Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.
Justice League isn’t as bad as Suicide Squad, and if that’s all you need to hear to want to watch it, have at it. If you had high hopes that Wonder Woman set a new bar for quality earlier this year, and Justice League would follow, I’m sorry to say — no, it did not.
On the note of Wonder Woman, know this: if you have only seen Wonder Woman, you will have a confusing time keeping up with Justice League. The film assumes you’ve seen Batman V Superman and even to some degree, the Ultimate Cut edition. Who are these flying bug-like creatures we see early in the film? Answer: don’t you remember the BvS scene where Bruce is shown a dystopian future? Yeah, them. Who is this bad guy with a helmet that reminds you of the bad guy from Wonder Woman, but clearly isn’t? Should I know him? No, and yes. He was in a deleted BvS scene, talking to Luthor inside the Kryptonian ship, which is only included in the Ultimate Cut.
The first act of Justice League is all over the place. Wonder Woman spends a scene taking down bank-robbers who are revealed to be some part of an organisation that never comes back into the plot; Aquaman meets Batman and the king of the oceans litters in his own backyard with an empty can, which was offensive; Cyborg comes to grips with his newfound body by mumbling a lot; The Flash spends a scene setting up his own solo movie and all the while, Batman, or Bruce Wayne, slowly gathers up his team to take down the oncoming threat that is Steppenwolf.
Luckily after all that build up, it’s great when the League get together and show some good chemistry. However, Ezra Miller’s Flash and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman nearly carry this film on their back. They provide the most interesting takes on their DC Comics characters and they truly own their roles. This Barry Allen is nothing like the speedster you see on CW in their Flash TV series — he’s a loner and a bit of a weirdo, and he’s scared of fighting, but still has the heart to want to do good. This version of Aquaman, Arthur Curry, is a smart-ass surfer dude and he’s a lot of fun. DC has set up their long-haired muscle star this way from the start and hasn’t changed his character three films in. If Justice League leaves me with anything, it’s excitement for The Flash solo movie and super-excitement for the Aquaman film.
Cyborg wasn’t a complete waste, as I thought he was going to be judging from the trailers. His character does serve as a sort of deus ex machina, but he does have a story arc that makes sense and reaches a resolving point.
Wonder Woman is great, but not used as well as she was in her solo film. She kicks a lot of ass here, that’s for sure, and her fight scenes are the coolest of anyone’s, but the nuance to Diana is lost amongst the crowd. Some poor sexual chemistry written in between her and several characters just felt forced.
Batman was surprisingly the most disappointing and boring character in the film. Ben Affleck appears to be phoning in the role here compared to his efforts in BvS, and Batman himself doesn’t have much to do. When the fighting happens, he’s left looking useless, and as Bruce Wayne, his purposes ranged from gathering the team to supplying them with a nice heli-carrier to take them into battle.
Superman, when he does eventually make an appearance — which is no spoiler unless you have been living under a rock — is used very well. His presence in this movie is always felt, even just serving as Bruce’s catalyst to be a better hero. When Henry Cavill arrives on screen, however, he brings the boldness and gravitas of Superman entering the room, and yeah, for a lot of fans you finally get the Superman you’ve been after since Man of Steel. Cavill himself is great here, you just need to get past his odd-looking face at times where his moustache has been digitally removed.
Justice League ventures across many different backdrops and some are beautiful landscapes. Some are impressive visual spectacles and others — well, they are obviously shot on a green screen backdrop. The re-shoots haven’t helped with the total production of the film either. If there is one thing director Zack Snyder has, it’s his own style. A combination of re-shoots by Joss Whedon and possibly studio interference has left Justice League feeling like a mix-and-match of styles, colours, scripts, ideas and personality.
Of the worst CGI is the film’s villain, Steppenwolf. The CGI villain portrayed by the wasted Ciaran Hinds is produced to a level of quality that I would expect on the CW’s DC TV shows, not for a high budget movie. Luckily, Steppenwolf is a boring stepping-ladder villain on the way to the Justice League‘s true bad guy, Darkseid, who serves up just enough world-ending plot to have the Justice League form.
Danny Elfman took over the score reins from Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer from BvS, and it’s passably boring. His takes on the characters’ themes are definitely more mellow and overall his score never offers anything as either Man of Steel or BvS did. However, the Elfman sound does match better with this mismatched affair of a film.
As a DC fan, this film did do a lot to please me. The final 15 to 20 minutes made me very happy and nearly made me shed a tear simply from the imagery I was seeing. Justice League also gave me two other moments of sheer joy. So for DC fans, there are experiences to be had here.