SPOILER REVIEW: 'Justice League' isn't terrible, but falls way short of its own expectations
(image via Warner Bros.)
"Justice League" had a lot it needed to accomplish in order to be a hit for DC and Warner Bros. Maybe too much.
The film needed to reignite interest in the DCEU, introduce a bunch of new major players and set the table for the future. Tough to do in one sitting.
Despite all the issues behind the scenes with the departure of Zack Snyder, re-works and re-writes, "Justice League" isn't a complete disaster. It almost felt like watching an injury-plagued football team battle to a .500 record to finish a season.
Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher and Jason Mamoa as The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, respectively, are the real strengths of the film. This is a great core group of likable new characters WB can build around. Miller is the comedic foil we've needed to Ben Affleck's grumpy Batman. Fisher's internal struggles as he evolves with the alien technology keeping him alive is fascinating. Momoa's meeting with Amber Heard's Queen Mera left me wanting more of Atlantis.
Aside from some wonky CGI, Henry Cavill's Superman was outstanding. It's a shame he wasn't a larger part of the first two acts. We all know he was dead, but we all knew he was coming back. Why not get him back a little quicker in act two and center the conflict between he and Batman as part of the recruitment process of the rest of the league?
It pains me to say this but Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman fell very short. After seeing what she's capable of in Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman," Gadot's performance seemed very wooden. What happened to the funny, vulnerable character we saw in June?
We all knew WB wanted to inject some humor into the DCEU, but this wasn't funny. A lot of these poor attempts were centered around Affleck, who admirably tried to work with what he had. We don't need two "So ... uh ... you don't talk to fish?" bits. The obvious re-shoot was a bit too obvious. Affleck cracking jokes about bleeding after being thrown by Superman was just kinda sad.
I didn't know much about the villain Steppenwolf before the movie and I don't know much more now. Is he a god? An alien? A demon? Where does he stand in the hierarchy or weirdness that DC showcased in that awesome flashback battle scene? Aside from all that, Steppenwolf looked absolutely terrible on-screen. Same goes for his band of hench-bugs. VFX like that are unforgivable for this size of property.
The two-hour runtime is a direct reaction to grumbling audiences from 2015's "Batman v Superman" but damn, you gotta let this breathe a little if you're WB. This is a massive story to tell in two hours and it felt very constrained. Cuts were jerky and some scenes felt totally underserved. Did we need multiple scenes about the Russian family in their home?
"Justice League" didn't accomplish everything it needed to but it's not a terrible film. It fell far short of its own expectations but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying what it is. Push the flaws aside and go enjoy some great classic characters.