There are a few things that don’t work, though. While the pacing is less chaotic than the 2017 theatrical, there are some moments where the film drags, the most notable being the Joker sequence (with Jared Leto reprising his Suicide Squad role) during the Epilogue that brings the film to a screeching halt. I understand Snyder’s intention behind using the 1.33:1 aspect ratio for IMAX presentations of the film to give it a broader epic scale, but it works against him in a home environment, giving us a much smaller image to view.

The four hour running time may be off-putting to some, but Snyder has framed this epic tale more like a limited series, breaking the film up into seven parts, each running 30-40 minutes in length and ending in a cliffhanger, making it easier to digest in short segments.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Zack Snyder’s Justice League was shot mostly on 35mm film on Arriflex and Arricam cameras with some reshoots in 8K digital resolution on Red Monstro cameras, then completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Vision HDR for its intended premium theatrical engagements and streaming on HBO Max. I sampled the film on Apple TV (on both Apple TV 4K and Roku devices), Movies Anywhere and Vudu (both on Roku devices) – all three services offer the film in 4K Dolby Vision. It is the use of Dolby Vision that is the main advantage of this streaming version over the 4K UHD Blu-ray release (which only used HDR10). Colors and highlights have a bit more “pop” to them here than they do on the UHD Blu-ray while still not altering the overall muted color scheme. Detail is exquisite, too, particularly on costumes, facial features, and backgrounds. In a direct A-B comparison with the 4K UHD Blu-ray, the digital is very slightly softer, but most viewers will likely not be able to see a difference.

Audio: 4.5/5

Movies Anywhere, Vudu and iTunes/Apple TV offer a Dolby Atmos track that is close to reference-quality, but lacks the real sonic punch of the Dolby Atmos track found on Warner’s physical media release late last year. This is still an immersive track, with heights used to enhance flyovers by the Parademons, rainfall, Thomas Holkenborg’s (aka Junkie XL) score, etc. and extending to the rear surrounds. LFE is used to accentuate explosions, adding a nice low-end overall to the film, but the physical media Atmos track has more oomph. Dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout, well-prioritized and never getting lost in the mix of effects and music. All other Movies Anywhere retailers provide a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track.

Special Features: 2.5/5

Many fans of this film were rather excited about the announced special features that were to accompany this digital release. Unfortunately, many retailers, including Movies Anywhere and Vudu, did not have these available on the day of release. Movies Anywhere added the special features nearly one week later, Vudu nearly two weeks later.

Building a Scene (1080p; 6:00): A thrilling look at how the film’s most incredible scenes were brought to life. Available on Apple TV (only accessible on iOS devices), Vudu and Movies Anywhere apps.

Road to Justice League (1080p; 24:40): An interesting look at Snyder’s DC trilogy (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Justice League), which also thanks fans for their campaign to make this version possible. Available on Apple TV (only accessible on iOS devices), Vudu and Movies Anywhere apps.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray (1080p; 242:03): Director Zack Snyder’s black and white rendition of the movie. Available on Apple TV (in HD with Dolby Vision and 5.1 audio, only accessible on iOS devices), Vudu and Movies Anywhere (in HD and 5.1 audio). Even more frustrating, this version was available as a special feature on Prime Video on the day of release, but was later removed the following day.

Overall: 3/5

Zack Snyder’s Justice League really surprised me, as I went in with low expectations, expecting something to be indulgent and strictly fan service. While it is not completely innocent of those qualities, it is a vast improvement over the 2017 theatrical release (ghost-directed and written by Joss Whedon). Unfortunately, this digital release was rather frustrating, as the announced special features are not available on most retailers, with Apple TV apparently the only retailer that has all three available on the day of release, but requires an iOS device to view them on the Apple TV app since special features are not accessible on the same app running on non-iOS devices such as Roku or FireStick. Movies Anywhere managed to add the special features five days later. As of July 26, 2022, the special features are still MIA on Vudu and Prime Video.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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Tino

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iTunes is always the best option for purchasing digital content as it offers the most extras. Amazon is the worst. Imo. I’ll pick this up as soon as it hits $4.99.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Presumably, "iOS devices only" includes the various versions of ATV running tvOS, not just literally iOS only, correct? That's generally the case w/ iTunes/ATV extras. And macOS (not that I have any Macs myself though)?

Wonder why they didn't include the Justice is Gray in 4K instead of just 1080p? It's 4K on HBO Max... though I never got around to watching it. This would probably be a bit more enticing if that was included in 4K too. Maybe they'll later release that in 4K too as a separate digital offering?

Hmmm... is there some particular reason this review thread is tagged for Vudu, especially considering it's a Movies Anywhere eligible title and all the extras are only available via iTunes/ATV (so far)? The review doesn't indicate Vudu was the primary version used for PQ/AQ assessment either.

_Man_
 
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dpippel

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Wonder why they didn't include the Justice is Gray in 4K instead of just 1080p? It's 4K on HBO Max... though I never got around to watching it. This would probably be a bit more enticing if that was included in 4K too. Maybe they'll later release that in 4K too as a separate digital offering?
I was under the impression that the initial release was already gray. ;)

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Todd Erwin

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Presumably, "iOS devices only" includes the various versions of ATV running tvOS, not just literally iOS only, correct? That's generally the case w/ iTunes/ATV extras. And macOS (not that I have any Macs myself though)?
I am referring to Apple TV, iPhones, iPads, plus MacBooks etc. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can AirPlay the special features from the Apple TV app to a Roku device, but the Apple TV app on Roku does not allow access to special features.

As for tagging as VUDU, that was one of only a few options I had, and have requested an admin add a Digital Review tag.
 

Todd Erwin

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Oh, and Amazon did have the Justice is Grey version attached to the film yesterday (7/19), but as of today, they removed it. No idea as to why.
 
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dpippel

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Not if you simply buy the iTunes version. ;)
Not everyone is invested in Apple's ecosystem (although I am), and I'm talking about digital retailers in general. There's so much variability in what's offered by whom and when that it's almost ridiculous. This industry is laughable in many ways. Sometimes I regret that I love movies so much. ;)
 

Todd Erwin

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Updated my review today, as Movies Anywhere now includes the special features that were advertised in the studio's press release. I did not update my score, though, as these should have been included on the date of release. Maybe those bots could start a hashtag campaign with those services that did not include the special features - #ReleaseTheSnyderCutExtras. :laugh:
 

Todd Erwin

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Review updated again to reflect that Vudu finally added the three special features, which are still MIA on Prime Video.
 

Todd Erwin

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Hmmm... is there some particular reason this review thread is tagged for Vudu, especially considering it's a Movies Anywhere eligible title and all the extras are only available via iTunes/ATV (so far)? The review doesn't indicate Vudu was the primary version used for PQ/AQ assessment either.
Fixed.
 

Todd Erwin

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Amazon's "official" response regarding the removal of the Justice is Gray feature 24 hours after release date on Prime Video:

Hello Todd,

I wanted to let you know that I've received a response from our technical team. Our technical team was unable to correct the issue you described. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience.

They provided the following information:

When checked on LG, initially partner has delivered the incorrect 8hrs of content which does not have rights for US marketplace so again partner delivered the correct 4hrs of content that's why there is a difference in run time and we have educated the partners regarding this. We have no rights for 8hrs of dutch content in US marketplace.

Thanks for your patience while we researched this.

Best regards,
Misty
Amazon.com
"dutch content"? Whatever...
 
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David Deeb

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4K on sale now for $7.99. Best price.

Why do I feel compelled to buy it now, yet I had HBO Max for over a year and never rewatched it!

Now that I cancelled HBO Max for a while, I feel I should buy it. What is it about collecting films that brings out such compulsive behavior!!!!
 

ManW_TheUncool

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4K on sale now for $7.99. Best price.

Why do I feel compelled to buy it now, yet I had HBO Max for over a year and never rewatched it!

Now that I cancelled HBO Max for a while, I feel I should buy it. What is it about collecting films that brings out such compulsive behavior!!!!

Yep. At least just wait til it probably, eventually drop to $5, hehheh -- it's not a Marvel CU flick afterall... ;):D

_Man_
 
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