DC Films’ fifth film brings the team together at last. After being teased throughout 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince bring on Victor Stone, Barry Allen and Arthur Curry to combat an otherworldly threat. How does it fare?
So I have expressed myself in the past as someone who feels very positive about DC’s film slate. I adore Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and really like Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman is a treasure of film and so I expected to like Justice League as well.
And like it I did.
That’s not to say that there aren’t a couple of negatives to go along with my positives.
On the plus side, Justice League really plays like a big Saturday morning cartoon with action galore. I just had a blast watching these heroes do their superhero thing. There was, however a downside to this. It played like a filler episode of the Justice League/Unlimited series (which I highly recommend if you’ve never seen it). The story itself is pretty thin with a villain in Steppenwolf who is nothing special of an antagonist. He’s a little more interesting than Suicide Squad’s Enchantress and even Wonder Woman’s Ares, But to me doesn’t hold a candle to Lex Luthor or General Zod.
The film has a very obvious tonal shift that reflects the displeasure people had with Batman v Superman. While I think Justice League was always going to be a lighter film, you can tell they really tried to be lighter. As a result, aside from mentioning the death of Superman, it doesn’t quite feel as connected to those prior films. And for that I am a little disappointed. There was an operatic grandeur to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman that I felt was lost. Yet I hope that these changes allow more people to enjoy these movies. Personally I wish it felt more in line with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, if they wanted to move away from Snyder’s ideal vision. The film runs 2 hours which makes it pretty accessible, but I wished to have a little more time to enjoy the team, which is what makes the movie enjoyable for me.
The Justice League itself is the best thing about the film. The character interactions are great and the cast is fantastic. Gal Gadot continues to be the star of these films with her portrayal of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. She is the ultimate warrior and sometimes reluctant which sort of answers a loose thread from BvS that we weren’t sure of once Wonder Woman was released.
Ben Affleck continues to play Bruce Wayne atoning for his actions. The performance might be a little on the nose, but for me it does highlight the obsessive nature Bruce exhibits. Only now it’s the opposite. Instead of determining he needs to kill Superman he wants to save the world to honor his memory, to make up for his mistakes.
Ezra Miller plays a rookie Barry Allen who is learning how to be a hero. Miller might be the next focus of DC like Gadot. His humor on the team will play a bigger role as his character grows more confident.
Jason Momoa plays a loner type Arthur Curry who has no problem saying what he’s feeling and it adds a great dynamic to the team (there’s also a hilarious moment with him before the final battle).
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg was actually one of my favorite things character related. His initial coldness and subsequent warming up to the team was a nice little arc as he wants to hold onto his humanity.
It was great having Amy Adams and Diane Lane back as Lois Lane and Martha Kent. Sadly with the runtime being 2 hours we don’t get much time with them and they don’t play that big a role in the events of the film.
Oh and Henry Cavill, is in fact in the movie. I don’t want to spoil anything else, but aside from a questionable production decision, I think people are going to be happy. His presence is felt throughout. He’s my favorite Superman. I just had to get that out there.
Justice League isn’t the best superhero film out there. No it doesn’t reach the heights of The Avengers, but as popcorn movies goes, it’s better than most. Despite having little to no plot with a weak villain, it soars thanks to its heroes who do carry the load. I do wonder that if Zack Snyder hadn’t stepped away to deal with a family tragedy, how things would have turned out. But for this DC Comics fan, I have a movie with superhero action that I can just watch along with 2 others that are among my favorites. I just wished it connected a bit more with those favorites of mine.
Final Rating: 3/4