Movie Review: “Justice League”
Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead. This is a tragedy that has been felt across the planet. Gone is the controversial, unstoppable force that has protected the innocent from those that wish them harm. Criminals have become more daring in Superman’s absence, while surviving heroes do their best to stop the violence, but Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) fears that Superman’s death has been heard across the far reaches of the universe as well.
Bruce Wayne believes that there are dark forces that have stayed away from Earth due to Superman’s presence. Now that the Man of Steel is gone, Bruce believes those dark forces will be coming to conquer Earth. With Earth vulnerable, Bruce Wayne decides to put together a team to defend Earth now that Superman cannot. So he and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) set out to recruit these gifted individuals. Dark forces are now on Earth’s doorstep with the intention of conquering Earth and leaving it in ruin. All that stands in their way is Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Wonder Woman, and the Batman.
The Pros & Cons
The Flash (+3pts)
Aquaman & Cyborg (-4pts)
Justice League (+6pts)
Wonder Woman (+5pts)
Bruce Wayne (-4pts)
Pro: The Flash (+3pts)
Barry Allen, The Flash, is definitely the comedic relief of the film and it works really well. He is quick witted and is played in a way that makes him come across as permanently anxious. This version of the scarlet speedster is very excited to be a part of a superhero team, but up until now, he has faced little more than common street criminals. So yes, he is excited to fight alongside the Batman, but he is incredibly overwhelmed by the evil forces coming to Earth. As Barry puts it, “I just run really fast and push people”. Not sure if I quoted him exactly but it was a funny line that accurately explains Barry‘s state of mind, as the fighting begins.
Batman is the backbone of the film, Wonder Woman is the heart, and The Flash gives the film a lot of life. He is the youngest of this group of heroes. Maybe he is a little naive in the beginning, but he is very funny and goes through a lot of natural growth in this movie. This character is definitely one of this film’s strengths and I look forward to seeing more of Ezra Miller, in this role, in the coming years.
Con: Aquaman & Cyborg (-4pts)
I want to be clear that I liked both of these characters, and I look forward to seeing more of them. My problem with these characters was that I felt the film barely scratched the surface with the story and the depth that should go into these icons. I understand that this film struggles with delivering a well written plot while giving proper character development to five major comic book heroes. This film had a lot to do and not much time to do it, but no one said filmmaking was easy. Unfortunately, I felt that it was the character development for Aquaman and Cyborg that suffered. That being said, I liked these characters and the actors did a good job in the roles so I look forward to seeing them on screen again.
Pro: Justice League (+6pts)
This film was at its absolute best when all of these iconic heroes were on screen together. I know we have seen a lot of superhero teams on the big screen by now but seeing Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg all fighting side-by-side was truly spectacular. I think seeing this team together feels like a spectacle whether you are familiar with each character or not. There is a very fun team dynamic, bantering back and forth, spectacular action, and apocalyptic stakes. The film takes a little while to get the team together, but once it does, there are plenty of great moments to make up for the somewhat slow start. This film is not perfect but it truly feels like a spectacle so is definitely worth seeing, in my opinion, even if only for seeing these iconic heroes, together, on screen.
Con: Steppenwolf (-5pts)
One of my biggest problem of the film was Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). He had so much potential but ended up feeling very generic. Like so many of the Marvel films, the development of this villain was sacrificed to push the plot and development of other characters. I understand this decision in a crowded film such as this one, but that does not change the fact that the villain is one of this film‘s biggest weaknesses. Again, no one said filmmaking was easy.
So we have Steppenwolf who comes to Earth searching for three mother boxes. Why does he care about these mother boxes? We know that bad things will happen if he gets his hands on the boxes, but why is it so important to this character? He definitely comes across as powerful, but this character gets no depth and very little attention. As a result, this colossal villain makes very little impact on-screen, which is a shame.
Pro: Wonder Woman (+5pts)
If you saw Wonder Woman from earlier this year, then this should come as no surprise but the best character in this film is definitely Wonder Woman. This is such a well written character that gets plenty of depth, plenty of screentime, and plenty of development. She is still getting through the loss of Steve Trevor, and very subtly notices a lot of similarities between him and Bruce Wayne. I do not want to get too into the details to avoid spoiler territory but both Bruce Wayne and Steve Trevor are leaders who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and are willing to sacrifice themselves to protect everyone else. There are plenty of ways in which one can compare Bruce Wayne and Steve Trevor, but the point is that Diana Prince very obviously sees this comparison. It adds a lot of depth to the character which Gal Gadot portrayed wonderfully (see what I did there?).
Aside from the depth in this role, the character gets plenty of screentime and plenty of great action sequences. In this team of heroes, Wonder Woman is the heart but she is also the muscle. She is the character that can go toe-to-toe with the monstrous villain and she is not at all afraid to do so. She is powerful, fierce, compassionate, and so much fun to watch. DC is doing great things with this character right now and it is very entertaining to see on-screen.
Con: Bruce Wayne (-4pts)
I was, unfortunately, a bit disappointed with Bruce Wayne and the Batman in this film. For starters, the fights in this film are extremely over-the-top. We have flying aliens, the king of Atlantis, a speedster, a cyborg, and the daughter of Zeus. With such over-the-top characters and such high stakes, the film struggles to make Batman feel relevant in the fight sequences. All the other characters take part in some great action sequences but I felt a bit deprived of Batman in action. Instead we get plenty of him driving his various vehicles. This is cool and all, but it would have been nice to see the Bat in some amazing hand-to-hand combat sequences.
Then there is my issue with Bruce Wayne. I felt like the character was nothing more than a plot device in this film, which is a real shame. This is, arguably, the most iconic superhero today yet this film does so little with the character. He recruits the rest of the team, and guides them from mission to mission, but gets no real character development. I feel like I am one of the few people who is a fan of Ben Affleck in this role, but this film did not do him justice (no pun intended).
Grade: C+ (76pts)
Justice League was a decent movie and was far from Warner Brother’s worst DC film in the current cinematic universe, but it certainly has its problems. I felt like this film bit off a bit more than it could chew. It brings together five of the most iconic superheroes and it also aims to center the film about a complicated and iconic villain in Steppenwolf. There are a lot of great things introduced in this film but it fails to give proper attention to most of the things it introduces. The best examples of this are Steppenwolf, Aquaman, and Cyborg. These are some amazing characters with some compelling backstories but, in a film as cluttered as this one, they do not get the development they deserve.
Then there is Bruce Wayne. He, unfortunately, feels like nothing more than a plot device here. Such an iconic character, yet the film (much like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) barely scratches the surface of his potential. Fortunately, this film got a couple of characters right. With Wonder Woman, we get exactly what we expect after the fantastic film earlier this year. She is brave,strong, fierce, compassionate, and is the heart of this film. Then there is The Flash, who is the film’s comedic relief. The comedy works really well when it is coming from this character and there is plenty of it throughout this film, but there is also a decent amount of character development given to him. I was pleased that the filmmakers made sure to give ample attention to at least one of the side characters.
The film gets a couple characters right and a few end up feeling a bit shallow, but I am pretty excited to see more of all of them in the coming years. They are cool individually and are so much fun to watch together. There is a lot of iconic characters in some amazing action sequences. It is not a perfect film, but I think it is decent and worth watching.