Justice League FILM REVIEW
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay by Chris Terrio and Josh Whedon
Story by Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Henry Cavill
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Running Time: 2 hours
**1/2 out of *****
Photo: Warner Bros.
Members of the Justice League meet with Gotham City's Commissioner Gordon in the latest entry in the DC franchise of films.
After four films over the last four years the DC Extended Cinematic Universe has been moving towards this moment in cinematic history. From the moment it was announced that a cinematic universe was being launched, comic book fans have been clamoring to see the formation of the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. Aquaman. All together in one big movie. Just the thought of it should be enough to have fans' mouths watering. What a difference a few years and a few less than inspiring films make. The good-will and warmth that was WONDER WOMAN seemed to take a step towards brighter and better things but the new film suffers from the same problems which plagued BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and takes the franchise a step back in the wrong direction.
Going into the film one of the greatest concerns was that three of the heroes and its villain haven't received either a proper origin story or build up on film. The three new members of the League were literally shoe-horned into BATMAN V SUPERMAN in the clunkiest of introduction scenes and that was all that was ever seen of them until this film. Surprisingly even with the broadest strokes of character development and backstory the new heroes mostly make it out relatively unscathed...mostly. Ezra Miller's Barry Allen, aka The Flash, seemed to require the least amount of backstory as he is likely the most well known of the new heroes. Miller's take on the hero, who has appeared in other filmed incarnations, makes Allen a likable and quirky misfit. Of all the new characters his is the most relatable. Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, comes off as a lovable, muscle-bound, surfer dude. He is certainly far removed from the Aquaman of the seventies and considering he spends most of his time out of the water he is surprisingly useful. Ray Fisher's Victor Stone, aka Cyborg, suffers the most of the three. His origins should have provided the most gravitas but it is rather quickly brushed over and despite Fisher's acting through all the CGI and practical make up the transition isn't convincing. Of all the new characters his feels most like a plot contrivance as opposed to an integral part of the team. Finally, there is the film's villain Steppenwolf played by Ciarán Hinds, who comes off as nothing more than a pontificating super strong behemoth looking for his "mother" which is referring to the Mother Boxes.
Returning to the franchise are Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill; Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, respectively. Affleck was easily the best part of BATMAN v SUPERMAN and his take on the character in this film is unexpectedly humorous. Not only does he play up the "I'm too old for this shit" angle but also embraces the fact that amongst all these heroes he really has no powers. Gadot is as strong, honorable and forthright as she was in her standalone film. She is the team's den mother and in some cases therapist as she helps others cope with their inner demons. Now the elephant in the room is of course Superman. Will he return? The answer of course is yes but when, to what extent and how. Cavill is fine in his return as Superman it's just a shame that the events revolving around his return are far too quickly glossed over and rushed through that, much like his death, it has little emotional impact or resonance. Also returning are Diane Lane, Amy Adams and Jeremy Irons as Martha Kent, Lois Lane and Alfred Pennyworth. This time around their parts are minimal but its the whole Martha, Lois and Clark arc that is criminally under served.
Behind the scenes politics, maneuvering and tampering certainly cast a shadow over the film and often times it seems quite evident. However, regardless of what went on behind the scenes what is on screen is what ultimately matters and JUSTICE LEAGUE is very middle of the road. In what should have been an epic and iconic moment in cinematic history feels like fan service more interested in giving fans only what they want with little regard for character development or plot, which is pretty threadbare as is. The best moments of the film are slightly outweighed by the numerous story issues resulting in a fairly unbalanced film. The third act is easily the best and most consistently entertaining part of the film and ultimately saves the film from a lower critical rating than it had been given. With the exception of one film, the DC films, five so far, have been underwhelming which doesn't bode well for whatever shape and form the DC Cinematic Universe takes in the future.
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal