Movie Review: ‘Justice League’
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielson, Ciarín Hinds, Joe Morton, Robin Wright
Plot: After fending off attacks from strange creatures, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit other heroes to defend the world from a larger invasion.
Review: Right, inevitable comparison time.
When Marvel Studios struck a home run with The Avengers, pulling together a team of their most popular heroes, Warner Brothers announced that a rival Justice League franchise would be coming. They’d be foolish not to, they’ve got the most famous and popular superheroes in history and have established them with movie audiences over the decades. There was criticism against the DCEU rushing through the stories, not taking the time Marvel took to set up the characters and the films taking themselves very seriously.
No doubt DC and Warner Brothers have paid careful attention to the feedback. All they have to do is take those notes on board and have fun with it. They struck gold with Wonder Woman, get this right and they can write off those early stumbles and rival the MCU!
Now that the DC fanboys who haven’t seen Justice League yet have gone straight to the comments to tell me I’m wrong, let’s start the review proper.
This film pulls together Wonder Woman, Stupid Batman, Grumpy Cyborg, Autistic Flash and Boring Aquaman to battle some guy with the horny helmet. The characters are the real selling point, so let’s tackle them one by one.
Wonder Woman is, again, the best part of this franchise. Gadot is simply amazing, a powerful presence and cool as hell. Her solo film elevated the series immensely, and gave us a brilliant cinematic female hero. Her role is expanded in this film to include being eye candy, as Snyder is determined to film her bottom in close-up from every possible angle. Gal Gadot is plenty sexy without this forced sexualisation.
We do like the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, he’s been pretty solid thus far and we’re looking forward to seeing his solo outing. He is pretty bloody stupid this time around though. He’s been getting built up in the franchise as researching and bringing together the team. Batman is established in the comics and media as always being two steps ahead and knowing everything about his villains and allies. It’s mind-boggling that he’s been seeking these guys out and yet knows almost nothing about them. He doesn’t even know what their powers are. He’s got a video of Flash and he hasn’t worked out that he’s fast.
Next up is Flash, and I wasn’t being flippant when I said he was autistic. They never say it, but every single aspect of his character and performance ranging from his interactions with others, his physical tics and his speech habits all indicates autistic spectrum disorder. If anyone who is qualified to diagnose this disorder saw the movie I’m sure they’d agree. There’s nothing inherently bad with idea, except that it’s played for comedy. Mostly it left us feeling as though they were trying way to hard to out-do the awkwardness and quirkiness of the already popular television Flash and landed here.
Finally there’s Grumpy Cyborg and Boring Aquaman. Cyborg, best known to mainstream audiences from Teen Titans, is often thought of as a fun character. He’s a smart and optimistic college football player. In this he’s just grumpy about being a Cyborg. Got a Frankenstein complex going. Aquaman is just boring, a real waste of the hugely charismatic Jason Mamoa. He only has one decent scene of character building, but it turns out to be set up for a joke (granted, the only joke that really landed). They’re also desperate to stay away from any of his traits and abilities that may be ridiculed, which also happen to be his most distinctive qualities such as communicating with sea creatures. He’s stripped down to a weaker, damp Superman.
Throughout the film we had endless, confusing questions. Why don’t the terrorists know who Wonder Woman is? You’d think the city-levelling battle alongside Superman might’ve made the news. Why doesn’t Batman care about his secret identity? Him and Aquaman literally walk alongside a crowd while talking loudly about how he’s Bruce Wayne and Batman from Gotham. Why do all the villain hordes stop fighting for half the finale and step by the side while their leading gets kicked around? Why isn’t the Mother Box actually defended in Atlantis? Why do the Amazonians have a defence system based around trapping a bunch of their warriors and crushing a couple more to death? The script is a complete mess.
Now, be warned…mild and predictable spoilers.
Plus there’s another character who you absolutely know is going to be in this. Superman does in fact return and, like his death, it is completely unearned. We didn’t care about his death because we hadn’t seen him do much and it was just a way to sideline him during the opening act of Justice League. They set up this idea that without Superman the world is in a bad state, but we never got a clear sense of what the world was like with him.
The return of this character also brings the biggest problem with the Justice League to the forefront: you don’t need a team when you have Superman. Everything boils down to one simple fact. The team are garbage until Superman shows up. They can’t do a damned thing against Steppenwolf and his evil scheme until Supes turns up and deals with it.
When the characters are gelling with each other and the action ramps up there are some good moments in this movie. But the closer you look at it the more the cracks show. We do like all these actors, and we think that they’re very well cast in this roles. It’s the script that let’s it all down, and being over-produced in general.
No doubt some viewers will have fun. Possibly drunk ones. It’s visually good but is determined to shoot itself in the foot over and over again.
Rating: THREE out of TEN