‘Justice League’ Film Review

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Justice League is a 2017 superhero and comic book film that sees the titular team on the big screen for the first time. The film stars, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, J. K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Diane Lane and Connie Nielsen. Written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon and directed by Zack Snyder, the film sees Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman assembling the super hero team in order to stop Steppenwolf from gathering the three Mother Boxes and destroying the earth.

This film is  far more cohesive than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (even the extended cut) and Suicide Squad. It’s fairly simple and not overly convoluted. It’s just about getting the heroes together, bringing back Superman and stopping Steppenwolf. That’s it.

The return of Superman fits very well into the narrative of the film and makes a lot of sense. It unfolds from the story naturally and doesn’t feel shoehorned in, forced or like an ass pull. It was quite cleverly done.

It also sets up the films that will follow it – the solo films for The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg in particular – in a way that isn’t glaringly obvious that that is what it’s trying to do. Something that, for the most part, Marvel has as yet been unable to do. Justice League succeeded in generating a great deal of excitement for the new heroes’ solo films, but also for the further adventures of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Despite having about forty-five minutes of it removed, it’s surprisingly well paced. It never feels like it’s speeding through story and plot, but the character moments in between the action sequences do feel rather slow at times and a drag on a little. It doesn’t help that a lot of that is due to some infodumping here and there through heavily expository dialogue.

The flashback to the previous war between Steppenwolf and his Parademons and the alliance between Men, Amazons, Atlanteans, Gods and [SPOILER; Highlight to reveal] Green Lanterns [SPOILER], was the biggest infodump and the fact that it was entirely narrated, the longest example of heavily expository dialogue. Another glaring moment in which both occurred was the conversation between Mera and Aquaman in Atlantis. That scene could have been a lot tighter and concise. The exposition was unnecessary and added nothing.

The film opened strong with Batman squaring off with a Parademon and all of the subsequent action sequences were impressive. The most awesome, perhaps, was the one that followed the opening sequence and was previewed in the trailer; Wonder Woman stopping the bank heist. The highlight of which  was Wonder Woman deflecting bullets from an automatic weapon with her gauntlets.

The final action sequence, in which the Justice League faced off against Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons, while fun and exciting had a fairly anti-climactic ending. Furthermore, the human element in the fight just didn’t work and fell flat. How the human element was incorporated was nonsensical.

The six members of the Justice League worked together fairly well. Affleck, Gadot, Cavill, Miller, Momoa and Fisher had good chemistry and bounced off of each other in a way that made the burgeoning relationship between them believable.

Superman and Batman are a lot lighter here than they are in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. They weren’t super serious and broody and it was very refreshing. Affleck continues to perform well in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Cavill has never been better or had as much charisma as Clark Kent/Superman. For the first time the romance between Clark and Lois was believable and didn’t feel like it existed just because it does in the comics.

Diana has an interesting ac in the film and is pretty much the only character who has one. Her arc is two fold and it makes sense that her character would go in the direction that it did coming off of both Batman v Superman and Wonder Woman. She has things that she needs to come to terms with and, for the most part, she does by the end of the film. There were some moments in which Gadot’s acting was not so good, but overall she was fine.

Wonder Woman is unnecessarily objectified in some shots, especially her behind, though, and the more skimpily dressed Amazons stand out incredibly since the other Amazons have similar or the same costumes that they did in Wonder Woman and are just as covered up as they were there. So it begs the question why those Amazons are dressed so differently from their sisters since their dress was so uniform in the Wonder Woman film. As some have said, Wonder Woman and the Amazons’ treatment here really shows the difference between male and female directors when it comes to female characters.

The portrayal of The Flash was fun. The way that his power was presented looked great, although he has a funny, gangly, run. The portrayal of Barry, however, was very weird and not in an endearing way. He’s supposed to be the comic relief character and at times he is and it’s done perfectly. The rest of the time he’s just awkward. He’s supposed to be; he’s the socially awkward nerd. But it doesn’t come together. He’s not unlikeable but he’s not likeable either.

At points he hits a sweet spot where the film isn’t trying to make him funny or awkward and he’s just fine. Ezra Miller is a phenomenal actor – which he proved in We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower – but here his performance is subpar. Hopefully he does better in the Flash solo film.

Aquaman was perhaps the biggest surprise in terms of the new characters. From the glimpses we got of him in the trailers, Aquaman could have gone either way. Thankfully, the interpretation of him in this film was well done. He’s a lot of fun and very likeable. Jason Momoa has such a charismatic presence and personality that he brings to the character that makes him shine. He was just playing himself, more or less, and Momoa is a cool, personable dude.

There wasn’t much to expect of Cyborg from the trailers. He’s the most broody character in the film. He’s kind of boring, didn’t stand out much or make an impression. He’s there and doesn’t do much outside of the action sequences. Even there he doesn’t do much either. He has a very specific function and that is just hacking alien technology.

The green screen in this film is absolutely terrible and its present in so many shots. Some of which may have been reshoots since in many scenes in which it is present, every single shot is so clearly and obviously shot on a green screen. It’s not seamless at all. It’s very noticeable  and distractingly so. To the point that it’s hard to concentrate on what is going on in the scene. Other uses of visual effects in the film are somewhat better, but still not great.

Before Wonder Woman a film in the DC Extended Universe didn’t need to do much in order to be the best of the franchise. After that film, it takes a lot more to do just that. Although from a film-making standpoint, Justice League does not excel like that film does, it’s a lot more fun and enjoyable. It’s a step in the right direction for DC.

It can be said that it borrows from Marvel a little too much – it has Joss Whedon after all – and is trying a little too hard to match it’s lighter tone and DC does lose some of it’s identity in the process, but in doing so it made a much more entertaining film than the others in the franchise. So entertaining in fact, that many of its flaws can be overlooked.

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About The Author

An avid reader who accidentally discovered her love and talent for writing and has loved movies for as long as she has been watching them. Stumbled into film-making and found her second love because she decided to read for a degree in it on a whim - kind of.