Movie Review | Justice League
The countdown to Justice League - is over! It's zero hour for DC's super-team, although half of them are making their first appearance in the this movie; can they stave off this crisis, both in-universe, and for the studio if things don't work out?
Movie Summary: Fuelled 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. (IMDb)
Just back from seeing Justice League, I’m honestly struggling to think of a way to describe this film without repeating criticisms from earlier entries in the DC cinematic shared continuity, but the honest truth is that many of the same problems that plagued other titles are also present here.
Things are a little better because of an injection of humour, but it does create a tonal dissonance comparing Justice League to its more grim and laugh-free predecessors. Wonder Woman escaped this issue by being set during World War One, but Justice League doesn’t have that get-out.
The chief issue unique to this film is that it feels like a sequel to films that don’t exist, with Batman and Superman both acting nothing like their previous appearances. Oh yeah, Superman’s alive in case you couldn’t figure that out from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s ending.
The Man of Steel is portrayed as this beloved, worldwide symbol of hope when he was never presented as anything like that in his previous two appearances. The closest he got was saying that the ‘S’ on his chest was actual the symbol for hope on Krypton.
Wonder Woman is still great, Gal Gadot being the real star of the show and rightly being placed central to the action. The debuting members of the Justice League – Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash – don’t really fare that well, being loose archetypes to fill the required roles on the team.
There’s some fun interchanges between them, with my personal favourite being a scene close to the end involving Aquaman and Diana’s lasso. The problem is that it’s those interactions defining them rather than being characters in their own right because this is their first appearance, so how could they be as well-realised as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman?
It doesn’t stop their shared scenes from being fun though, although having to introduce and familiarise the audience with so many new faces leaves little time for J K Simmons or Amy Adams to do much, plus it means that the film feels all over the place as it hops around to give the new arrivals at least some backstory.
Bad editing and narrative flow has been a consistent hallmark of the DC shared continuity movies, and there’s no change here, with some abrupt changes of location and tone that might leave you wondering what the hell is going on.
Amazingly, this isn’t the worst thing about the film, although its issues are definitely on technical and post-production side of things, with some truly horrendous visual effects work. I get that it’s a difficult job and that blockbusters like these have huge VFX demands for the team working on it.
I understand that the change in directors due to the horrible tragedy suffered by the Snyder family and extensive re-shoots under Joss Whedon’s guidance meant that the people involved probably did hundreds of hours of work that would go unused.
That still doesn’t forgive how bad some of the effects are, with Cyborg’s head seeming to just float on top of his CGI body, a ludicrously bad-looking antagonist in the utterly forgettable Steppenwolf, and the utterly bizarre digital erasure of Henry Cavill’s Mission: Impossible 6 contract-required moustache. The film even opens with it, and it’s obvious immediately, with his face just looking utterly bizarre.
Justice League isn’t terrible as a whole, but the good here – and there is a fair bit of it – is almost perfectly balanced out by the bad, with the rest of the film simply just being there. It’s not boring per se, rather it’s entirely inconsequential and immediately forgettable and the only reason non-hardcore DC fans would possibly want to watch this film more than once would be to remind themselves that certain stretches of action actually existed at all.