Dir. Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams
It’s a bit of a mess. There’s no getting around that fact. It reportedly cost $300 million dollars, had extensive reshoots, two different directors, and, following a poor response for Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice, a huge amount of course correction. The fact that it kind of works is probably the best compliment I can give it.
After the events of BVS:DOJ, and the death of Superman, Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne senses a coming threat and decides to unite a team of Superheroes. This team includes Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Ezra Miller’s The Flash/Barry Allen, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman/Arthur Curry, and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg/Victor Stone. If that list of characters seems long, that’s because it is, and the film feels like it has 4 different openings, and we are introduced to all of the Superheroes and their alter-egos. The coming danger soon reveals itself to be Steppenwolf, a new god, who is hell bent on uniting 3 motherboxes. Three boxes which when united will turn the world into a living hell. These three boxes have been entrusted with Woner Woman’s Amazons, Aquaman’s Atlantians, and humans.
Saying anything more may be seen as a spoiler, so I’ll try to sum up what I thought worked in the movie. The best parts about Justice League are when it’s just the main characters being themselves and interacting with each other. Gal Gadot again proves her worth as Wonder Woman, a real shining light in the darkness which has been the DC movie universe. Both Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller make strong impressions as Aquaman and The Flash, riffing off each other and their other team mates, and providing moments of levity which has been missing is this universe. The film is also pretty short for a superhero movie, clocking in at just 2 hours, it never feels like it drags. The change of tone from BVS is welcome, it works with the new characters, but I feel it was a mistake with Ben Afflecks Batman, who doesn’t feel as strong here as he did in BVS. The change of tone also refers to the colour palette, which makes his costume look pretty awful.
There is a lot in this movie. Packed into the two hour run time we have the introduction of three new heroes, including the introduction of a whole new underwater world, there classic character cameos, such as Commisioner Gordon, a bad guy whose history needs to be explained and then be taken down, and of course the team up of the Justice League. It’s a lot to take in, and with that there is a lot that doesn’t work. Cyborg for one thing is never fully explained, and the character barely registers in the movie. The CGI on this half human, half machine face, meant that I couldn’t tell when it was the actual actor and when it was fully CG. In fact the CGI throughout the film is all over the place. You have superman’s CGI upper lip which becomes extremely off putting, whole CGI towns and armies which mean that the action scenes lose any sense of weight. This is especially apparent in the required climatic battle which could be substituted with any other climatic battle you’ve seen this year, just with worse graphics. It’s also clear that DC and Warner Bros. haven’t figured out how to portray Atlantis yet, with the brief scene set their being majorly underwhelming.
The biggest problem with this film though is the villain. Steppenwolf is the worst villain in any superhero movie. He has the characterisation of a PlayStation One villain, with the graphics to match. Most the time he is just standing their, spouting off vaguely threatening remarks, and any interaction he has with our heroes come across as though they were taken directly out of a video game. He is there to drive the plot forwars and this plot is flimsy at best.
It’s hard not to compare this with the first Avengers film. That film was the culmination of a six film plan from Marvel, finally uniting their separate franchises. Justice League should have felt like an event movie, but instead felt more like the pilot episode. This is the fifth film in to the DC universe, and we should expect better. If they want their audience to continue to follow these connected movies they need to show us that they have a plan, because at the moment it feels like they are making it up as they go along, and it’s not quite working.
On a side note, one thing that I found funny was the janitor at the beginning. There’s a close up of him, a black haired clean shaven guy, where we can see his photo identification pass. The guy on the pass is clearly not him, as it’s a white haired guy with a beard. Cut to a scene later and the pass has changed to the correct one. Only minor, but I found it funny, especially when this pass popped up in a later scene.