Let’s be honest, who was actually looking forward to this one? Justice League has finally been released – only five years after Avengers Assemble! Justice League is so late to its own party I’m actually amazed that it’s finally happened. The ship has sailed, yet still this passenger turned up to port. But there is still a lot riding on this one, for DC at any rate. Man of Steel was a dull, soulless and overall poor Superman film – not to mention, on a more personal note, I’m not sure I’ve been more bored by a film before or since. But it was at least coherent. More than you could say for Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, a colossal mess that had its moments – like the warehouse scene – but otherwise was a painful watch. Suicide Squad was a horrible film on almost every conceivable level. Not without it’s joyful moments, but all around just very poor. But with the release of Wonder Woman – a fun and pretty decent woman-empowering action film – and the film it’s all been building to, maybe we have finally hit our turn around.
A new threat has arrived to destroy the world – because taking over it is too much hassle I guess – in the from of Steppenwolf. This new villain is enough to make Batman and Wonder Woman find other powered beings; namely The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. They discover the villain’s plan and know what they must do to stop him. The problem is, for their plan and team to work they need someone with more strength, both physically and mentally. They need Superman, but he is dead…
For more on the plot I advise you to put on a copy of either of the Avengers films because it’s the exact same thing. This does mean that we get some interesting (if overblown) action scenes and some nice banter between characters in-between. Honestly, it’s mostly the cast that works in this films favour. Yes, Henry Cavil and Amy Adams are back; and yes when they are together they are both horrible written, badly performed and have the same chemistry as Christenson and Portman did in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. When separate though, they were passable. I also felt that Ciaran Hinds was a pretty poor choice for our villain, but more on him later. Everyone else, though, were actually really good. Ben Affleck, Jeremy Irons and Gal Gadot return, and while not giving their best performances, did a good job of keeping these characters alive. Our newcomers are Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher and Jason Mamoa. Fisher did well as Cyborg, although he felt rather sidelined. More so was Mamoa as Aquaman – but the charisma he oozed made this a fun character. Miller took the role of Flash and was easily the films highlight. He perfectly played the character, to my understanding anyway, and never failed to be fun and charming all at once.
As for the rest of the film, it’s pretty tough to say. There’s no way of continuing without addressing the elephant in the room. Zach Snyder is credited as the film’s director; but he stepped down when his daughter committed suicide. With this understandable decision made, Avengers director Joss Whedon took over and finished the film with reshoots. I mention this because, to this film’s credit, you can’t tell that two people directed it. Both styles complement each over very well. What does show, however, is that the film was extensively reshot and that over fifty minutes of film had been cut. With production starting just after the release of BVS, I can safely say that this film was rushed. Tonally speaking, Justice League has a very unbalanced structure. It’s dark and full of slaughter at times, but then light-hearted at others. It also feels like it starts about six times. It’s a bad sign when my first reaction to a film is “what’s going on?”
It’s also weirdly pretentious. This film feels like an apology for the previous franchise films and like a celebration of them all at once. The visual style and dialogue all feel like there is something important to say. Like this is the big film that brings these fallen heroes together and fighting evil again. It’s a nice message and I appreciate the effort, but maybe things should be attempted with such seriousness when your film features a fish-man fighting a bad guy called Steppenwolf! Let’s talk about him, shall we? Weird and hilarious name aside, Steppenwolf really stood out to me in this film…as possibly the worst movie villain I have seen in years. He’s boring. He’s ugly to look at. He’s not well acted. He’s not well written. He feels like a henchman to a greater villain who has been given full reigns of the film. I never felt threatened by him. Because of this, my immersion was halted. I could not get into the film at all because I had no feeling that anything was at stake.
It’s not just him. Aquaman has near zero character given to him. The Flash is better off, but it’s mostly from the performance. Cyborg I still know nothing about. The same goes for Batman and Wonder Woman too; but they have had their stand-alones already. These three have not. I have read very few comics, only one of which was a DC comic (Watchmen), so I have no idea who or what these characters are. That’s why I feel I can only recommend this film to fans of DC. If you liked the other films in the DCCU, then this will be perfect for you. If you wish to see your favourite comic heroes on the big-screen, then this will also be perfect for you. But for the majority of audiences, this film will be completely lost on them.
Justice League is fun I suppose, but it’s the worst superhero film of the year. It’s just a mess. However, it is a stumble in the right direction. It’s pretty sad to see that the bold, dark and brooding DC has been forced to copy Marvel after one too many blunders. But, if that means that I get to see less of the films like BVS and Suicide Squad then I’m happy with this little course correction. Despite myself I am glad I saw it, and I can only hope for better down the line.
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