What a mess.
I really wanted to love Justice League. I’m a big fan of comicbook films, but Batman and the gang all deserved better than this. Sure Batman v Superman was a disappointment, but I still had some hope after Wonder Woman was a rousing success. Sadly, DC went about this the wrong way. Whereas Marvel built up to The Avengers (and its underwhelming sequel) by releasing a string of standalone films, DC’s iconic team begins with the group effort, thus saddling the film with the chore of introducing everybody (instead of getting to the good stuff). The result? A severely disjoined film with choppy editing, cheap CGI, and childish plotting.
Yes, Justice League‘s script couldn’t be more pedestrian. The dialogue is frequently embarrassing (“I don’t have to recognize the world, I just have to save it“), while the narrative is preoccupied with getting our characters in place for the final battle. There’s no meaningful interactions or clever plotting, just poor set-pieces that are thinly pieced together to fill up screen-time. Moreover, the film’s villain, Steppenwolf, is ridiculous. Ciaran Hinds does what he can with the cringeworthy (and extremely repetitive) dialogue about world domination, but the baddie is a CGI character who would be better suited in a videogame.
As for our heroes, the performances are pretty uneven. Fresh off her stunning turn in Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is easily the most consistent actor here. Although the camera sexualizes her at several instances with various butt shots and low-angles (I have to believe that a female director like Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins wouldn’t have opted for such stylistic choices), Gadot is a certified badass in all her scenes. In fact, she has the film’s most memorable moments both in terms of dialogue and action. From the newcomers, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen (The Flash) leaves the most impression. He’s goofy, awkward, and hilarious across the board. Much like Black Panther stole the show in Civil War appearance, The Flash has me tremendously excited for his solo outing. Game of Thrones‘ Jason Momoa has potential as Aquaman (his solo movie is the next release on DC’s upcoming slate), but something about his character felt very off to me. The script tries to impose a bad boy shtick that fails miserably, and it often feels like Momoa was basically asked to re-play his GOT character. It just doesn’t feel organic in the slightest. Ray Fisher fares a bit better as Cyborg, but his hero is a pure plot device that only exists to provide technological solutions when needed.
And then there’s Ben Affleck. I’ve never before seen an actor so blatantly display how uncommitted he is to a role. Affleck just looks BORED to be there, and there’s no heart or soul to be found in this performance. This might end up being Affleck’s final turn as the iconic superhero, and I sure hope that’s the case. He’s abysmal.
Oh, and before you ask, yes Henry Cavill’s mustache is painfully CGI-ed making every one of Superman’s scenes extremely distracting. It boggles my mind that one of the most expensive movies ever made couldn’t find a more effective solution for the mustache predicament. If for no other reason, the movie deserved to flop hard.
Finally, it’s worth noting that due to a personal tragedy, director Zack Snyder had to drop out of reshoots which Avengers director Joss Whedon took over. You’d think that two visionary directors would manage to produce something special, but the reshoots are dreadfully obvious, and they make the entire film even more jumbled. What a pity.
Justice League tries to be a fun time at the movies, and it sometimes succeeds. However, individual moments of joy aren’t enough to overcome its numerous flaws. You’re better off watching Black Panther! A definite disappointment!