“Zack Snyder’s Justice League review” let’s begin with the story, which you may already know from the 2017 theatrical release. (That version of the movie was taken over by the director Joss Whedon, and fans have been calling for Snyder’s original to be restored.)
Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead, after the events of “Batman v Superman,” and an alien warrior named Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) has traveled to Earth to collect three Mother Boxes, sources of endless destructive (and regenerative) energy that, when combined into a “Unity,” can destroy a whole world. Batman (Ben Affleck) recruits all the supers he can find — Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and, later, a resurrected Superman — to stop the impending apocalypse.
The long run time allows the narrative room to stretch, for better or for worse.
For better: There’s an ambitious mythology at work, revealing the epic that Snyder had envisioned and restoring world-building details like how Wonder Woman discovers Steppenwolf’s plan, and the extent of Cyborg’s connection to the Mother Boxes. For worse: Snyder also plods through seemingly endless exposition, adding enough back story for each Justice League hero to strong-arm us into investing in these characters so we care when they finally put on the team jerseys and step out onto the court.
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is divided into six parts (for the six Justice League members, get it?) and an arduously long epilogue packed with enough teased story lines and both new and familiar faces (Deathstroke! The Martian Manhunter! Lex Luthor! The Joker!) to keep the franchise going until … well, the next end of the world.
The movie is laced with the notion: The first assault on Earth was stopped by a “Return of the King”-style union of humans, gods, Amazons and Atlanteans, so we know that teamwork is the only way to make the dream work, as it were. And the heroes figure out that the chaos only began when Superman died — his resurrection, they decide, is the best plan of action not just because of his power but because of the hope he represents.