Justice League – Review


No joke, I am a huge Justice League fan, or at least I was with the animated series. If anyone actually asked me now what would be in your ten favourite TV shows, Justice league would be on that list. It was a real culmination of what Bruce Tim had visioned what DC’s animated department could be and in a sense, they kind of beat Marvel to a Cinematic Universe. Granted, there had only been three series prior to its creation, but it was a real Fx series, every episode was multi-part, so as a result, it led to every story line having an epic feel.

Justice League was always going to be on the cards for the DCU. It’s DC’s premier Superhero team, in the same way that the Avengers is for Marvel. In fact DC developed the concept of the Superhero team prior to that of Marvel with the Justice Society of America. So, this is DC’s ball park. The problem is though, is that DC has been having a bit of a rough time in getting its Cinematic Universe up and running. The major reason being, they haven’t been able to build up their Universes properly. I have a feeling this film would have come out a lot sooner had Green Lantern have been more of a success, since that film was melt to herald in the DC Cinematic Universe just a few short years after Iron Man got Marvel started off. The problem is, Green Lantern was a bit of a critical and financial bomb, so DC went back to the drawing board again and created Man of Steel, which as I mentioned, is a film I don’t really like. Zack Snyder directed that, plus the follow up Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice, which I reviewed for the site last year, and to be honest, I actually felt like I was way too lenient on that film, second viewings have made me realise that there are a lot of problems with that film. Though I still thought it was better than Man of Steel, because I at least felt that Batman V Superman dropped the ball a lot less than Man of Steel did. Justice League, though, has a lot to introduce, including several characters, since, well only two of its characters have been introduced in a full capacity in films prior to this one, that being Batman and Wonder Woman. So, this film also has to handle the introduction of Aquaman and Cyborg, that’s a tall order in a film.
For the record, this is a non-spoiler review,
which means, unfortunately, this is to avoid moments that haven’t already been spoilt in trailers, this review might be shorter than usual.
The thing is, though, Zack Snyder has not been in the director’s chair entirely, despite the fact that he is the only credited director in the actual film. He had to retire from the project after the tragic suicide of his daughter and he was replaced by Avenger’s director Joss Weedon, who apparently did several re-shoots and re-works to the story. So the question is, how has it worked with two director’s visions and can this keep the DC Cinematic Universe going and competing against Marvel after the well placed success of Wonder Woman kept the ball rolling. As I said, this is a non-spoiler review, but to keep everyone on board, I have got to give away plot details of Batman V Superman. So, this is a direct warning, this is your last chance, I am spoiling the plot of that film. The next paragraph is a complete plot synopsis that will give away the ending of that movie, so if you don’t want to know the ending of that movie then skip the next paragraph and move on to the next one. You have been warned!!!

Following the death of Superman, Batman, (played by Ben Affleck) is noticing the comings of an alien invasion and without Superman, the world needs a vision of hope. He starts to bring a team together. A villainous demon from apocalypse, named Steppenwolf, (played by Ciaran Hinds) is attempting to gain three mother boxes to ravage the planet and make it more like his home in order for a full scale invasion from the apocalypse. Batman alone cannot defeat it so in order to do so he rallies a team together including Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot), Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa), Barry Allen, aka The Flash (played by Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (played by Ray Fisher). The team unites under the cohort to prevent Steppenwolf from getting the last mother box. However, it’s beginning to look like even this Justice League is not quite enough.

Now, rather like Batman V Superman, Justice League has a lot to tackle in a space of time, in terms of character introductions and dynamics, setting up several worlds and really building this Cinematic Universe, however, it kind of succeeds. Well, at least more so than Batman v Superman did. There is certainly a decent set up for Aquaman and The Flash’s movies, which will be coming out next year and I certainly liked a lot of the characters and the character dynamic. Granted, I don’t think this film has got them down as well as, say, Wonder Woman has, but it’s nice to know that DC was addressing a lot of the complaints they had with previous films. The world is a lot brighter, there is a lot less of the awful dialogue and symbolism there was in previous films and the characters at least feel like their comic counterparts, for the most part, I still think Batman is a bit off and I am beginning to see Affleck’s disdain for playing the character, which suggests to me that Batman might not be sticking around for too much longer, unfortunately.

That being said, however, this a film that feel underwhelming. Everything about this film is underwhelming, it’s almost as if the bare minimum required has been put into the film. For the very first time we are seeing the Justice League on screen, nothing about this whole thing feels very epic. It just feels that it is like their attempt to get their foot in the door so they can compete with Marvel. Everything just doesn’t feel like it’s there!! In fact, by the end of the film I just said, “is that it”!! In fact. the whole thing is a lot shorter. This is the shortest of the DC Cinematic Films to date, coming in at just two hours, but I think this film warranted a two and a half hours running time, There are several character moments that could have had an entire arc dedicated to them and I think an extra thirty minutes could have delivered that. Unlike Batman V Superman, it’s not trying to do too much in too little a time. It knows what it wants to be, gets it all out and gets it out of the way. The problem is, it doesn’t fully work. That’s not to say it doesn’t get anything right, far from it, there are a few things it gets very well done. I think they got The Flash down right, they had a slightly Autistic edge to him, which felt a bit out of character from the comics, but I thought it was done pretty well. So, that’s why I personally think it’s alright, although, unlike Power Rangers, it’s not outright stated. The problem is, though, that a lot of the characters do not feel fleshed out. We don’t even see the origins for these characters, presumably they are all being saved for their individual solo films, though why Cyborg is getting a solo film, I have no clue!! But at least this film, unlike Batman V Superman has the characters acting like hero’s. I just wish there was more to it. It all felt just “ehh”. But, to be honest, I think this film could have been worse. In all honesty I was looking for several moments to see, “is that a Weedon moment” or “is that a Snyder moment” and most of the best ones I think, were done by Weedon. A lot of insider reports suggest that Weedon fixed what was a very bad film, so he has probably rescued it. To be honest, if these are his additions, he has done a pretty good job with it. The world feels brighter and more colourful, it’s a much more engaging film. I don’t know which one of them did the action scenes, but they are really good, but more on that later. The fights have weight to them because it feels like there is a worth to it.

The weakest part of this film is Steppenwolf. Christ, he is a bad choice for a first Justice League villain! Ok, I am glad they didn’t go all the way and use Dark Side as the very first Justice League villain, that’s the big bad of the DC Universe and he would have been an unwise choice for the first villain. But they could have gone with another alien threat like Starro the Conqueror, in fact, one of the dream sequences, or flash backs or whatever the hell was going on in Batman V Superman, he’s entirely unnecessary, so he doesn’t play a part in this film, like I was expecting it to. So, if that is going to have any r significance in any future films from now, because they don’t elaborate on it at all. Granted, Justice League has a lot to work with and it does use that to its best degree, but you get a sense, the entire time that it’s a case of ‘I want to love this film’, but I am struggling, because it is makes a bad move and ultimately it feels there should be more here, in fact, I actually wouldn’t mind an extended edition of this film.

We do get a few hints to upcoming films including the brief introduction of the concept of two famous DC characters who have already been confirmed to have future movies, plus it feels like the larger DC Universe has been realised, however, you can’t help but feel that there is nothing epic about this. In fact, one of the scenes looks almost identical to the Battle for Manhattan in the Avengers film to try and give it an epic adventure, but the point is, it was epic in the Avengers because we had a film for each of these characters so it meant more when they all came together. This film doesn’t quite have that.

Ben Affleck is doing his best, but you can tell he is not quite as into the role as when he first started. One of the reasons I was hoping this film would be a success was to keep him around because I think he could make a very good Batman, though the film now does elaborate that Batman has been active for twenty years, which does add a lot more to the portrayal of this version of the character. Gal Gadot is once again fantastic as Wonder Woman, honestly forget the Fast and Furious films, this feels like this is the role she was born to play. Jason Momoa has been introduced very well as Aquaman even if he is basically spouting a lot of one-liners for most of the film. Ezra Miller makes a pretty good Flash, and I personally felt he did a pretty good job, though his is not as good in the role as Grant Gustin from the TV series, in fact I am quite glad they didn’t go too far into his origin considering how many people are aware of it from the TV series. Newcomer Ray Fisher is once again really good as Victor Stone and Ciaran Hinds, I love the fact that he trying to put a lot into the voice of Steppenwolf, but he is hampered by a poor script. Other actors to note are Amy Adams as Lois Lane, again, you feel like she could play a brilliant Lois Lane, but is once again hampered by the script. Jeremy Irons is once again pretty good as Alfred and the film also does a decent job of introducing Joe Morton who makes a very good Silas Stone and J K Simmons as this DC Universe’s version of Commissioner Gordon, who, despite the fact that he isn’t on screen a whole lot, really feels like he embodies the character, he is honestly a pretty good choice.

Now, let’s talk about presentation. Halleluiah, they actually got some bright colours into the DC Universe and kept it going for two more films. The costumes just look a bit better, none of them feel that out of place, even Aquaman’s costume was better than I was expecting it to be, the promotional material made it look way too grey! I felt fortunate that they decided to go down that route. The action scenes are decently well shot, a few are weaker than others, including a few of fights with Steppenwolf, there’s a really cool scene with the Amazons a pretty decent underwater action scene to give us an idea of what Aquaman is going to be like in his solo film. Hell, they even got Batman’s action down a bit better.

I saw the film in 3D, but I would recommend you don’t see the film in that format. The film is still in darkening environments, which affects the 3D quite a lot and I would say I lost the 3D effect very quickly and it’s almost un-noticeable, in other words, 3D is almost entirely unnecessary for this film.

Justice League is ultimately the most underwhelming film I have seen all year. It has good parts and bad parts, but I ultimately felt it was just a rather “there movie”. That’s not to say it has put me of the DC Cinematic Universe entirely, I am still going to check these films out, but I am not going into them with much enthusiasm any more. I think Joss Weedon has probably done a lot of work and this film could have been a lot worse, but I am not judging this film by what it could have been, I am judging it on what it is and right now, it doesn’t entirely work. I think if you have enjoyed the DC movies up to now, you will probably enjoy this one, if you haven’t enjoyed them, this one isn’t going to change your mind. If you enjoyed Wonder Woman it is worth a watch because you get more of her and she is one of the best parts of the film. I can safely say, if I was to rank it, I like the film more than Man of Steel, I liked it more that Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice, I liked it more than Suicide Squad, but Wonder Woman was a much, much better film. If you do go, stick around until the very end, there are two post-credit scenes, one which is a rather amusing joke one, which was fun and I quite liked and the other is a set up for a sequel, but it introduces a very well-known DC character, who you won’t want to miss.

Time to move on, and I am keeping going with a review of film I saw in 2016 at a film festival that just got a dvd The Boy and The Beast

Thanks a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and well, I guess it didn’t suck, that’s a plus!!

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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