“Justice League,” dir. Zack Snyder
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. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes – Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash – it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
“Justice League” is now the fifth film in Warner Brothers’ DCEU which up to this point has only been able to deliver a film that got acclaim across the board from audiences and critics alike until “Wonder Woman” earlier this summer. Before then, while there are definitely die-hard defenders of these films out there, people were mixed on their first three films with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” getting more disdain. Personally speaking, “Wonder Woman” and “Man of Steel” were the only ones that worked while “Suicide Squad” and especially “Batman v Superman” were unfathomable disasters. So going into this film, my expectations were more muted, but there was enough reason to remain hopeful as the studio was starting to go in the right direction just earlier this year. Unfortunately, “Justice League” falls somewhere in the middle of the studio’s hits and their failures.
Let’s start with the members of the League themselves. All of the actors have strong chemistry with each other, adding a lot to the smaller moments where they’re just interacting with one another. That being said, the rapid pace of the film doesn’t give them enough of a chance to fully develop the bond between these characters. So while at times it can be fun to watch, these moments get cut way too quickly so that we can get to the next scene. If there had just been a few more moments sprinkled throughout to let the audience breathe and watch these characters interact, it would have made a big difference.
Ben Affleck was one of the few standouts in “Batman v Superman,” delivering a strong, intimidating presence to Batman. However here, it felt like there was a struggle to find a place for him to function within the narrative beyond bringing the League together. On top of that, Affleck’s performance doesn’t appear to be as committed as before which is disappointing.
After knocking it out of the park with her solo film, Gal Gadot continues to shine as Wonder Woman. Originally, it was worrying that someone who wasn’t primarily an actress was cast as this iconic character, but she has proven that she owns it. She brings a lot of charm and heart to this role, delivering in spades for both the smaller moments and the major set pieces.
Out of every character in “Justice League,” the Flash is by far the standout. Ezra Miller has fantastic comedic timing and irresistible charisma. He has several of the most memorable and entertaining action beats in the entire movie and it’s safe to say that his solo movie is now the one I’m excited to see in the future of the DCEU.
It’s obvious that Jason Momoa was having a blast in the role of Aquaman, which undoubtedly adds a lot to the enjoyment of watching him on screen. That being said, it’s also clear that there was too much of an attempt to try to make Aquaman a cool character which as a result works against him. It’ll be interesting to see what Warner Brothers does with him in the future, but they need to learn to trust that the audience will have fun with him without constantly trying to forcing it.
Cyborg had what seemed to be a compelling arc as soon as he first appeared on screen but as the film went on, his character unfortunately started to become less engaging. That’s no fault of Ray Fisher who actually gives a strong performance in his first major film role, but the themes of dealing with who he really is quickly take a back seat once the action starts to kick in. It doesn’t help that the CGI on him stands out like a sore thumb, which leads to a much bigger issue with this movie.
Warner Brothers were put into a difficult situation when director Zack Snyder had to step away from the project due to a family tragedy. As a result, Joss Whedon was brought in after he had already done some rewrites for scheduled reshoots to oversee the rest of the production. In the end, it’s clear that they needed more time to work on the visual effects. The vast majority of the CGI is badly done, ruining many of the big action sequences in the movie. Warner Brothers should have simply pushed back the release date as it shouldn’t have gotten in the way of delivering a better presented film.
To make matters worse, with a 2 hour runtime, the pacing of the film is unbelievably rushed. Right from the rocky start, the film keeps jumping from scene to scene at such a fast pace, there’s never a moment absorb anything that the audience just saw. This is supposed to be the main event, seeing some of DC’s most popular superheroes together on the big screen for the first time. It’s underwhelming that as an audience member, I wasn’t able to take it in and enjoy the experience.
The villain of the film, Steppenwolf, makes matters worse by being a total bore. He never feels like a major threat against the League and Ciarán Hinds gives a lifeless performance. It never gets quite as bad as Jesse Eisenberg’s horrendous portrayal of Lex Luthor, but considering Warner Brothers and DC have such a large catalog of rich antagonists that could have been used here, it’s depressing that they went for one so terrible.
In summation, I’m disappointed to say that “Justice League” is a mess. DC showed such promise with “Wonder Woman” that they were on their way to bring stronger films to compliment their characters, but they rushed their big team up. The heroes themselves mostly deliver on their larger than life personalities, but this story does them a major disservice, not offering enough opportunities to bring something truly special to the table. In a year where every single superhero movie delivered, it’s a bummer that arguably the biggest one couldn’t do the same.
Have you gotten a chance to see “Justice League?” Will you be catching it this weekend? Did you like all of the previous films in the DCEU? Leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts.
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