MOVIE REVIEW – JUSTICE LEAGUE
The one thing for sure DC and Marvel have in common when it comes to their films is that the villain at times tends to be underwhelming. Such was the case in Justice League, the latest installment of the DCEU. But with that said, Justice League isn’t a complete train wreck largely because the heroes themselves are quite likeable and easy to root for. Warning, spoilers ahead…
Remember that feeling when The Avengers assembled on the big screen? That iconic shot of all them ready to face-off against an alien threat? The audience in the theater went nuts. I was waiting for that same reaction here and it didn’t happen. The excitement was more muted. Not sure if it’s because there has been so many films in the genre over the last 10 years that we’ve become less star struck or that the DCEU lacks a certain something that clearly the MCU has done so brilliantly.
Justice League is the fifth film in the DCEU and aside from Wonder Woman, these films have been largely a disappointment. Justice League is nowhere near as good as Wonder Woman but it does enough to make it enjoyable. Picking up after the events of Batman v Superman, we see Batman (Ben Affleck) fighting off and defeating some insect-like alien beings called Parademons on the rooftops of Gotham, he knows the time to assemble a team is now. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) help with the recruitment. Heroes like Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) are all given a cliff note style introduction before joining the “league” to square off against the films big bad, a god-like being called Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). The kryptonian technology from Man of Steel and the ones tested by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) in BvS has awakened Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons look to take over a weakened Earth now that Superman is gone and recreate it as his own planet.
We learn in a Lord of the Rings style flashback, where the Amazons, Atlanteans, Humans and some outer worldly group all teamed up centuries ago to defeat Steppenwolf before. To contain a future threat, three mother boxes of unlimited power were separated and guarded by the Amazons, Atlanteans and human race. Severely out numbered and to satisfy his own guilt, Batman wants to use one of these boxes to resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) much to Wonder Woman’s objections. This leads to a pivotal scene between Bruce and Diana where he challenges her leadership and why she had hidden her abilities for nearly a century.
The pacing could be better. There are too many stretches of just dialogue, some of which unintentionally humorous and plain odd. The special effects are not bad but unlike the MCU, they appear more like a video game. It’s hard however to not root for this team once they are all working together and get pass the growing pains of working together for a greater good. Each one brings something to the table. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman owns the character and I hope continues on in the role. Henry Cavill’s Superman grows on me and for the first time in three films, Henry looks like he was having fun. I think with the right script, he makes a great Superman. Gal Gadot is simply a wonder, pun intended. Not only does she hold her own among all the testosterone “children”, she may be the most super of the superheroes. Aquaman in my book has never been cooler thanks to the charming Jason Momoa. Ray Fisher as Cyborg does a credible job with the character and had a lot more to do in the film than originally thought which was good to see. But the standout for me was Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash. He pretty much steals each screen he’s in. Whether it’s the dialogue or the visual look of amazement in his eyes that I’m sure is more Joss Whedon influenced than Zack Snyder after Whedon took over the director’s chair after a personal tragedy sidelined Snyder from finishing the film.
In the end, Justice League is far from perfect but DC seems to be finding its own voice. I said it before and I’ll say it again, DC needs to have its own studio. They need to be run by fanboys/fangirls who love and appreciate these characters and not see them solely as cash cows for action figures. My personal pick is Patty Jenkins. I think the DCEU could use a woman’s touch.
One huge edge DC has over Marvel as of now, is the post credit scene in Justice League is better than anything Marvel has done to date and generated the biggest buzz in the theater. The future may be brighter than we think .
Directed by: Zack Snyder & in part Joss Whedon
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons and Diane Lane
PG-13 119 min
JUSTICE LEAGUE – ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight