Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, J.K. Simmons
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. (Source: IMDb)
Whilst the first movies in the new DCEU received mixed reviews, Wonder Woman garnered generally positive praise from critics and fans. With Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) returning for Justice League, there was the renewed hope that it would follow in the same vein. Sadly, it is DC back to their usual tricks, and whilst not as bad as the catastrophic Suicide Squad, it is probably on a par with the super average Batman vs Superman, or perhaps even just a notch below.
The problems with this film emerge very early, and similarly to BvS, the narrative, pacing and editing are all over the place. It feels the need to introduce us to the characters one after the other, trying to piece them together with increasingly tedious and tenuous links, and it feels unbelievably clunky. Having shot themselves in the foot with the decision to only introduce a most of these characters in a brief and baffling video montage sequence in BvS, the development feels rushed. It’s a case of “here’s this person and this person, oh and don’t forget this person…and now they’re together. Because reasons”. This made it incredibly difficult to invest in the characters, and crucially, them as a unit. Of course, these are well known characters and we know who is who, but we don’t care, and that is where it falters.
Individually, the characters are fine, and there are some very obvious stand-outs. Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is still great, and Gal Gadot is amazing as Wonder Woman. She is easily the best thing about this film and steals every single scene she is in. However, the rest of the League don’t fare as well. It wouldn’t be surprising if people warmed to him as he is very much the “comic” relief, but Ezra Miller’s Flash proved insufferable, nothing more than an annoying, bratty kid, whose “witty” one-liners felt unbelievably forced. Ray Fisher as Cyborg was bland, and whilst considerable effort was made to make this lesser-known character appealing, this did not succeed. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman was just baffling, and suffered the most from poor character development. The film explained next to nothing about him, and yes, comic book fans will know all about him, but this isn’t a comic book, and the film made absolutely no effort to explain why these characters were suddenly all coming together as a united force. Henry Cavill has received some flack for his Superman, and of course it was no real secret that he would be back despite his “death” at the end of BvS. “Mustache-gate” (no one is really calling it this) has been all over the internet, as Henry Cavill had some rather striking facial hair when the reshoots were being done. The CGI work to remove his mustache is atrocious, and with a wooden performance and a plastic face, Cavill fares terribly – which isn’t entirely his fault but it was distracting to say the least.
Forgive me if it seems like this next bit has been copy and pasted from most other superhero movie reviews, but Justice League ultimately suffers from a boring villain, with questionable and inadequately explained motives, and a terrible over-CGI’d showdown conclusion. Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) has to be one of the worst superhero villains, maybe ever, whose dastardly plan involved stealing some magic boxes or something like that, because reasons which aren’t important, for a purpose which is never explained. By the time the inevitable showdown stomped its way in, the film was beyond saving, the stakes were non-existent never-mind low, and it was offensively predictable.
I saw this movie so you don’t have to…but that won’t stop everyone from seeing it, and I know people have/will enjoy it as well. For me, Justice League represented everything terrible about superhero movies. Lacking in all natural cohesion and chemistry as a unit, there was no sense of investment in either the heroes or the villains. On the plus side, Wonder Woman was great as always and the dream is they just scrap the rest of the planned slate of films and make nothing but Wonder Woman films from now on. Bland, boring, generic, dull and thoroughly disappointing, the Justice League? More like the “Just-shit League*”.
*I’ve used this joke many times on several social media platforms. It is still funny.