So here’s the good news: Justice League is not an unmitigated disaster. Yes, it’s still a weak, wonky mess with laugh out loud lines (remember “Martha?”) and tonal shift so wild you expect the resulting entertainment earthquake to produce tsunamis to rival those created by Aquaman. But for the most part, it avoids the gloomy self-seriousness of Batman v. Superman while leaning a few lessons from DC’s only post-Nolan success, Wonder Woman. The villain is pointless, the plot too simplistic, and the action a blur of CG splash and over-edited bedlam.
With Superman dead and the world in a strange state of pseudo-mourning, Batman (Ben Affleck, looking distracted) decides to bring together a team of meta-humans to deal with the latest crisis facing the planet–an invasion by angry alien Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) and his horde of flying monkeys…strike that, Parademons. These creeps are after the Mother Boxes, items which grant the holder unimaginable powers.
Using information gathered before, The Caped Crusader hooks up with four others to create a Man of Steel replacement. They are Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), naturally, the heir to the throne of Atlantis, Aquaman (Jason Moama), a snarky kid with the gift of speed, the Flash (Ezra Miller), and a half-boy, half-robot experiment named Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Realizing they can’t face this foe by themselves, they decide to resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) and, with his help, rid the Universe of this scourge once and for all.
It has to be said, if it hasn’t already–how can a movie with so many major league, above the marquee superheroes be such a slog? Man of Steel made its point about a super-strong stranger in a strange land by laying on the angst, but did Zack Snyder and Warners have to double down on the dour for the whole Justice League ideal? Oh sure, Momoa is playing Arthur Curry like the ultimate bro, and Miller’s Barry Allen is like the uncool kid in class you wish would stop with the quips, but the tone here is dark, dour, and derivative. It’s The Darker Knight, a creative challenge to the lighter, brighter MCU.
Having Superman–eventually–Batman and Wonder Woman alone should be enough to a rousing bit of amiable action adventure. But Snyder insists on staying with his somber, funeral parlor style and everything becomes a bummer. Joss Whedon doesn’t make matter any less lame. He just bounces in, adds a few jokes, and then sits back and waits to be declared a cinematic savior. His last minute input seems unnecessary now, even if rumors have him re-shooting somewhere between a fourth and a third of the final film.
Again, the big mistake here is assuming that audience will immediately cotton to your comic book icons without a full blown introduction. Aquaman’s movie (helmed by James Wan) should have come out before he was introduced here. Same with Cyborg and the Flash. Heck, it took Marvel three shots before they got Hulk right, and Thor has spent the same number of films perfecting his image. Jumping in with a full blown Justice League before we even know or care about these characters may be fine for the fanboy, but for those unfamiliar with the group, the film version goes nowhere. It’s a case of artistic assumption and a bad one at that.
Would a better bad guy have helped? Sure. Would a lighter, more uplifting tone have aiding in avoiding some of the movie’s main problems? Maybe. Is there way too much exposition and chit-chat for an superhero epic with apocalyptic consequences. Absolutely. Justice League remains a watchable waste of 110 minutes. But as a challenge to the rest of the genre, it comes up mighty short.
Comment (1) on "Justice League"
After wasting over $10 and over 2 hours of my life watching BvS, I was angry for a whole month! So I boycotted SS (glad I did) and now refer to Rotten Tomatoes before parting with my money and minutes of my finite life. After using RT to research WW, I’m glad I paid to see it in the cinema. I did not have any hope for JL because my expectations of it were so low because of BvS & Zack Snyder (seems I’m right — not planning to see this one either). I grew up reading DC Comics which had far superior superheroes than the cheesy Marvel Comics, but now Marvel Studios make better movies, leaving DC Studios in their dust. I don’t understand why the DC Fanboys & Fangirls love any DC Movie that comes out, regardless of quality, just because their favourite superhero is on the big screen. Taking the lazy way of introducing members of JL via stolen Lex Luthor’s files (complete with each member’s logo) without their own individual movies was incredibly stupid in an effort to catch up with Marvel Studios. There was no need to rush — was there a competition to see who could set up their all-star lineup first? That race had already been won. What’s wrong with following Marvel’s route of introducing superheroes? If you want success, imitate the steps to success by not reinventing the wheel. Like in real life, not putting in effort produces mediocre results. WE (i.e. everyone else) & OUR BELOVED SUPERHEROES DESERVE MUCH BETTER than the current rubbish from DC that we’re subjected to (with the exception of WW of course, Patty Jenkins should be in charge of the DC Extended Universe). The executives in charge should make a better corporate decision to fire Zack Snyder because he’s damaging their returns on their investments, and also not force any movie to under a 2-hour limit. REBOOT THE D.C. UNIVERSE! PS Bill Gibron, it is unfortunate that you had to sit through a bad DC movie so that others (not me!) may not have to. They owe you big time!
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