‘Army of the Dead’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What do you get when you combine Zack Snyder, zombies and a heist? You get one of the most entertaining films of the year! If you are a Snyder fan, this one sure caters to the fanbase. You are in for a fun ride through a zombie wasteland in Las Vegas. It is larger than life, loud and action-packed with stunning visuals, courtesy of the man himself. Snyder knows how to create tension quite effortlessly, and more importantly, he knows how to mix in a wicked soundtrack that juxtaposes certain scenes. From the very beginning, as Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ plays, while newlyweds are on a joyride, the lyrics, ‘we’re caught in a trap, we can’t walk out…’ sets the tone for the entire film.

We get a typical Snyder opening credit sequence detailing what happened to the Las Vegas strip, while a slow version of ‘Viva Las Vegas’ plays out. It is one of his strongest opening title sequences, and I won’t lie, I had a gigantic smile on my face. At the start of any Snyder movie, we all think to ourselves, ‘What does he have in store for us this time?” and majority of the time he exceeds expectations. Snyder went back to his zombie roots with this film. It wasn’t that gory, or overstuffed with kills, it just flowed really well. It didn’t rely on the zombie conventions, that we are used to because that part was sidelined. This was a heist film straight through and it had great balance combining both genres.

This film wouldn’t have been as entertaining without its cast of characters. First and foremost, Dave Bautista needs to be recognized as the lead in this film. Bautista has been sidelined for majority of his film career and hasn’t been taken seriously as an actor (until Blade Runner 2049), Snyder put him at the forefront and he carried the film quite well. His character Scott had to endure some traumatic moments when the zombies tore up his town and has been trying to reconcile with his daughter. Bautista nailed the emotional moments and left me impressed. The other standouts were Marianne (Tig Notaro), Vanderhoe (Omari Hardwick), Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) and Lily (Nora Arnezeder), they each had their time to shine and brought so much to their characters.

Army of the Dead is filled with great action sequences, fun character banter, and plenty of zombies. The film did suffer at the end because even though the runtime went a bit long, the ending still felt rushed. Did I enjoy the ending? No. It left such a bitter taste in my mouth. But don’t worry, there is another ending, that will also leave you questioning what the point was. At the end, it was all about the journey and it sure was a wild ride. I can’t forget to mention the Junkie XL score because he keeps putting out such great pieces to accompany action scenes. If you love Snyder, you’ll set aside the small issues with the film and enjoy the zombie spectacle for two hours and twenty-eight minutes.

‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

After following the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement since the beginning, no viewing experience has felt as satisfying as this one. After years of fighting, for the version of a film that meant so much to so many people and campaigning on behalf of our director, we finally have the Justice League as it was fully intended. This film is everything that we all hoped it would be. As a fan, and as a critic, Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be considered a monumental film because of the movement surrounding it and it is an emotional watch for those who are closely associated to it.

When you watch a Zack Snyder film, you automatically know what you are getting yourself into. From the opening sequence of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you could feel that this was HIS film. We all know that Snyder is very meticulous when it comes to accurately depicting the source material and elevating the story through his own ideas. When Snyder gave us Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition), they both had a similar tone. The tone is carried out in this film but there is a much more emotional element that is tied to these characters.

Courtesy of The Stone Quarry

At the very beginning of this film, we feel immense loss, as Snyder picked up right after the events of Batman v. Superman. Almost instantly, we are taken back to the emotions we all felt when watching that for the first time. It sets the tone for the whole film.

Will Superman return?

How will the Son of Krypton rise again?

The film is broken into several parts. There is so much backstory that is attached to each of these characters – especially Cyborg (Ray Fisher) – that we get to see. For a four-hour film, the pacing of it did not seem to drag at all, it doesn’t feel like it is being stretched out to fill the runtime.

Snyder begins this journey with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as he attempts to assemble these metahumans to form the team. It is time to actually face the fact, that Ben Affleck, is a fantastic Batman. It’s always difficult to balance Bruce Wayne/Batman but Snyder and Affleck are a perfect duo to give us a very memorable portrayal. It also sets up the pacing of the story quite well, as we see Bruce on his own mission to find Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) in order to defend Earth from a possible threat.

Courtesy of The Stone Quarry

Snyder then takes us back to Themyscira, as the Amazons guard the mother box from an incoming threat. What is so incredible about this entire sequence is the power Snyder pulls out from the Amazons. It is incredible to see how these women have been developed. Whether it be their power stance, their fighting words, or their badass armour, all you see is their strength shining through. There are moments with Queen Hippolyta that will make you incredibly emotional because of our attachment to Themyscira, courtesy of Patty Jenkins in Wonder Woman (2017). We see more development of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg. Snyder’s storytelling allows you to understand them on a human level first, and then show what they’re capable of. He really knows how to balance the two in order to make an emotional impact, in such a short time.

Snyder does focus on the emotional connection to Superman through the eyes of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) by showing how they have been processing their grief. Because of Lois and Martha, we understand how tragic this loss is for them vs. the world losing him. Again, Snyder brings it to a very human level of processing grief, instead of keeping Superman as a global figure. The humanity that is shown, creates an intimacy with Clark as a well-rounded human being and proves that he is more than just the symbol. This is where his character development comes full circle and he isn’t even on screen.

Courtesy of The Stone Quarry

Snyder then puts more focus on a character that is considered the heart of the team and when you watch this film, you will understand why. We all know what Cyborg is capable of, but seeing it, the way Snyder wanted him to be presented in a live-action format was something else entirely. Snyder dives into the center of Cyborg and how he is structured as a machine. While he shows us this, we see Stone’s trauma and humanity through his emotional backstory. That is why he’s the heart of the league. Stone is trying to live again, he is trying to find his purpose to feel human again. He is the piece of the jigsaw puzzle, connecting the league in order to stop the incoming threat.

Courtesy of The Stone Quarry

The incoming threat in question? Spikey Steppenwolf, Dasaad and Darkseid, were all crafted so well. The special effects in Zack Snyder’s Justice League was fantastic. During the entire history lesson, which is narrated by Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), I was in awe. It was so detailed and what worked so well is that they explained the mother boxes in detail. So for those who don’t know much about them, they will understand what could possibly happen. There are plenty of surprises in the history lesson and when you see Darkseid in action, you are going to want to see more of him in future films.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is everything and more. How Snyder managed to exceed our expectations in making a massive comic book film with legendary characters is beyond me. Everything you loved about his first two instalments of the unofficial Superman trilogy is combined and expanded upon in this film. Not only does Snyder know Superman extremely well, he brings out the best characterizations from every member. You can tell that he put his heart and soul in this film. For those who have been with the movement since day one, or to the naysayers who are starting to get excited, this movie will leave you wanting more of the world that he has created.

The Snyder Cut Journey & What We Can Expect

Since 2015, the road for Zack Snyder and DCEU fans has been a rocky one. The one moment in Hall H, when the Batman v Superman trailer came on and everyone went nuts, was the moment that changed the hype level for this franchise. However, after the release of the film, things took a turn for the worse.

The criticism for Batman v Superman hit the fan base hard and for many years, they had to defend Zack Snyder and his film. 4 years later the film is still very much divisive and constantly raises a negative discourse online. After Warner Brothers took the damage from Batman v Supermantheir next film, Suicide Squad, also faced harsh criticism online from everyone. The DCEU franchise has not had a very easy entry into the world of comic book films but the fans still had faith in Zack Snyder to deliver with Justice League.

PRE JUSTICE LEAGUE RELEASE

As they were filming Justice League, Zack Snyder would post updates on his Vero account, with storyboards, still pictures and behind the scene photos. In March 2017, it was reported by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ that Zack and Deborah Snyder experienced a tragedy in their family, as their daughter, Autumn passed away from a suicide. It was rumoured, that Zack wanted to finish Justice League and asked Warner Brothers to postpone filming, but they refused and hired Joss Whedon to finish the film. Zack Snyder stepped down from his own film, to be with his family, as his work was slowly chopped up and left on the cutting room floor.

Joss Whedon stepped in and only used 10% of the Zack Snyder’s footage, which was already completed. The rest of the film was reworked and rewritten to fit Whedon’s vision of Justice League, which was released under Zack Snyder’s name for the final result. Joss Whedon had removed the heart of the Justice League, in his rewrite, as Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, was cast aside and given a much smaller role, as was intended. Whedon added a Russian family in the third act, which was apparently more important than the team development.

POST JUSTICE LEAGUE RELEASE

Fans could tell the difference from the very first Justice League trailer, which was all Zack Snyder’s footage, versus Joss Whedon’s version. The lighting was off, the atmosphere felt different, the humour was not the dark sarcasm, we were accustomed to in Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. It was a completely different film.

“Sources say “Justice League” reshoots have been used to punch up the dialogue. Whedon, the director of “The Avengers,” is well respected for his ability to create memorably wry exchanges between his characters.” – Justin Kroll, Brett Lang for Variety

The fans were skeptical with Joss Whedon’s vision because Zack Snyder’s vision, for the DCEU, was extremely different, than what the MCU had to offer and that was never seen as a bad thing. Whedon’s choices were very interesting and did not really capture the same essence that Zack Snyder had already put in place, in the previous two instalments of his Superman story arc. Majority of the final product felt forced and extremely rushed, leaving Warner Brothers with another bust at the box office. Justice League earned $228 million domestic and $656 million worldwide, as reported by Forbes’ it cost Warner Brothers more money to make it, than  it brought in.

This collage shows the differences from Zack Snyder’s film versus Joss Whedon’s reshoots.

ZSJL reshoots

Source: @Deven_Wagner on Twitter

 

The social platform ‘Vero’ is something Zack Snyder used throughout his journey on Justice League. In the early stages when Warner Brothers asked him to cut down his runtime.

ZSJL early vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

As Zack Snyder continued answering fan questions on his Vero people began to question what actually happened with Warner Brothers and Justice League. Zack did not watch Joss Whedon’s film, he stayed away from everything after he was forced to give up his film.

Exhibit A: Fans Asking Questions About Joss Whedon’s Cut of Justice League 

ZSJL 2 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Exhibit B: Zack Snyder Posting His Scene of Cyborg and His Family 

ZSJL 4 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Exhibit C: A Photo of Uxas Which Was NOT Used in Whedon’s Cut 

ZSJL 3 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

 

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut Movement 

On January 7th, the attention for #ReleaseTheSnyderCut gained a new momentum. Fans of the Snyder Cut stood outside the Warner Brothers Headquarters with a #ReleaseTheSnyderCut sign, showing them that fans do care about Zack Snyder’s full vision.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 2.31.58 PM

Source @BatmanNewsCom on Twitter

After this, the movement became stronger and fans of Zack Snyder continued to press on social media that his cut existed and was, in fact, real. There were multiple sources confirming and reassuring all of us that there was a cut and it would come out in due time. The hashtag went viral and the fans kept pushing for 4 years. It wasn’t until Zack Snyder posted this image on his Vero that fans really pushed the envelope on the movement.

ZSJL 1 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Zack Snyder showed fans the film reels of his original 214 minute cut that he has kept with him. It is real and it does exist. During all of this, there was also merchandise that was sold through Ink To The People that fans purchased to support the Snyder Cut and all proceeds went to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The fans were so incredibly dedicated to making sure that Zack Snyder’s full vision would be seen in whatever form because of the poor circumstances that caused him to step back. The fans believed that it was mishandled and that he deserved justice.

On the March 27th, 2020, the 4th Anniversary of the often divisive Batman v Superman, Zack hosted a watch party on Vero and that night, something very unexpected happened. It was the day that united the whole cast of Justice League, which made for a very emotional evening. Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck all used the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag on their social platforms.

Ben RTSCGal RTSCJason rtscRay RTSC

Shortly after, the hashtag grew stronger and continued to be the Number 1 trending topic for a couple of days. Fans continued to push and they started questioning when the official drop would be. The rumours began to swirl, claiming that Zack was going to strike a deal with HBO Max. Zack then wanted to host a Man of Steel watch party to restore some hope in the world.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 3.40.36 PM

Many people tuned in because there was a rumoured surprise at the end of the watch party. People claimed that Zack had some information on the Snyder Cut that he would share with us. He shared his storyboards and gave running commentary about the details he used in Man of Steel and then his wife, and executive producer Deborah Snyder, came and joined the party. After the film was over, Zack invited fans to ask questions on his Vero but what they did not expect, was Superman himself making an appearance. Henry Cavill showed up in his famous blue tank top and helped Zack Snyder reveal the official HBO Max poster for Zack Snyder’s Justice League’. There is no set date but it will be coming out in 2021.

JL official

Source: Warner Brothers and HBO Max

Love Letter To DCEU Fans

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Teaser Trailer 

 

JUSTICE CON & DC FANDOME 

Justice Con is a fanmade event, created by three, very dedicated women on Twitter and YouTube, @TheNerdQueens and @ya_girlmeg/Wonder Meg on both platforms.

Justice-Con-Logo-Featured

The con was a complete success and it was filled with so much positivity during those 2 days! Ray Fisher had his own panel and discussed Cyborg’s arc in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, he also addressed the alleged toxicity on set, with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair. Towards the end of his panel, Zack Snyder jumped in and the views skyrocketed. Fans loved seeing Zack and Ray interact on the livestream!

Right after, Zack Snyder had his panel and taught the fans about aspect ratios because he is using a different aspect ratio for the Snyder Cut. Zack also revealed a new t-shirt in honour of his daughter Autumn and his dedicated fanbase.

zs ap

It will be released over at Ink To The People and all proceeds will go to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Zack didn’t stop there, he gave us a short, 20 second clip of something fans have been waiting for. This little teaser got everyone excited for what we could expect at DC Fandome!

You can expect a darker version of Justice League with Victor Stone at the center of the story. Zack Snyder always intended to have Cyborg as the heart of Justice League and there are plenty of more scenes with him at the forefront. There are possible Martian Manhunter scenes, more of J.K. Simmons Commissioner Gordon, a first look at Ryan Choi (Atom) working in Star Labs with Silas Stone and a possible Green Lantern cameo!

What we do know is that we are getting a full Zack Snyder’s Justice League trailer on August 22nd. So get your accounts ready, go schedule your panels and get ready to enter…. the SNYDERVERSE!