Well, the good news is that it’s not as offensively bad as the mess that was Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the bad news is that it’s still not that good. With an assist from Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder’s superhero slog Justice League is thankfully a lighter, brighter film than his previous efforts (though it’s still chock full of his trademark lifeless CGI). What it lacks in charm it makes up for in bombast. It’s not terrible, it’s just, you know, kind of there.
The movie takes entirely too long to get started, the first three hours of the movie (relax, it’s only two total) is spent gathering the troops, with an endless number of scenes that don’t amount to much beyond AVENGERS ASSEMBLE… but, you know, DC’s version. The troops: Jason Momoa’s breezy, boozy Aquaman, Ezra Miller’s quirky, quippy Flash, and Ray Fisher’s brooding Cyborg, because someone always has to be brooding. Rallied by Ben Affleck’s dull Bruce Wayne/Batman and the movie’s solid center Gal Gadot returning as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Eventually Henry Cavill’s Superman returns, which was kind of foreshadowed by the posters, and belabors that inevitable plot point. The bad guy – Steppenwolf, a photoshop copy of Ares from Wonder Woman, complete with bad guy helmet and pointless plan. That’s the whole movie, troops gather and fight the bad guy. Cue credits, and two post credit scenes ala Marvel.
The DC movie universe is trying so hard to catch up to Marvel that it isn’t dedicating any time to developing their characters and making them worthy of the films they are anchoring. Once they get past all the fast forwarding, they may have something decent on their hands. All the characters show promise, they just need a little bit more space to grow and evolve. By shoving them all together as fast as possible, just as we’re getting to know them, it doesn’t set them up for the best success. Momoa and Miller both bring a solid life to their characters, as out of character as they both feel. They are certainly welcome additions to the pantheon. Cyborg, less so, as he’s given the least to do and is saddled with the CGI do anything suit.
There are some funny moments, a welcome breeziness likely due to Whedon’s influence, though it feels a bit like Whedon lite. I guess they could only do so many reshoots. Brief appearances by franchise friends Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, and Connie Nielsen help connect the movies. The underwater scenes are truly interesting, likely because they’re not something we’ve seen before. Amber Heard’s brief cameo as Mera is actually more badass than Momoa’s collective, but it only raises the issue of why the team complains about being shorthanded and don’t bother asking the powerful sea goddess that held her own against the big bad.
Justice League’s biggest crime is just how dull it is. It’s not bad the way Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman were, but it’s just another DC film that showed promise but doesn’t quite deliver on it.
My Grade – C-