Let’s be honest, both fans and haters of the DC universe are intrigued by the outcome of Justice League. The film has long been under scrutiny (and reshoots) that have only made the storylines even juicier. As for the final results, well, that’s an entirely different story. The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon (uncredited)
Written By: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon
Following a newfound inspirations from Superman’s selfless actions, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince look to enlist a new crop of heroes in preparation for a greater enemy that is on the horizon. Now, with the help of heroes like The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, the group has formed a team that will stand toe to toe with unimagingable enemies. But, their efforts may be too little too late.
The issues in the development of Justice League has been widely publicized since Batman V Superman left moviegoers a little cold. The filming of Justice League started in April of 2016, soon after the release of BvS. After the critical drubbing that the film took, quick work was made to change up the script of JL to make the film lighter in tone. Early set visits by reporters would confirm this change.
Then, in March of this year, Zack Snyder stepped away from the project to mourn the loss of his daughter that had committed suicide a few weeks prior. In the wake of this tragedy, Joss Whedon stepped into the picture to finish the planned reshoots for the film. But, as we have since learned, those reshoots were a little more than Warner Bros. had planned.
Not only have the changes been noticeable in the marketing material of the film (a lighter color palette was washed over the action), but reports later surfaced that the reshoots were so unwieldy that the schedules of the actors involved were altered. In fact, Henry Cavill’s mustache that he had grown for Mission Impossible 6 had to be CGI-ed out of the film. With reports that the budget for the film has ballooned to over $300 million, this soap opera gets more lurid by the second.
Likable Characters Keep Things Fun
Easily the best elements in this movie are the heroes themselves. Some are forgotten from time to time (especially Cyborg), but each of them add an element to the film that makes you excited to see more of them.
As to be expected, Ben Affleck is a standout in the dual role of Bruce Wayne and Batman. His character has undergone some serious growth since we last saw him, becoming humbled and less damaged. Gal Gadot as his sidekick attempting to round up the rest of the League continues to be wonderful as ever as well.
However, the big highlight among the League may by Ezra Miller’s Flash. Acting as the audience stand-in, he’s the source of a lot of the comedy as a newbie to the superhero game. He’s witty, charming, and fun, just like every other character in the film. There’s a distinct shift in Justice League to lighter, quippy characters. Although some people loved the dark, grim aesthetic of previous films, it certainly helps to have entertaining lead characters when other elements of the film are lacking.
There’s a lot superheroes doing superhero-y things in Justice League. For some, that will be more than enough.
Very Choppy Editing Leads to a Somewhat Disposable Final Product
Reports surfaced a few days ago that Warner Bros. mandated that the film stay under two hours in length. Many cited that this was a reaction to less than favorable responses to the length of BvS. Whatever the reason, it definitely hampers the film.
JL has the difficult task of not only creating a streamlined narrative, but also introducing three new main characters to the mix while also dealing with the whole Superman situation. There’s so much to handle here that a two hour run time just doesn’t allow everything to become fleshed out. You really feel these demands take hold in the first and second acts of the film as we jump around from scene to scene without any establishing shots to become acclimated to the situation.
As a result, backstories and connections between characters are very much on the surface. There are hints and nods to character beats that I’m sure will be expanded upon in other films, but it’s not satisfying for this particular story. Characters saying bits of witty isn’t character depth.
With nothing of serious substance to savor, Justice League becomes shockingly forgettable.
There’s Nothing New Here
Then you get to the plot which is generic to say the least. For a movie as controversial as Justice League has been in the months leading up to its release, there’s not much here worth noting. We have yet another superhero film where a villain is in search of a MacGuffin with a disposable army at his side. At this point in the evolution of the superhero genre, each film needs to alter genre conventions in some way to become memorable. But, Justice League treats us to the same basic story we’ve seen for years now.
Although Ciaran Hinds‘ voice work is wonderful, Steppenwolf is merely a giant monster with horribly flimsy motivations while looking like a video game character from 2005. Steppenwolf could not be more of a generic figure. He is merely a means through which the story must occur.
When you add everything together, Justice League is a strong “meh” in many aspects. Nothing about the action is even all that tantalizing. Other than a celebration of renowned characters, Justice League doesn’t have much to offer. It’s a strangely fluffy film that won’t win any converts to the superhero genre.
From a purely critical standpoint, Justice League isn’t a very good movie. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that adds nothing new to the superhero genre. The plot isn’t very interesting and villain is super weak. But, there’s something worth saying about how cool it is to see these characters interact on screen together. Justice League isn’t highly entertaining in its own right. However, it exudes hope and confidence for the future of humanity…and the other DC movies that are currently in development.
Positivity rings throughout this film, leaving you on a high note even if the actions on screen don’t warrant that feeling. Justice League, against my better judgement, get a C+. Justice League has a bizarre feel that probably works way better than it should. You’ll come out of the film feeling great, and you won’t completely understand why.
It’s breezy, harmless, and has zero deadweight. That’s not exactly the great endorsement that many want to hear, but it makes for a movie that you shouldn’t have any major issues watching. This film is a placeholder for a new age in DC films. If you stick with DC for just a little longer, I think you’ll become handsomely rewarded.
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