"Justice League" flies high in the second half
We’ve come to the end of a year filled with some pretty great superhero movies, including DC’s “Wonder Woman” and, most recently, Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”
But “Justice League” is the movie I’ve been waiting my whole life for.
I'll readily admit my bias towards this film: I grew up as a big fan of Batman and the Flash, and I will admit that I’m one of the few that does not completely hate “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It has its flaws, yes, but it’s not all bad. And with the release of the critically acclaimed “Wonder Woman” this summer, I had some hope for “Justice League.” Despite how underwhelming the trailers were, I did make an effort to keep an open mind as I went into this.
In “Justice League,” Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) recruits, with the assistance of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), some super cool and superpowered people for a super team in the effort to halt an advancing alien threat: Steppenwolf. The CGI villain, voiced by Ciarán Hinds, is looking for three boxes that will help him destroy the world. With the help of Wonder Woman, Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and super-butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Batman jumps into action to—you guessed it—save the world.
“What are your superpowers again?”
“Justice League” took a while to get interesting. The first half of the film brought to mind some of the reasons I didn’t love “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” A great portion of it was too slow in setting up the story. Often, the film cut choppily back in forth through each main character’s backstory for the film.
This could have been avoided if there'd been origin movies for some of the characters (namely Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg), like Marvel's Avengers.
And when the pace of the film wasn’t being dragged on by flashbacks, it had overly CGI action scenes that felt far too close to a video game—not just due to the cheap-looking CGI, but even in how it was shot, including the obsessive use of panning from action to action. Add on the fact that the Amazonians are now wearing significantly smaller outfits since the “Wonder Woman” movie, it felt like I was watching someone play a video game. It was quite problematic that the armor of these strong women was reduced to bikinis in this film. Wonder Woman’s outfits are also noticeably more revealing, including her armor, but Gal Gadot is still amazing in the role.
I’m also a firm believer in the saying “A hero is only as good as his villain,” and to be quite frank, the villain in this film, Steppenwolf, is kind of embarrassingly awful. For one thing, he looks like a cheesy video game character due to the unfortunately bad CGI. He’s dull and unmemorable. There’s no personal connection to him. He has one goal—to obtain something called “mother boxes.” That’s all he wants. He has these weird alien-bug-looking creatures by his side. Those were kind of cool, I guess. It reminded me of the Chitauri in “Avengers,” which then reminded me of how great of a villain Loki was in that—which then reminded me about how great Loki is in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
While the first half was a bit of a snooze, I actually genuinely enjoyed moments throughout the film, particularly the second half. The rest of the movie was satisfying for me as a DC Comics fan. It ended up becoming the DC equivalent of what I think is one of the best superhero movies, “Avengers.”
I credit this to the addition of Joss Whedon, considering he’s listed as a screenwriter. When Zack Snyder had to step down from finishing the film due to a family emergency, Joss Whedon came on to finish directing. He ended up rewriting and reshooting enough to earn credit as a screenwriter. It’s sort of obvious which scenes are his. Some things look rushed but have charming dialogue that resembles much of his work.
The ensemble cast is brilliant. I think each actor is perfect in the role. I was very skeptical over the casting of Ezra Miller as the Flash. I was afraid fans would all be too attached to Grant Gustin in the role on The CW’s “The Flash,” but the portrayals aren’t comparable. They’re both great in their own rights. Miller gives a charmingly geeky portrayal of the character that is very endearing and a breath of fresh air in the usually dark DC universe.
I think Gal Gadot was born for the role of Wonder Woman, and I like the new takes on Aquaman and Cyborg. I really hope Ben Affleck stays in the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne for future films because I think he’s the first actor to truly capture the essence of the character.
*Mild spoiler* Once our favorite S-emblazoned, red-caped hero came onto the scene, the movie shifted for the better. Clark is just as good at saving movie plot lines as he is at saving the world.
Justice is served.
There are some great action sequences in this movie. There are great character interactions and dialogue.
“Justice League” could have been better.
Although the film was expensive to make, I kept wondering why the CGI was so frustratingly bad, despite its monstrous budget. I wondered why I felt like I was watching someone play a video game for a too-long portion of the film. Somehow, this movie managed to feel slow, yet hurried.
Even so, my small frustrations are endurable because the superheroes are just that great. They don’t disappoint. Honestly, I'd sit through a boring backstory of Steppenwolf if it meant getting to see my favorite DC heroes unite to save the day together.
All of that said, if you're not a fan of DC Comics, you won’t be a fan of this movie. But if you’re a fan of the Justice League heroes, you will likely be a fan of the movie.
Reminder: Stick around until the very end—there are two post-credit scenes worth waiting for.
Rated: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi violence and action) and a little language
Runtime: 110 minutes