Review – Justice League (2017)

by Kevin Muller

The anticipation of Detective Comics’, or D.C.’s, top tier of heroes coming together is something  that just isn’t felt by fans of the comics, but also anyone who has been following the development of this project. In 2013, Zack Synder was put in charge of directing the starting point for the D.C. universe, Man of Steel. That film was a success and was followed by the even more successful, but awful,  Suicide Squad. In the same year we were also given the match up comic book fans have been waiting for with the underwhelming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though it was Wonder Woman that acted as a gleam of light for the universe.  Anchored by an incredible performance by Gal Gadot, it became both a financial and critical success. Synder was hard at work on his vision of Justice League when tragedy struck him and his family with the death of his daughter.   Joss Whedon, who had experience dealing with a group of heroes with the first two “The Avengers,” was brought on to finish about 20% of the film Synder had left unfinished.   Then there were rumors that Whedon was specifically brought on to change the tone of the Sydner’s vision of this film and future DC films by adding the lightness and humor missing from Batman  V Superman: Dawn of Justice. So, with all that, how does a hybrid of two different styles pan out?   Does it work or does it destroy the leg up  Wonder Woman contributed?

It isn’t terrible. It is way better than Suicide Squad in a way that it has a coherent story. The story is very simple but does abide by the three act structure. Basically, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince are trying to put together a team to battle a powerful and evil force that is heading towards Earth. They are specifically looking at three special people with powerful abilities, but only one really bites. That would be Barry Allen, aka The Flash, who takes the job because he wants to be a part of something. Arthur Curry, Aquaman, and Victor Stone, Cyborg, take a little more convincing to join. The threat comes in the form of Steppenwolf, who is collecting powerful boxes that will give him full and unlimited power.

The power of the film, and its saving grace, are the actors in the cast. Each of them are so good that you wish they had a better script and story behind them. Gadot, who was the lesser known of the actors at the time of the conception of this universe, has become the heart and soul of it. As in Wonder Woman she gives her both an intensity and vulnerability that makes her feel more human than a partial God. Whedon’s comic flair is felt through Allen, who is played by Ezra Miller. Miller really makes you feel that his nervous energy is as powerful as the one that makes him lightning fast. Momoa, who is best remembered from his time on Game of Thrones adds a touch of rock and roll to Aquaman. Then there is Affleck, who seems to be on his way out soon, who still plays worthy Batman, but not anywhere near what he got in the Dark Knight Trilogy. It really isn’t his fault, since this universe is built on only spectacle, and not the deep themes that Nolan injected into his comic book world. The heavy editing is definitely felt through the character of Cyborg. While the character is powerful, you can feel conflict of the how the character has lost almost his entire humanity. It is something that Synder definitely was going to explore but was cut out for time constraints. It is Cavill who is given a new direction as Superman. In Man of Steel and BvS, he was a morally complex character with a dark side,  something that isn’t true to the character, even though I personally dug the vision. Good news for all you Superman lovers, Cavill perfectly captures the heroic, bold, good, and all American version of the man of steel. Let’s hope he stays on with this role because it does look promising.

The movie loses its composure in almost all other parts. First off, the force that the team faces, Steppenwolf, has to be one of the worst CGI creations to appear on screen in years..maybe decades. You would think of a big budget film that has been in development for over 20 years, they would spend a bit of dough to make the big baddy look good. Nope, the animation looks like something out of the 90’s. Many parts of the movie make it seems like this thing should’ve been the hottest film of 1997. The decision for DC to basically give us the big team up, so early in the franchise’s, creates an imbalance in the league. While we know fully who Diana, Wonder Woman, is and how she fights for purely good, the other new characters aren’t as fleshed out. Yes, they are getting their own films but it would be better if we knew a little more of who they were. Again, Cyborg’s journey seems like it would be interesting to watch with Fischer having the right stuff to show us that conflict, but he is replaced with an overabundance of CGI, cheesy humor, and a story that seems to be rushed. The final battle is one you’ve seen a dozen times before;  the opposing force to our heroes is stationed with the control center in the middle of the all the action. They all must work together to take down the tall structure and save the world from destruction. Even though the colors are pretty, the action fast, and the thrills a plenty, you can’t help to feel you’ve seen it all before.   

Yes, there are two credit sequences.  One fully establishes the change of tone that the series will have from this point forward, and the other shows the next opposing force for the gang. The next baddie is one, if done right, can really add something new to a rogues gallery for villains who are overpowered beings. The movie is a good time, but you can’t help to feel that a franchise that has been through so many different directors and toyed with for years, deserved better.   


I am giving Justice League a 3 out of 5 Hair Pieces!

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