Movie Review: ‘Justice League’ (Second Opinion)

Plot:  In the wake of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) discovers a possible new threat to the planet.  With the assistance of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), the two seek out people with similar abilities.  This includes college student Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Atlantean Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and former football star Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher).  Together the team unites to confront Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds).  Only together can these heroes become the Justice League and stop the Earth from certain destruction.

Read Gfunk’s review here!

Review:  I’ve had a few days to mull over Justice League and while I have lots to say regarding this film, it boils down to this:  Justice League is flawed but fun.  If that’s good enough for you, you’ll probably enjoy it.  If you’re expecting The Dark Knight or Wonder Woman, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

So let’s start with the flawed.  The most egregious problem is that this isn’t Zack Snyder’s film and this isn’t Joss Whedon’s film.  This is Warner Bros’ film.  It’s clear that after the disastrous reactions by both critics and audiences alike to last year’s BvS, that Warner Bros. panicked.  Their response to criticism that BvS was too dour was to lighten things up in Justice League.  That meant more jokes, especially from Ezra Miller’s Flash and a tone that was more hopeful.  While the jokes actually landed about 70% of the time (Flash’s first encounter with Superman and Aquaman accidentally divulging info because of Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth were particularly funny) a lot of them were forced.  It felt like Warner Bros. screaming, “See!  See!  We know how to have fun!  Look at our jokes!”

The tonal shift is going to delight some people and piss off others.  It’s definitely jarring as Batman is far less brooding and terrifying than in BvS.   Sadly, they took away Batman’s balls in Justice League with Affleck toning it way down.  He’s not nearly as menacing and we don’t get anything near the cool warehouse scene from BvS.  I think it’s clear he wants out of the DCEU and it’s only a matter of time before he announces his departure.  Superman meanwhile is more in line with Christopher Reeve’s Superman than the sulking, insecure Superman we’ve seen in previous films.  As for Henry Cavill, despite the radical change in attitude, he embraces it and pulls it off.  Although I was a fan of his previous portrayal of Superman, I’m OK with his new persona as well.  There’s some excellent moments of humanity here such as Superman’s reunion with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and an excellent moment between him and Cyborg in the final battle.

Speaking of that final battle, while exciting it was way too short and symptomatic of the overuse of CGI.  With the pendulum starting to shift back towards practical effects (The Force Awakens) there’s no reason not to employ a practical effect method.  Additionally, the final fight is overly bombastic which is in direct contrast to Danny Elfman’s tepid score.  Honestly it may be the worst music Elfman’s ever done for a film.  It makes me wonder what Junkie XL’s score would have been like.

Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) isn’t nearly as bad visually as everyone is making him out to be, although I will admit that he looked somewhat like a video game villain.  Unfortunately, he’s also a very generic and bland Big Bad.  If we eventually see Darkseid down the road hopefully the script writers will do much better.  The best thing I can say about the third act confrontation was that all six heroes worked together as a TEAM.  Everyone had their moment to shine.

Which leads me into the positive.

I flat-out LOVED the league.  I thought their chemistry was amazing.  It was palpable and the audience I saw the film with reacted in kind.  Despite the short run time I never thought any of the characters were short-changed.  Gadot again proved why she’s the best thing about the DCEU right now with multiple bad-ass moments.  I really enjoyed Ezra Miller’s Flash/Barry Allen*, and this is coming from someone who thought Grant Gustin should step in and take the role.  He’s quirky, funny, and endearing.  Barry’s scenes with his father Henry (Billy Crudup) who was wrongfully accused of killing his wife are some of the most emotional of the film.

The person who impressed me the most however was Ray Fisher as Cyborg/Victor Stone.  Victor struggles with the knowledge that he’s now mostly machine.  He’s trying to figure out how he fits into the world and if any Victor Stone remains at all in this new cybernetic body.  There’s clear character progression and Cyborg was someone I was truly invested in.**

Momoa’s Aquaman came across a little one note for me.  Don’t get me wrong he’s awesome in the role but he’s basically a rock star.  They’ve modified  his character to make him the badass of the group, replete with drinking whiskey straight out of the bottle and walking into the ocean.  However, he needs to be fleshed out more and hopefully that will come with his feature film next year.

The action sequences were still top-notch especially the flash-back scene involving the mother boxes and the fight between the Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and (SPOILER ALERT) Green Lanterns.  As to that last my friend Corey fanboyed the eff out when he saw the Lanterns, so take that for what it’s worth.  I appreciated the initial encounter with Steppenwolf as we saw the League go through their growing pains with Flash conquering his fear and Cyborg gaining back some humanity.  The only weak part I thought was Batman jumping in with another vehicle to save the day.  Batman’s vehicles were cool but they got gimmicky after a while, which should never happen to Batman outside the old Adam West television show.

If you’re on the Internet at all I probably don’t have to say this but make sure you stay for the post-credits scenes.  One is a light throwback to the old cartoon days.  The second shows a major character fans have been clamoring for AND teases a huge forthcoming story-line.

I hate throwing the word “fun” around because everybody’s definition of fun is different.  BvS was criticized for not being “fun” which I thought was specious and invalid.  Please see my first statement in this paragraph for an explanation.  Having said all that, Justice League is a fun movie.  It’s not deep, it’s not groundbreaking, but hot damn if it isn’t an enjoyable two hours at the movies.

*G-funk was absolutely right when he stated Flash was autistic in his review.  Barry Allen is definitely on the spectrum.  However, hats off to DC and WB for choosing to implement an autistic superhero.  Ditto Cyborg who essentially is a black/physically challenged superhero.  That’s something you NEVER see on the big screen. 

**I walked out of Justice League immediately needing the Flashpoint movie and a Cyborg movie. 


My rating System:

0-1 God Awful Blind Yourself With Acid Bad
2 Straight Garbage
3 Bad
4 Sub Par
5 Average
6 Ok
7 Good
8 Very Good
9 Great
10 A Must See

Justice League:  7/10 

You can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1