Movie Review – “Justice League”

TL;DR version: better than Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but not as good as Wonder Woman. (I won’t judge Suicide Squad until I get around to seeing it.) Also, my concerns with this iteration of the DCU have been largely addressed. Mild spoilers in the details on that part. Also, there are two scenes during and after the credits, so stay through the entire thing.

Cast and Crew Information

Ben Affleck as Batman / Bruce Wayne
Henry Cavill as Superman / Clark Kent
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman / Diana Price
Ezra Miller as Flash / Barry Allen
Jason Momoa as Aquaman / Arthur Curry
Ray Fisher as Cyborg / Victor Stone
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon
CiarĂ¡n Hinds as Steppenwolf (voice)
Amber Heard as Mera
Joe Morton as Silas Stone
David Thewlis as Ares
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Detective Crispus Allen
Billy Crudup as Henry Allen

Written by Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, and Zack Snyder
Directed by Zack Snyder (although Joss Whedon stepped up to finish post-production and reshoots so Snyder could mourn the loss of his daughter).

Premise

Batman is aware that an attack is coming from beyond Earth, and he puts a team together to save the world.

High Point

I would have thought that fixing Superman would have been enough to propel that into the high point, but even with that aspect finally corrected, Wonder Woman is still the standout character.

Low Point

This Flash is amusing, and Ezra Miller plays the part well, but he’s not any version of Barry Allen I recognize from the source material, although I do understand the need to do something different than the TV version.

Also, I’m not entirely sure there aren’t still three highly dangerous McGuffins lying around.

The Review

This is a somewhat original concept. We’ve seen and read a number of origin stories for the Justice League, but none had the initial setup this one had, and none have made it to the silver screen. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects in major studio productions don’t show the variation they used to. Completely computer generated environments are now a fairly common thing, and rarely falter in big budget tentpoles like this. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is well structured, and more coherent than I’ve come to expect from the previous Snyder-directed outings in this cinematic universe. Yes, much of it is devoted to setting up the solo outings for the cast, but none of those moments feel like they don’t belong, as they fit into the character arcs we get here. I would have preferred a more “classic” version of Barry Allen, but they are hampered in this respect by the decision to keep the TV and movie incarnations as two distinct incarnations, giving them a certain obligation to stay apart from the TV version. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was well done. None of these characters are miscast (relative to the incarnations in the script, at any rate.) In fact, I would argue that this proves the validity of past casting choices which have been questioned. The range for any individual is not that huge, but that’s a problem with scripting six different character arcs in a 2 hour action film, leaving little room for those moments. Actors cannot be blamed for not being given any material. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is very good. All that seems out of place is how bright Superman’s suit is, which is so weird to type after the first two Cavill outings. With a two hour runtime, it’s tightly edited, yet still feels complete, unlike Batman v Superman, which left me wondering how much longer the ultimate edition was going to be. The only complaint is that there isn’t anything that felt flashy, innovative, or unique. It was pretty standard, though no less effective. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was good. I wasn’t nearly as excited by this going in as I would have been when it was announced after the opening weekend of Avengers, but I was entertained throughout, and very pleased by the handling of the team as a whole. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is entertaining, and worth checking out if you are interested. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Justice League receives 36 out of 42.

6 replies on “Movie Review – “Justice League””

  1. Wait, Superman isn’t dead?!

    Yeah, it was a surprise they pretended he wasn’t going to be in the movie more than it was surprising he wasn’t dead.

    I’ll comment more after I see it… sometime around the home video release.

  2. lost says:

    Regarding those MacGuffins: I expect that was supposed to be ambiguous but it sure looked like their “purpose” was inverted at the end.

    I was having flashes of a certain Mr. Parker’s appearance in the other company’s big team-up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since it basically worked.

    I actually liked how they hung a subtle lampshade on Superman’s ridiculous power level, whether intentional or not, though how much was due to the “recharge” is unclear.

    Overall, if they’re careful not to backslide with future films, I think they might finally have a foundation that can support an ongoing film series. I agree that Wonder Woman was better, but I think that largely stems from the fact that it was necessarily more focused on fewer characters while Justice League gives us a relatively large number of characters we haven’t met before (in this iteration). The make or break on that will be the upcoming films.

  3. tsunayoshi says:

    The Flash was the standout to me, a couple of his scenes were awesome, like the moment when he nervously takes his first heroic action at Batman’s coaching and then realizes “I CAN DO THIS!”, and the look on his face when he realizes Superman can see (and react) to him while he is using the speed force. I also though the effects for his power were quite well done, better than X-Men did for their speedster.

    I like Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman and how he is playing a Batman who has been doing this for a long time, knows he is not as young as he used to be, and that he is very vulnerable as the lone non-metahuman in the bunch…by all rights he should be dead picking the fights he does in this movie (he really should have never survived BvS for that matter…). I hope he does stick around for the Batman solo movie.

  4. JD DeLuzio says:

    I found it enjoyable, despite some tonal incoherence. Actually, the disjointed beginning felt a lot like a DC Crossover Event Comic.

    I didn’t expect to like a different version of Barry Allen, but they did a good job making him the New Kid.

    Superman finally gets to be Superman.

    The finale (and the epilogues) finally feel like a DCU movie.

    I’m not feeling the originality score, however. And it’s not just the ways it’s actually derivative; DC is courting problematic accusations of being derivative by setting up Darkseid as the future Big Bad, and using the Mother Boxes much as Marvel has been using the Soul Gems Infinity Stones– even though the DC versions came first in the comics.

    Fortunately, they’ve also set up some version of the Legion of Doom, which is a better play for a Big Bad. I hope they do that first.

    Some questions, which may contain SPOILERS:

    -How will they explain Clark’s return?
    -It’s clear that Luthor should know that Superman is Clark Kent. Will that still be in play in the forthcoming Legion of Doom (or whatever they call it) confrontation?
    -When will the Green Lantern show up? The film establishes the Lanterns exist.
    -Did anyone else feel like yelling out “Martha!” No? Okay….
    -Did we also witness the Power of Shazam in that flashback? For that matter, did anyone else get a (and I’m probably off my mark) strong Sivana vibe from the guy in Luthor’s cell
    ?

  5. Ogre says:

    I enjoyed it because my wife and daughter enjoyed it. I’m a Marvel guy, just like i’m a GM guy so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. It wasn’t a bad way to spend 2 hours but it felt clunky and disjointed to me. The best part of the marvel movies is that they spent time developing the backstory of the characters before putting them on screen together. With Justice League, we have the backstory of Superman and Wonder Woman along with the knowledge that Batman wanted to kill Supes until he found out their mothers had the same name. The backstory of The Flash is “he got struck by lightning”, Cyborg is “his dad worked on the Superman space ship”, and Aquaman was “I’m Bruce Wayne and I heard a rumor”. We get no real info on the antagonist and no reason as to why the MacGuffin is important. Couple all that with the (IMO) sub-par CGI for a movie that is estimated to have cost $300+ million and it just isn’t up to snuff.

    And the fact that we only saw a hint of the Corps (my favorite DC comic) and overall I was disappointed. Call me a pig but give me a Wonder Woman vs. Harley Quinn movie as reported on by Lois Lane and I’ll pay to see another DC movie in the theaters outside of Wonder Woman 2.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      The cost raises something I thought about about a half-hour into the film: literally, the budget for every scene in this movie could finance a really good indie film.

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