MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Justice League’

This team-up helps right the ship after 'BvS', but at a cost to its own storytelling.

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Fabian Wagner
WRITERS: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
MUSIC: Danny Elfman

“Justice League” has plenty of problems that definitely expose its troubled production history. It has dodgy special-effects, the tone is all over the place and some characters are short-changed by the script. The biggest disappointment for the film, though, is that it has to act more as damage control for DC’s film franchise during its first half before finally giving us a team-up movie in the second half.

This includes telling six stories that all should have been fully developed solo films long before getting to the first Justice League film. The filmmakers have to set up Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) before getting to the point. This is why, despite decent performances, I did feel that Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot got a little short-changed in the writing department despite both actors giving confident performances.

The next problem is the aforementioned dodgy special-effects, such as overusing the green screen and covering up a certain actor’s mustache. For those in the know about the stache, you can tell. For those not in the know, watch the film and see if you can just guess who it is because I’ll bet that you can.

Finally, the film’s uneven tone shows a script that went through several rewrites. At certain moments, I can recognize Zack Snyder’s darker influence. In other moments, I can tell when co-writer Joss Whedon stepped in to lighten the mood.

Now, the film has a lot of problems, but ultimately, I must say that I quite enjoyed myself. Despite the overuse of special-effects, the film’s second half is its strongest due to the fact that we finally get to the film showing all of our favorite DC heroes together at last. Also, I can say that at least there is a comprehensible story at the center of it all to carry us through.

In this film, the villain is Steppenwolf, an alien from beyond our world that is summoned here by the activation of three Mother Boxes. Soon, he begins tracking down the Boxes so that he can reunite them and bring about the planet’s total destruction. Only our recently united heroes can bring him down.

The villain is okay, but like most villains in superhero films, he doesn’t really have much to do except carry out his nefarious plot. Both DC and Marvel films share this one common weakness as Steppenwolf is pretty forgettable. Seriously… I don’t know what else to say about him.

The film ultimately culminates with a third act that most definitely delivers a big climactic action sequence. It works because all of our heroes, including a recently revived Superman (Henry Cavill), have finally joined together to take down Steppenwolf. There is even a moment where both Superman and the Flash head out to rescue civilians.

So, did I like “Justice League”? Absolutely. Did I love “Justice League”? Sadly, no. Ultimately, it did its best to right the ship that was knocked off course by “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and it at least succeeded on that level. I just wish it could have been a team-up film that had been earned after its characters had been established in other solo films.

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