Film Review: Justice League
Batman plus Wonder Woman plus the Flash plus Cyborg plus Aquaman plus - oh, is that it? - fight fight fight to save the world, which needs saving... again... but can they save us from more bad filmmaking in the DC Universe?
Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) try to assemble The Flash (Ezra Miller
), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to form the Justice League because the world is falling into chaos without the lightness and moderating influence of Superman, who is dead, and they've had weird encounters (Batman) and fire beacons from Themyscira (Wonder Woman) to tell them that something is coming
The Flash is, like, "Yeah!"; Aquaman is, like, "Ugh."; Cyborg is, like, "Nope.".
Meanwhile everyone is moping about Superman (Henry Cavill), who is still dead but cleverly appears in the movie's first scene as a flashback to explain why Henry Cavill is listed in the film's credits (besides the obvious reason).
Eventually all the heroes do come to the party because Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) returns from wherever via a boom tube (wormhole) and starts decimating everything with the help of his Parademons as he searches for three Mother Boxes (boxes full of some sort of universal power and/or technology that, when combined, are even more ultimate power and/or technology). Thousands of years previously, after Steppenwolf had been defeated during his last visit to Earth, which he had tried to conquer, the boxes were given to the Amazons, the Atlanteans, and the humans to hide and safeguard. Now he's coming for them.
That's the plot of Justice League
, which finally sees a (bigger) group of DC Comics heavyweights together in one movie. This, therefore, requires a suitable enemy to counterbalance the combined forces of the Justice League team members and outdo Doomsday, who killed Superman, who continues to be dead. Apparently Steppenwolf is it. There's just one problem - he's boring.
Superhero movies have finally moved on - well, some of them. I'll note the recent ones I appreciated and enjoyed: Thor: Ragnorak
had someone unknown and unexpected but closely tied with the main characters show up with the intention of destroying them, while undoing everything positive they'd tried to build, with the unintended consequence that their perception of their history and divinely good purpose is shattered (plus extra climactic plot spoiler I won't mention because the film is still on circuit). Spider-Man: Homecoming
had a punched-down working-class everyman whose primary motivation was to provide for his family and look after his employees but in the process he became corrupted by his access to alien technology and the special abilities it afforded him to screw over "the man".
Justice League has an(other) uninteresting, "immortal", egomaniac with troops running around looking for power objects and a climactic battle scene that is visually very similar to the one from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Although this movie is better than some of the DC Universe's predecessors it still feels as if it's leagues (LOL!) behind the Marvel movies. What's better here is the humour, which has Joss Whedon's fingerprints all over it, although most of it is assigned to The Flash, sadly turning him into an awkward social misfit. The movie is also less dark, visually, and less over saturated with terrible colour grading than the previous movies.
Unfortunately, counter balancing these positive improvements is lightweight storytelling with no depth and no skill, leaving a strong cast (bar a wooden Affleck) with nothing to work with; a score, by Danny Elfman, who usually creates very unique and prominent soundscapes, that is never noteworthy and is utterly forgettable; attempts to set a special-effects "wow" factor for The Flash that falls far short of both of the standout scenes that showcased Marvel's Quicksilver at his best; plus some awful character and costume designs that we are now going to be stuck with indefinitely.
Cyborg looks like someone Frankenplonked a black man's head onto a Terminator prototype that was rejected for being emaciated. This is especially unfortunate because Ray Fisher does a great job of portraying Victor Stone's internal conflicts surrounding who - or what - he is becoming. The Flash looks like he wants to be Marvel's
Iron Man so much that he sewed his own suit as an homage, plus his awkward shtick, played for laughs, is an annoying interpretation of the character - I much prefer the television or Injustice 2
versions. Aquaman is ridiculously heavy metal and ornery and looks more suited to ruling an underground mountain kingdom or a biker gang than the oceans. The Batsuit looks like someone poured Ben Affleck into a latex mould.
Meanwhile the historic Amazons are running around in leather bikinis
(although not all the actors
minded) in an era in which human males are wearing full-body armour, and which is set after the era that inspired the very detailed, very well researched
, and very respectful leather and metal versions seen in Wonder Woman
. To round it off, there are also a few male-gaze camera moments that offer brief Wonder Woman butt shots.
There is one beautiful, emotional, action scene, however, but I can't discuss it in detail as it's a huge plot spoiler. It occurs in the middle of the movie - yes, as with Wonder Woman
, the most emotionally driven scene is, again, a midway action sequence that's not the climactic final battle against the villain - and serves to remind us that no matter how strong the Justice League members seem to be and, therefore, how much stronger they will be as a team, they really are still outclassed and in danger.
It's a reminder of how much they actually need Superman and how much more powerful he was than the rest of them, which you forget because Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice
diluted our sense of Superman's power by making Batman and Superman appear to be equals, with a climactic Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman fight against Doomsday that resulted in Superman's death, while the other two lived.
I loved this scene in Justice League
. It really, finally, shows us how important Superman is and it offers some wonderful filmmaking and storytelling moments - and pauses - and some terrific acting. However, as with the Themyscira arc at the beginning of Wonder Woman
, which were the only scenes I really enjoyed in that movie, it's not enough for Justice League
, although it embodies what Justice League could
have been and, perhaps, should
Justice League was written by Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joss Whedon, (screenplay), Chris Terrio (story), and Zack Snyder (story), was directed by Zack Snyder, and stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, and Amber Heard.
The press screening was courtesy of Times Media Films.
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