"Justice League" Review
After directing the disappointing and critically panned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder has returned with interim director Joss Whedon to make DC’s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers. Unfortunately, this film reeks of desperation to be lighter than BvS and also keep the high intensity of Man of Steel. The film gets neither of these right and what we are left with is a film that is more annoying than funny and more melodramatic than intense. Apart from the awful Suicide Squad, this the laziest and most disappointing superhero team-up film to have come out in this new age of high-quality comic films.
Evil has begun to invade Earth since the “death” of Superman. Both Batman and Wonder Woman have been trying to make sense of what exactly is going on and what it all means. They find out that the source of this evil is from the villain Steppenwolf, who has come to Earth in search of three Mother Boxes that hold almost unlimited power. Combining all three will unleash apocalyptic power that will destroy all life on Earth. Batman and Wonder Woman must quickly the remaining heroes and create a team to stop Steppenwolf’s plan for world destruction.
While having a very simple plot, Justice League is still very hard to follow. It’s easy to understand on a basic level, but hard to comprehend any deeper because of horrendous editing and dull exposition. The plot is also underdeveloped in many key areas, specifically the introductions of the new heroes. Aquaman and Cyborg are barely given any backstory and are very one-dimensional characters. They each behave the same way throughout the film and don’t give me any confidence that their future standalone films will be pleasant to watch. The Flash is given a moderately good story, but his character is so extremely annoying that I didn’t care at all about him. A whole film around him is something I never want to see, but unfortunately, we will get in 2020.
Steppenwolf is also one of the worst on-screen comic book villains in recent memory. He is very one dimensional and doesn’t have a single memorable trait as all he talks about is death and how is superior to humans. He feels like an eighties cartoon villain that should never have been considered for DC’s biggest film. There is also the problem that he looks like a cross between a billy goat and a dead tree.
Interim director Joss Whedon came aboard the project after Snyder left in order to deal with personal family issues. His goal was to lighten up the film with more humor and boy does he miss the mark. His attempts at comedy through one-liners go over horribly and make the film feel so disconnected from the previous DCEU films. You can’t go from the serious Man of Steel and BvS to this and expect things to feel like they are part of one big narrative.
For a film that had an almost $300 million budget, the money was not used well on the technical aspects. The cinematography, editing, and visual effects are some of the worst I have seen in a big budget film. The camera is never in the right place during a fight scene and the editing is overly quick. A one minute fight looks as if it had fifty cuts and makes the whole thing disorientating and unbearable to watch. The CGI is substandard, especially for characters like Cyborg and Steppenwolf that both rely heavily on visual effects for their look. Both of them can’t be taken seriously as they look extremely fake. Aquaman’s underwater battle sequence also looked startlingly bad, which makes me worried about his standalone film that will take place completely underwater.
The fight choreography is also uninspiring and is recycled from previous films as Wonder Woman literally does the same moves from her solo film. She smashes her bracelets together every time she's getting beat and immediately starts winning again. This happens three or four times and each time it gets more and more boring to watch. By the time the final battle comes along you’ve already seen all the moves that are going to be done.
The acting overall is bad and every returning character has gotten worse since the last time we saw them. Batman isn’t cool anymore and never lets up on how old he is. The one thing nobody needs is a Batman that tells jokes. Affleck couldn’t look more bored and tired of playing this character. I feel ashamed to have said that I liked Affleck’s Batman better than Bale’s after watching BvS.
Gal Gadot does a pretty good job reprising Wonder Woman but is still underwhelming compared to how she was in her standalone film. She doesn’t feel like the leader of the team and doesn’t interact well with any of the other heroes.
Jason Momoa portrays Aquaman just like his character Khal Drogo on Game of the Thrones. He’s buff and over manly, but isn’t exciting to watch or listen to since he never really does anything interesting except throw his trident from time to time.
Cyborg is barely present in the film and is not played that well by stage actor Ray Fisher. He’s too grim all the time and is tonally way different than the other versions of the character we are used to. There isn’t much to remember him by and overall it’s questionable if he even should have been in the movie, let alone get his own future film.
Last and definitely least is Ezra Miller as The Flash. He is downright annoying and immediately ruins any scene he is in. His jokes, relatability, and action scenes are just plain bad. The perfectly adequate Grant Gustin should have been cast instead as he has proved on television he can make The Flash both funny and emotional.
The DCEU is now zero for five when it comes to adapting its heroes to the big screen and have astonishingly gotten worse as time has progressed. This film had everything going wrong for it and gives me no confidence that any of the future standalone films will be good. I expect to write every year how DC still hasn’t been able to make good superhero films in a cinematic universe.