Bruce Wayne's New Crimefighting Initiative: 'Justice League' Review
Although Bruce Wayne, who also fights crime as Batman, is the sworn protector of Gotham City, he also keeps his eye on threats worldwide. One comes when three sources of unique energy called the Mother Boxes become energized. In Justice League, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) takes notice when this happens, and become the target of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who once before had tried to gain possession of all three. With Superman (Henry Cavill) out of the picture, Steppenwolf and his legion of Parademons seek to gain them again. When these forces take the box on Themyscira, Wayne finds that Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) willing to join him in the fight to stop Steppenwolf. He also approaches Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) for this fight, but he initially declines. He changes his mind, though, when Steppenwolf seizes the second of the three Mother Boxes. Batman also gains an ally in Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller).
The third Mother Box has been in the possession of Dr. Silas Stone (Joe Morton), who used it to save the life of his son Victor (Ray Fisher), who'd been left severely injured in an auto accident. Dr. Stone, though, has lead others to believe that Victor was dead, instead of transformed into Cyborg, a young man eager to show his newly found powers. When Dr. Stone and other STAR workers are captured by Steppenwolf, Cyborg completes the team that Batman wants. Commissioner Gordon (J. K. Simmons) and Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) get leads that send the Justice League into an unsuccessful confrontation with Steppenwolf and his forces. With the last Mother Box still in Justice League hands, Cyborg uses its power to resurrect Clark Kent. While they succeed, Superman has memory issues that may jeopardize their safety.
While I enjoyed Justice League, Warner Brothers shows they lag behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of story and aesthetics. Many scenes, including most of the action sequences, look fake - and that's never a good thing with a big-budget production such as this one. The screenplay from Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon doesn't answer a big question about the final showdown in a place that Steppenwolf knows to be unsafe for most human beings. By what audiences are told about Steppenwolf's location, Superman should be the only one who could safely enter and exit that part of the world. I'm not a big fan of Zack Snyder's films, which are heavy on action and short on personality. Justice League is a step up from such lackluster Snyder efforts, such as 300 and Man Of Steel, but don't give Snyder credit for that.
The credit for the film's appeal goes to Gadot. Wonder Woman is the humanizing factor in this quintet. She is the warrior who answers Bruce Wayne's call without hesitation, given their previous work together. Besides Barry, she is the only other one besides Bruce to think that combining their unique abilities is a good idea. Diana seems to be most invested in the protection of a world where she can deflect bullets and get at the truth behind motives with her lasso. Affleck is adequate as Bruce, who puts himself and his money on the line, but he does little else besides identifying and fighting threats. Momoa, Miller, and Fisher do fine in limited moments as they are introduced to the DC movie world. The same holds true for Irons and Simmons as Batman's most trusted allies. Amy Adams has a small, but pivotal, appearance as Lois Lane, as does Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta. Diane Lane returns briefly as Martha Kent, the earthly mother of Clark Kent.
In 2017, Warner Brothers had a critical and monetary hit with Wonder Woman. Justice League brings the Amazonian into an alliance with other heroes and heroes in the making. Viewers don't need the DC hero movies to be a carbon copy of the Marvel hero movies, but Marvel clearly has the edge at this point in both characterization and special effects. Justice League has enough good moments, but it's not in the same league as Wonder Woman or any 2017 Marvel movie. Time will tell, though, if this is a year where the DC franchise makes their heroes as dynamic and as enjoyable as Marvel has. Too bad the Lasso Of Truth doesn't work on fictional writing.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Justice League three stars. Wonder Woman to the rescue again.