It’s finally here, after years of waiting and many nights spent chanting “please don’t suck” in front of my Superman shrine (not a creepy shrine, it’s very tasteful), the Justice League movie is here, and it would seem that all that time spent praying has paid off, because it doesn’t suck, in fact it’s awesome. Yes, while he may have been late to the game it seems that Joss Whedon is the Rumpelstiltskin of nerd culture, able to spin gold from the shit that was Dawn of Justice.(“Don’t worry my children, I am here now.”)
The plot takes place not long after the death of Superman, the world has begun to lose hope, mankind is turning on itself and all seems bleak. With the world left without it’s protector, a powerful alien enemy known as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) invades with an army of extra-terrestrial flying jerks. They are searching for the three ancient Mother Boxes (totally not the tesseract) that have been scattered across Earth and if brought together will give him power over mankind, or make him a real boy, it’s hard to tell, it’s got kind of a Dues Ex Machina vibe to it.
Okay, before we go any further I just want to assure everyone this will be a spoiler free review, except for one that has already been spoiled by TV spots, movie posters, merchandise, it’s heavily hinted at in the trailer and in fact he is credited on IMDB (not to mention his name is the first that we see on the opening scene), so with that in mind, Superman is back. Normally I wouldn’t even chance bringing it up, but I have to because we now finally have definitive proof that Henry Cavil is a great Superman.
The problem with Zack Snyder’s version of a dark, brooding man of steel is that it undoes a lot of what makes Superman such a great character, his boundless optimism and belief in humanity are what make him a beacon of hope (and not a moping dick). That’s why it was so great to see Cavil bringing those qualities across in his performance, seeing him have fun with the team and cracking jokes made the character come to life, unlike in the previous movies were we’re constantly assured he is this beacon of hope, here we get to see it.(I’m glad they decided to forgo the mullet!)
The rest of the cast where excellent as well, it will come as a surprise to no-one that Gal Gadot delivered yet another amazing performance as Wonder Woman. I was worried that she might get relegated to 2nd stringer when the whole team came together, but thankfully that wasn’t the case, she is integral to the team and I would go so far as to say the heart of the Justice League.
Ezra Miller as The Flash provided the majority of the comic relief, always ready to lighten the mood, anytime the pace threatened to slow down, Miller would rush in with a joke to keep things moving. Also, and this may only be my interpretation of the character, but I liked the way he was portrayed as socially awkward and nervous, and that in turn being explained by everyone else “moving too slowly”, an interesting take on the character.(“Do I get Flasharangs?”)
Jason Momoa was clearly having the most fun ever playing Aquaman as a badass force of nature, and it’s a sense of fun shared by the audience. Momoa naturally exudes this “I don’t give a damn” attitude and he puts all of that energy in his portrayal of Aquaman who has always had the “if it’s on the land it’s not my problem mentality”.
I do feel that Victor Stone a.k.a Cyborg (Ray Fisher) didn’t get enough fleshing out (if you’ll pardon the phrasing) for my liking, I was pleased that the backstory was brief, but I felt there was room for a little more character development. What we do get to see however is great, Fisher captures the character’s personality perfectly, intelligent, reserved but at the same time warm and human.
“But what of Batman?”, I hear you cry, well, as hard as it is to admit this, as I am a fan of Batfleck, I had mixed feelings about him in Justice league, on the one hand it’s great to see Batman as the master tactician, fully aware of his shortcomings against such a powerful enemy and playing to his strengths, planning, strategy and grapple hooking his way to victory. On the other hand, Affleck delivered a somewhat lack lustre performance, he was by no means bad and there were some truly classic Batman esq moments that Affleck nailed, but on the whole, he seemed disinterested.(“I’m Bat-Wayne….I mean Bruce-Man….Fuck!”)
But it’s not just the characters that have gotten better, the sound design has also improved, you know, I feel like I’m talking more and more about sound & music when it comes to cinematic reviews and that’s no bad thing, a great musical score can make or break a movie/scene and the Justice League is no exception. The score was outstanding, (not Thor: Ragnarok level, but up there), and to whom ever had the fantastic idea of putting in the classic Batman theme in the Gotham scenes, I salute you.
I do have one or two small issues with the Justice League movie, for example the special effects, they were by no means awful, in fact for the most part they were amazing, especially the scenes in Gotham with Batman, it was like a comic book had come to life, but certain scenes looked quite bad. In fact, there is one scene when Superman is fighting, and I could’ve sworn that they cut in footage from that god-awful Injustice 2 game.
Now, the reason this isn’t a huge issue is because when Zack Snyder had to step down, Joss Whedon was brought in to finish things up and as I understand it he reshot quite a few scenes in a hurry and given his track record I’m sure they’re for the better, but they do stand out.
My last complaint is about the character of Steppenwolf, while he’s not a terrible villain and he does serve the purpose of uniting the Justice League he is a perfectly forgettable supervillain. There was no charm to the character, nothing noteworthy, just generic bad guy #367, I know DC are probably keeping the best villains for upcoming movies, but I feel they could have done a little better in this one.
It’s good to see that DC have learned from the success of Wonder Woman and are continuing the course correction with each movie, fleshing out their characters more and delivering a fun and entertaining story. Justice League really feels like a comic book movie, yes there are many out there, but this one finds the line between serious and silly and walks it perfectly, just like any great comic book.