Justice League: A Mixed Affair
One of the movies I most anticipated as as a child was Justice League. Growing up, Justice League of America (JLA), was one of my favorite comic book series, and I loved the Justice League animated television series, as well. I always imagined what a Justice League movie would look like, and now we finally have one. Writer/Director Joss Whedon took over for Zack Snyder, and although, I can’t say it disappointed me, it, unfortunately, didn't quite live up to my very high expectations in terms of story and execution, and some distractingly poor Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).
The Justice League story line follows the film Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Superman is dead, and Batman (played by Ben Affleck) is still reflecting over his death, when suddenly, an enemy, known as Steppenwolf, appears and threatens the Earth. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, enlists the help of his ally, Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot), aka Wonder Woman, to help him recruit a league of metahumans to stand against this new threat. This league grows to also include: Barry Allen (played by Ezra Miller), aka The Flash; Arthur Curry (played by Jason Momoa), aka Aquaman; and Victor Stone (played by Ray Fisher), aka Cyborg. Despite this impressive collection of superheroes, they may be too late to stop Steppenwolf.
The Justice League does truly feel like a team, with problems and all, and I especially liked Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Personally, I would have preferred him dropping a giant whale on Steppenwolf, just to show how powerful he was, instead of his whiskey drinking. Atlantis, overall, looked rather dull, and one can only hope, it will be significantly improved in the forthcoming Aquaman film. On a more positive note, I did like Affleck as Batman, especially, his interactions with Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons, who previously played J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man). Gal Gadot's performance is also good and brings a lot of heart, charm, and heroism as Wonder Woman. I think this might be Henry Cavill’s best performance as Superman, who is (as seen in the trailer) brought back to life. While Superman’s screen time is short, he does manage to show some real emotion and happiness for a change, which was sorely lacking in Batman V. Superman. Also, it was awesome to see him actually use his ice breath. That was a cool scene. I didn’t much care for Ezra Miller’s Flash. His dry “whoa-whoa" bits of humor felt tacked on. While Ray Fisher’s Cyborg was, in my opinion, the most useless member of the League. Danny Elfman’s musical score is again good, bringing back his old Batman theme, and briefly using a warped "evil version" of Superman’s theme when he first returns, but it’s very hard to hear any of the music under the constant sound-effects, a problem with most modern blockbuster films.
Many of the major problems of Justice League are the result of how it looks. I would have enjoyed the film more if the CGI had been better executed. While I don’t usually jump on the “it looks like a videogame” type of criticism, in the case of Justice League, I can definitely see that this applies. This movie, especially the Steppenwolf character, looked really fake. Weta Digital did the special effects for both Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman, and I showered them with praise in my War for the Planet of the Apes review. Here, however, their effects seem sloppier and less real than before, likely the result of a rushed schedule. When Steppenwolf and the parademons attack, it looks like a Playstation (PS3) game, and was, thus, less enjoyable. Marvel villains have been regularly criticized for being poorly developed, and Steppenwolf is possibly the worst example yet. What makes Steppenwolf especially frustrating is not only is he a generic "Bad Guy", but he’s actually being played by a very good actor, Ciaran Hinds. Hinds isn’t so much bad in the role, as he’s just wasted.
Despite all my Justice League complaints, I did enjoy the film, overall. In some ways, it’s interesting. I laughed a few times, but as a fan of DC Comics, I certainly hope the future films are better. For those who liked Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Wonder Woman, I recommend seeing it.
Now playing in Lebanon at Entertainment Cinemas, Monday - Thursday at 3:00 and 6:30 PM, Friday at 2:55, 6:35, and 9:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday at 11:50 AM, 2:55, 6:35, and 9:30 PM.