Justice League (2017) – Film Review
The amount of well documented behind-the-scenes stories behind the highly troubled production of Justice League hasn’t stopped it from earning a big splash on its opening weekend – Batman and Wonder Woman are, of course, big names to add to a film poster.
It’s a little surprising then, that one of the most expensive films of all time is not only just two hours long but apparently has had 50 minutes cut out of a late version of the original theatrical cut.
The truly terrible Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice weighed in at closer to three hours when the Ultimate Edition was released on DVD which filled in a few plot points but didn’t improve that film much.
And the music, while done by Danny Elfman who scored the two Michael Keaton films, is forgettable only because you notice when he cuts and pastes bits from his superior scores for his earlier (and more iconic) Batman efforts.
Unlike Christopher Nolan’s truly epic Batman trilogy, which wasn’t afraid of putting epic storylines into epic length films with superb soundtrack to boot – and Patty Jenkins’ well judged and received Wonder Woman film, Zack Snyder’s rendition of those heroes and the other members of the Justice League, feel shoehorned into the shorter running time.
Add to that some attempts to add levity to proceedings by screenwriter Joss Whedon (who helmed the superior Marvel film Avengers Assemble from 2012) and we sadly have a bit of a mish mash of a Justice League with liberal (perhaps too liberal in places) sprinkling of comedy Whedonisms.
So we have a final product that’s part Zack Snyder, part Joss Whedon (who was hired to replace Snyder to finish the film after a family tragedy), and part alleged studio interference.
Justice League is another lightweight looking cgi-fest
With so many characters on screen and a fantasy villain and action sequences it’s inevitable that everyone gets shortchanged to one extent or another and the main villain – a mean sounding Steppenwolf (played by a motion captured Ciaran Hinds) – looks like a generic cgi bad guy without reference to his place in the greater DC Comics Expanded Universe (DCEU).
His army of flying Parademons look like they’ve come out of a video game and there’s some very obviously fake cgi and costume material choices exposed by the increased lighting in the film.
Yes, increased, because the previous Dawn of Justice had been criticised for being too dark, murky, and gloomy looking but at least the plot was simple and very easy to follow.
Put simply, Batman knows that a planet threatening villain is coming and needs to gather as many heroes as possible to try and combat it, but has to resort to some extremely risky measures to get his Justice League up to full strength to combat Earth’s biggest ever threat.
Ezra Miller as The Flash is there to provide comic relief, while Jason Momoa’s Aquaman hands out some extra snark and muscle to his improbable fight scenes.
Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) is easily the best thing about this film despite some questionable script choices, and while no character gets much development there’s too little emotional depth for characters of the stature of Ben Affleck’s Batman despite some interesting key plot moments.
In fact, Ray Fisher gets a decent storyline as the conflicted Cyborg who at least has something resembling an emotional storyline, as he becomes the tech brains of the group.
There’s a selection of small cameos from supporting actors playing familiar characters to add some variety and glue the plot together but while Justice League just about hangs together it doesn’t feel very coherent and it’s all too easy to see the recently released Thor: Ragnarok as a superior alternative for people who seek a superhero team-up movie with well-judged wisecracks.
Hang around for a couple of post credits sequences – the first to appear in a DC Comics superhero film – they aren’t bad efforts.
Justice League (12A; moderate fantasy violence; 120 minutes)
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast Includes: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds
Summary: JUSTICE LEAGUE is a sci-fi action adventure in which a group of disparate superheroes come together to fight an alien invasion.
Rating: ** (It’s not completely terrible but Justice League is definitely not a good superhero movie)