Reactions to this film have been mixed to say the least, but mostly negative. Common criticisms included the thin plot, inconsistent tone, overuse of CGI and terrible villain, to mention a few things. I actually worried about it for a moment going into it, not sure how I would react to it.
One of my biggest concerns for Justice League was the fact that DC seemed to have rushed into doing this film without giving the cast their own film first (apart from Wonder Woman but she first appeared in Dawn of Justice). Sure, comic book fans would know who they were, but the casual movie goer may have no idea about them. Say what you like about Marvel, I think they did the right thing giving them their origin films first so that people could get used to the characters. That means they could focus on the story without needing to go over old ground. This meant that Justice League could potentially get bogged down in origin stories – and DC has a pretty bad reputation as far as pacing goes as it is! So even I had a few issues going into seeing it.
To be honest though, I found a lot of the complaints towards this film unfounded – in fact I loved it! And here is why.
Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons are attacking Earth, in search of the Motherboxes that were hidden there. One was kept by the Amazons, the other by the Atlantians, the final by the humans. When brought together, they can terraform the world into Steppenwolf's grizzly idea of a world and end up basically messing things up! With Superman dead, it’s up to Batman and Wonder Woman to recruit new heroes – which they do in the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This was foreshadowed in Dawn of Justice, but here is now where it all comes together.
The plot has received some criticism for being thin – but I never really had a problem with it. Sure it lacked substance, but it was simple to follow and didn’t over complicate things. As for the tone, I actually liked the lighter tone that this one had; it was a breath of fresh air compared to the overly dark tones previous films had. And the story was easy to follow so that’s good. The CGI has also garnered complaints for being overused and, in some cases, unfinished. To that I say, what do you expect? It’s a superhero movie, it goes without saying that there will be CGI to make it look convincing. Marvel have tons of CGI in their films and that works, so I don’t have a problem with it. The action scenes are exciting and fun to watch as well, especially the scenes where Wonder Woman kicks ass!
I think it goes without saying that Gal Gadot is awesome as Wonder Woman so I won’t spend too much time on that – see my Wonder Woman review to learn why she’s so awesome here. In this film, she’s still deeply troubled by the death of her lover and has shut herself off a little bit. But she comes to help Bruce Wayne track down the other metahumans so that they can fight Steppenwolf and his army. Included into the mix are Ezra Miller as Barry Allen (The Flash), Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry (Aquaman) and newcomer Ray Fisher as Victor Stone (Cyborg), which we got a glimpse of in Dawn of Justice.
Miller and Momoa are by far the most entertaining of the newbies. Ezra is a charming and hilarious character that is definitely the humour of the team. He’s some reluctant to be a hero, considering most of his powers are just running away, but he adds a great deal of humanity to the film. He is slightly autistic in his portrayal as Barry Allen, which I thought was great, considering Allen can see a lot of things in the Speed Force Spectrum. And Momoa plays a tough guy Aquaman that drops a few catchphrases, but kicks ass when he wants to. Fisher plays Cyborg a little bit monotone – but that’s kinda the point seeing as he’s mostly machine. He provides a bit of exposition throughout the film, but I guess you need something like that. Overall I liked the new cast.
I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say Superman comes back, considering it was released on the Internet for ages. I found it funny how they had to block out Henry Cavill’s moustache, as he had another role going on at the same time, but I do enjoy Cavill’s Superman. He’s a talented actor and I think he’s done a good job bringing the iconic character to life. And Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane and we even get J.K. Simmons as Commissoner Gordon, though he’s not on screen nearly as much as he should be!
Now onto a couple of other complaints this film has had. And these two I completely agree with. Batman and Steppenwolf.
I’ll be honest I was not really that impressed with Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne – and I was even less impressed here. He just lacks the charisma to play Bruce Wayne in my opinion, and falls down when compared to actors like Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. For me, Batman and Bruce Wayne are polar opposites in some way. Yes, Batman is dark and brooding, but Bruce Wayne is supposed to be an eccentric billionaire playboy that everyone loves. He deliberately plays up this role as he wants to be separated from his Batman persona. However, Affleck plays him as brooding all the time, making him boring to watch. I know Affleck is a good actor, but here he just seems bored in the role.
Now onto Steppenwolf. He is, quite honestly, one of the most generic and boring villains I’ve ever seen in a superhero film. There literary was nothing to his character other than “Steppenwolf smash!” This guys is supposed to be the Uncle of Darkseid – which is referenced in the film – but the film makes no attempt to characterise him. Oh sure, he’s still a tough fight for the heroes, but I never really got any level of threat because I didn’t understand his motivations. I like my villains a little more with shades of grey, I want to understand why they are doing this; if done right, you can make a villain that’s sympathetic, yet still wicked. Take Loki from The Avengers movie for instance. He lacks the brute force that Steppenwolf has, but he was scheming and devious, using mind tricks to tear the Avengers apart. Plus he was able to weave plots around and use the Tesseract to turn people to slaves. Plus, he has serious daddy issues and just wanted to prove himself – so that in turn made him a sinister villain that the Avengers had to defeat. But here, Steppenwolf was just a boring, CGI monster that even Ciara Hinds couldn’t make interesting. Definitely the weakest link in the film.
One final thing I have to slightly complain about was the origin story thing I mentioned earlier. Now to be fair, the origin elements of the film with Barry Allen, Arthur Curry and Victor Stone didn’t slow down the plot too much. In fact the whole film clocks in at just under two hours, meaning that the pacing issues from previous films have been solved! But, there was a slight issue in that characters are introduced (such as Henry Allen and Mera), that ultimately had nothing to do with the main plot. This is why I think it would have been better to do the individual movies first so that we know who these characters were. If I was a casual movie goer, I’d want to know why Henry Allen was in prison and why Barry is trying to help him, or why Aquaman felt abandoned by his mother, or what happened to Victor to make him this way. These things are never really brought up in the film. However, at least these ones didn’t affect my enjoyment of the film too much.
So all things considered, I actually think Justice League is undeserving of a lot of the complaints it has. I thought it was a fun, action-packed adventure that, whilst it had it’s issues, was still a fun film to watch. It left me with a happy feeling by the end of it so that has to be good. And we even got a little teaser to the next Justice League film when Lex Luthor and Deathstroke meet up, discussing plans to form a league of their own. Injustice Gang perhaps? I’m actually excited for that and will look forward to it.
In conclusion, don’t necessarily listen to what the critics are saying. Go into watching this with your own expectations. You might be surprised. I was. Just goes to show that you don’t always have to believe what the critics say. Speaking as someone that wasn’t too into the DC films and a huge fan of the MCU, I’m gonna say this film is worth a watch.
The big questions now is – what rating do I give this? Considering all superhero films I’ve reviewed have been 5 stars, do I break my streak here?
You know what, given the negativity surrounding this film, I’m gonna show it some support! So therefore, I give Justice League 5 out of 5!
And there you have it! Every single superhero movie I’ve reviewed this year has been 5 star achievements. I honestly believe this is the best season for superhero films so far! Let’s see what 2018 can bring!
Until next time! Keep on being super!