In order to combat the ever-growing fortunes of Marvel’s and Disney’s cinematic universe, DC and Warner Bros. have been trying to strike gold with their own heroes and villains. The results have been highly mixed, with Wonder Woman being the sole movie receiving universal acclaim while the other entries have garnered mixed, or overwhelmingly negative reviews. The initial reaction to Justice League would make it seem like absolute garbage, especially in light of a 40% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. While the movie does have its shortcomings, it’s not the can of worms its described to be, especially given what the movie tries to establish, the Justice League.
Serving as the counterpart to The Avengers, Justice League is essentially a recruitment movie. We watch Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince put the pieces together to fight an imminent threat in the form of the almost omnipotent Steppenwolf and his Parademons, a threat contained in the past but now on the verge of returning following Superman’s demise.
Steppenwolf makes his return in due time, trying to collect devices known as the Mother Boxes, of which there are three. Once he collects all of them, held separately by the Amazonians, Humans, and Atlantians, he will be able to conquer Earth after his long hiatus. Typical comic book stuff.
Bruce Wayne, sensing that shit’s about to hit the fan, decides to warn Diana (Wonder Woman, that is) about the impending doom. She’s only galvanized into action when word of Steppenwolf’s invasion of her home, Themyscira, reaches her.
At this point, it’s critical to mention one of the absolute highlights of the film, the Amazonian women. Steppenwolf decides to steal a Mother Box from an army of highly trained, athletic women in battle armor. This is an area where action sequences will never veer into the generic since it isn’t often that audiences get to see an army of women in combat using swords, bows, arrows, and lassos. How often do you get to see CrossFit Superstar Brook Ence hold up a falling wall like a Greek demigod? Not often. So the inclusion of the Amazonians in the first act of the film is a noteworthy feature and livens up the now monotonous library of comic book action sequences.
Back to the story, it’s necessary to point out that Justice League is paced differently because some of the characters, Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), haven’t had their own feature films in the DC universe. Fleshing out their stories becomes a vital component because of that in order to answer the question, “Why are they needed to be in the Justice League?” Without much delay, we realize exactly why. Flash’s speed, Aquaman’s water-bending, and Cyborg’s “I can do anything with computers and fly like Superman” abilities justify their presence in this installment. It’s a slow start, but a much-needed start to put some meat into the bone of this skeletal franchise.
While some films don’t work on a holistic level, their ability to get a few things right can sometimes counteract the components that fail. With Justice League, the mere introduction of the new characters was good enough to overcome the ills. The second comes in the form of a returning character, conspicuously hidden in the trailers since his comeback was predicted at the end of Batman v. Superman. We all know who it is. The manner of his revival does create some chaos and seeing how his entry alters the social dynamics within the group of superheroes was quite refreshing.
On to the final roundup, the change in tone for the film was very evident. Justice League isn’t drenched in melodrama like its predecessor. Joss Whedon’s entry towards the final stages of shooting to replace Zack Snyder did infuse some light-hearted moments, using Miller’s Flash as the main vehicle. The humor isn’t as witty or incisive as it is in the Marvel Universe, but that’s because the chemistry and history among the characters need to be developed over some more films (hopefully).
Snyder’s use of a highly saturated display does create a very vivid comic book feel for the movie and that could be something that irks many viewers. But since it’s a movie based on a comic book, why complain in the first place? A comic book adaptation will be hyperbolic and exaggerated in its presentation, so the departure from reality to steep the picture in strong, rich colors is a unique distinguisher for the DC films.
At this point in time, it’s a given that the DC movies, or most comic book movies, are going to be packed with CGI effects, mostly to populate the action sequences. Justice League is no different, with the final act resorting to cliched action sequences. Thankfully, the Amazonians in the beginning and the returning character at the climax liven up the action and offer some refreshing scenes.
- Amazonians are awesome. Brooke Ence is awesome. Crossfit is probably awesome.
- Funnier than the previous DC Cinematic movies combined.
- Maybe excluding Wonder Woman.
- The returning character halfway through does alter the group dynamic and we realize that our heroes have some new superpowers (or ones we weren’t aware of since we didn’t read the comic books)
- There are 2 cut scenes at the end, probably courtesy of Joss Whedon, laying the trajectory for future Justice League movies (very Marvel-esque in that sense).
If you like our Justice League review, take a look at our other Sci-Fi posts.
Movie Info (From The Hollywood Reporter)
Production companies: Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Ingvar Sigurdsson, David Thewlis, Sergi Constance
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriters: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon; story by Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder
Producers: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns
Executive producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Jim Rowe, Ben Affleck, Wendy Coller, Curtis Kanemoto, Daniel S. Kaminsky, Chris Terrio
Director of photography: Fabian Wagner
Production designer: Patrick Tatopoulos
Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson
Editors: David Brenner, Richard Pearson, Martin Walsh
Music: Danny Elfman
Visual effects supervisor: John “JD” DesJardin
Casting: Kristy Carlson, Lora Kennedy, Kate Ringsell
Rated PG-13, 121 minutes