UK Release Date: 17th November 2017
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Connie Nielsen, JK Simmons
Synopsis: DC’s mightiest heroes must join forces despite their differences in order to take down an alien threat looking to level the Earth and turn it into a hideous hellscape.
Just months after Wonder Woman jammed a shot of adrenaline into the veins of the beleaguered DC Extended Universe, the big guns have arrived for team-up movie Justice League. The film has had a tough path to the big screen, with extensive reshoots taking place under the stewardship of Joss Whedon after a family tragedy caused original director Zack Snyder to step aside at the last minute. It’s fair to say that few outside of the hardcore fanbase expected the result to be coherent, let alone entertaining. In the former case, they may well have called it right but, for pure entertainment value, it all just about works.
Snyder set himself an enormous task with Justice League, in that he has to serve the existing heavy hitters of the DC Extended Universe while also introducing three new members of the team. As a result, the film is an absolute mess of storytelling, which is barely able to pause for breath for long enough to create a smidge of character. Much like the widely derided Suicide Squad, the movie starts in chaotic fashion with a number of set pieces that bear no relevance to the rest of the story, including Gal Gadot‘s wisely spotlighted Wonder Woman taking out some bomb-toting goons.
The main threat, when it does arrive, is the pound shop CGI villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), who looks like a cheap child’s toy that would trigger a desperate Christmas Day hunt for batteries. He is trying to assemble the three MacGuffin Boxes, as they might as well be called, in order to cause some unspecified carnage. This leads Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman to attempt to assemble the meta-humans they have been observing, including Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
Justice League certainly feels like a film that has had dozens of cooks in its kitchen. The effects of the reshoots lead to oddly shoe-horned in jokes and a bizarre performance from Henry Cavill, whose return as Superman is accomplished via a series of contrivances that make Kingsman: The Golden Circle‘s resurrection look entirely logical. Much has been made about the CGI removal of a moustache he grew for another role, but it’s most surprising how his performance veers wildly between extremes of emotion with no explanation.
Snyder does manage to keep the film moving at a reasonable pace, with decent interactions between the members of the team. Ezra Miller’s Flash is a wisecracking highlight and Gadot’s star quality shines through even in the most difficult corners of the movie. Jason Momoa, meanwhile, is far too much like an imperfect clone of Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine and, in the same year that produced Logan, a bargain basement knock-off feels even more like a missed opportunity.
There’s some intrigue to the fight scenes, though there’s some hideously over-used CGI and Steppenwolf is completely ineffectual as a villain, becoming next to useless when Superman arrives on the scene. Given the admirable rogues’ gallery DC has in its back pocket, this is one of the film’s real disappointments. By the time another villain emerges in a post-credits scene to tease something for the future, you’re left wondering why that wasn’t the central threat all along.
With all of that said, Justice League just about hangs together on pure entertainment value. The film moves so quickly that it’s almost impossible not to be carried along at least a little by its momentum and there’s an undoubted relief to the fact DC has just about landed on its feet. This is not Wonder Woman, but it’s a long way from Batman v Superman as well – and that’s something worth being thankful for.
Pop or Poop?
After just a handful of movies, DC has blown its load with Justice League and, given how used to big superhero team-ups audiences are at this stage. the studio just about gets away with it. It’s lighter than the previous DC entries and has some nice interplay between the characters. Gal Gadot remains the star, but Ezra Miller certainly does enough to suggest that the upcoming Flashpoint movie could be a universe highlight.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.