Movie Review: Justice League

Justice League is a sci-fi fantasy action adventure a.k.a. a superhero movie from Zack Snyder. The DC franchise has been working towards a team effort for some time now, with films for Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and upcoming films for other core members of the Justice League. Wonder Woman had a strong showing for DC, after a so-so outing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unfortunately, Justice League isn’t able to match the same wonderful blend of comedy and action that was Wonder Woman. It’s much less inspiring, somewhat rote and over-padded with CGI that often feels superfluous.

Snyder has got a great eye for what works visually and a good sensibility when it comes to direction, but the Justice League screenplay is flat. While spectacular at times, it just feels familiar and somewhat uninspired. Steppenwolf is essentially a CGI villain, who while promising, doesn’t have enough vigour or characterisation to become a truly terrifying force. Having live-action actors taking on a computer-generated villain… it’s just not the same as having a treacherous and vindictive Loki.

There are some interesting touches, in terms of the treatment of The Flash and the introduction of Cyborg, in fact, one of the film’s highlights is the reintroduction of Superman, played by Henry Cavill, who while picture perfect doesn’t quite have the charm necessary to truly own the character. As if playing into this, his cold and detached reintroduction is actually remarkably strong as the secret weapon goes head-to-head with the new and old recruits.

“Yes, we’re the Justice League… and no, we don’t do kids parties!”

Aquaman is another interesting facet to the Justice League, treated like a heavy metal god of the sea, played by Jason Momoa. This rendition is definitely the right way for Aquaman, based on the character’s previous iterations and the perception of him being one of the less desirable superhero characters. Ben Affleck also has a better showing in this film after a fairly flat-footed performance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

While entertaining and reasonably enjoyable at times, it’s a fairly frothy superhero team effort. It makes for passable and lightweight entertainment, but it never really owns its space and struggles to engage the audience. While one can rally behind the Justice League, the villain is never really intimidating enough. The powerful device is very similar to the Avengers in terms of its world-destroying capability and while there are moments of clarity, it pales in comparison. The underdeveloped script, doesn’t give us enough depth of character and the entire experience is like watching from an arm’s length rather than feeling immersed.

It’s interesting to see this team of DC superheroes banding together, but with without much chemistry, a superficial treatment and overblown CGI, it’s somewhat disappointing even if it is moderately entertaining. The CGI ranges from solid to mediocre and is overused, diminishing the suspense of disbelief. Hopefully the filmmakers can learn from the mistakes made in Justice League to lean back towards the world they so lovingly created for Wonder Woman.

The bottom line: Underwhelming

 

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