Justice League has finally arrived to mostly indifferent reviews. This won’t come as a huge shock to anyone who has followed DC and Warner Brothers troubled attempt at an extended cinematic universe – something which rivals Marvel have seemingly aced over the last decade. As a huge fan of Batman, Superman and the rest, I’m willing to afford this franchise a lot of slack. A lot. With that said, Justice League is still a disappointment when all is said and done, but certainly not the complete disaster early reviews have suggested. It’s frequently entertaining, it has some great set-pieces and there’s moments of really decent comedy – it’s just all packaged together without due diligence.
DC are still persevering with a universe that I would personally like to see end. There are high points for sure… Gal Gadot is sensational as Wonder Woman and the stories chosen haven’t given Henry Cavill’s Superman a fair crack of the whip yet. But by fast-tracking their way to a superhero team-up movie, the end product feels half-baked throughout. There’s a life lesson here kids – don’t fast track your way to a seemingly easy win, as you’ll inevitably lose the war.
Justice League has a lot of specific things that need addressing. This review is spoiler-free so for a more detailed break-down of what is wrong (and right) with Justice League check out our spoiler-filled article where we look at what worked and what didn’t.
So we join the story as the world is suffering under increased crime and terror now that Superman (Henry Cavill) has died. Batman (Ben Affleck) knows that a world-ending threat is fast approaching, so with the help of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) looks to form a group of super individuals to rise to the challenge – namely The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). But will their united force be enough to stop Steppenwolf (the voice of Ciarán Hinds) from combining three mystical Mother Boxes to destroy the Earth.
Justice League works on a few levels. Ezra Miller is the man responsible for bringing most of the comedy to the table and lightening up the dark tone. He does well, but occasionally they have him run in a really bizarre way… think Phoebe from that episode of Friends when she teaches Rachel to run like no-one is watching. But Miller’s rapport with his fellow superheroes is solid, even if it takes a while for the character to really step up to the plate. He looks great too. If there’s one thing this iteration of the Justice League has done right, it’s the visual interpretations of The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman realised on the big screen.
Ben Affleck is fine as Batman, but he just seems so uncomfortable in that suit though. It looks so restricting onscreen so don’t expect too much jumping around from the character. Gal Gadot is solid as ever, and Wonder Woman 2 can’t come soon enough. Ray Fisher is surprisingly good as Cyborg, a character that is everyone 6th favourite Justice Leaguer. I still have no desire to watch a standalone Cyborg film but his story is handled well here.
Jason Momoa is fine too but Aquaman’s story is glossed over so quickly. Much like Wonder Woman, his standalone film should address these concerns, but it all feels so rushed right now. And there’s an odd bit where he swigs the last bit of whisky from a bottle before smashing it in the ocean. I thought Aquaman was supposed to defend the ocean, not pollute it even more. Think of the fishes man.
I know I said this was a spoiler-free review, but there’s a little one coming up… Superman is in this film. I personally don’t class that as a spoiler, as the ad campaign has featured him quite a bit and everyone knows he is coming back. So his return is handled ok but again, could have been more emotionally charged. There is one amazing and brief scene between Superman and The Flash which is genius and very funny though – easily the highlight of the entire film.
There’s some laughably bad CGI used to digitally remove Henry Cavill’s facial hair when reshoots were needed (and his current employers rightly refused to let their star change his appearance mid-shoot). It’s hilarious and at this level, there must surely have been a better way to re-shoot this. Talking of CGI, Steppenwolf is plucked straight from a PS3 cut-scene. Why isn’t the solid motion-capture work used to such great effect in the likes of the Planet of the Apes franchise used here? It’s a cheap way to go and makes everything look too cartoony, especially when you have the excellent acting talents of Ciarán Hinds at your disposal. Andy Serkis is in a corner somewhere crying.
Justice League fails to deliver the film we deserve but given the predicament we find ourselves in, it’s enjoyable in certain aspects. It’s a lot better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as a standalone film, and I’m sure kids will enjoy this a lot more. There’s slight hope that the franchise is slowly learning from its mistakes too which can only be a good thing. It would be great to get fresh talent on-board to write and direct the next slate of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) if we have to pursue this path. I’d rather a line drawn under this iteration and a new vision realised that retains Gadot and Cavill but approaches its stories from a new standpoint.
After Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman, Justice League is pretty much the film you are expecting, with a few highlights thrown in for good measure. And stick around during the end credits for two enjoyable extra scenes.
Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Joe Morton Director: Zack Snyder Writer: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder Released By: Warner Bros Certificate: 12A Duration: 120 mins Release Date: 17th November 2017