“Justice League” is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, and Henry Cavill. The film is about Batman bringing a group of heroes together in order to save the world from the evil force of Steppenwolf.
There is no other way to put this: DC has been shaky at best in recent years, especially with Zack Snyder films. “Man of Steel” is okay, as is “Batman v. Superman,” and “Suicide Squad” is just awful. Still, “Wonder Woman” was pretty great and I do want to like these characters more than anything in the world, so I came in hopeful, but incredibly nervous.
The heroes needed to be done well, and they most certainly are. The main cast of heroes all steal the show from time to time and are able to bring quite a bit to this film individually, as well as working terrifically as a group. Ezra Miller shines the brightest as The Flash, mostly because he is able to infuse the comedic elements of the script very effectively while also having the coolest action scenes in the movie.
Aside from Miller, Gal Gadot is great once again as Wonder Woman. Her character is something that is beautifully crafted and fantastic to watch, and I love the added leadership she seems to have in this film. Jason Mamoa is very good as Aquaman, though he took a bit longer for me to fully fall in love with him, and Ray Fisher is surprisingly great as Cyborg. Fisher’s the one I was most skeptical about coming in, but I thought he gave a great performance and was crucial to the team as a whole, both in performance and what his character was required to do.
The action scenes, as to be expected, are the best moments of the film, as Zack Snyder and cinematographer Fabian Wagner, who also worked on “Game of Thrones” most well-shot episode, “The Battle of the Bastards,” really bring these moments of conflict to light and make each character feel important to the overall picture. Of course, it is Miller zipping around everywhere that is the most enjoyable to watch, but there is also loads of enjoyment from the remaining members, especially when they work together.
While not perfect, it was nice to see a more lighthearted film from DC, and a lot of that is likely from the added help from Joss Whedon, who co-wrote the script. Whedon takes what he did so well at Marvel and brings a lot of that into this film. There are a good amount of comedic moments that land, especially when it is Miller saying them, and it made the experience, as a whole, more enjoyable than some of their other past attempts.
This is going to start with more of a disappointment than a bad, because I do think Ben Affleck’s performance is pretty good overall, but his character is way less entertaining than in “BvS.” Of course, he has his moments, and I like his change of heart from the previous film, but I don’t think the quips and jokes he tries to make land well at all. Also, with this much firepower around him, Batman just falls to the back of scenes and feels almost entirely unnecessary which, whether that’s the point or not, was something I didn’t love seeing.
The two-hour runtime was a questionable choice from the beginning, and after seeing the finished product, yeah, it’s too short. Snyder has to jam in a ton of exposition, character development, and a brand new villain all into the first hour or so, and it felt very rushed. For the first time, and probably the last, I actually wish Snyder took more screen time to really get into all of these characters and story arcs that are so quickly glossed over, as it would have made for an even more epic conclusion.
Speaking of villains, Steppenwolf is brutally average. Yeah yeah yeah, we get it, you want to take over the world or whatever, who doesn’t these days? But seriously, this dude has absolutely no personality to him, while also being a big CGI mess who is remarkably forgettable and there’s really no single moment that made me understand what his motive is.
This may seem like a bit of a reach, but once I noticed it, I couldn’t look away. I won’t discuss Henry Cavill’s role, as that is too spoiler-y for this review, but he is in this film, and I like the role that he played. However, Cavill had a mustache throughout the reshoots of this film that was removed using CGI, and the editing out of said mustache is brutally noticeable. Scenes with this edit are jarring to say the least, and it made Cavill’s mouth looked computer generated which was both uncomfortable and annoying at the same time.
“Justice League” has a great central cast, and that often makes up for some heavy shortcomings when it comes to plot or exposition. The action scenes border on tremendous, the chemistry between the group is well-executed, and the new comedic flair helps lighten the mood in dark scenes. However, there are still quite a few issues with the film, as it should have been longer to give time for development, especially with its’ very lackluster villain, and I think there are a lot of moments here and there that felt like they could have been tweaked just a tad to make a truly great movie. But, as it stands “Justice League” is strides ahead of “Suicide Squad,” and I think it manages to be more entertaining than “BvS,” but it still doesn’t reach the heights that it should, making it a mildly entertaining, but mildly disappointing entry in the DC canon.
What did you think of “Justice League”? Comment below with your thoughts.