Justice League has a few decent moments and character interactions, but a scattershot tone, an odd structure, and a boring villain make it entirely mediocre and forgettable as a whole.
Director: Zack Snyder
Summary: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.
Note: this review is SPOILER-FREE.
The oddest thing about Justice League is how little impact it feels like it left overall. When we walked out of The Avengers in 2012, it felt like we had just watched the entire movie make landscape change overnight — but walking out of Justice League felt more like a slog with a shrug of the shoulders. This is not a bad movie, not by a long shot, but it’s also a huge step back from Wonder Woman this summer.
That said, the parts of the movie that work do so very well. The characters all bounce off of one another well and they have a natural chemistry that feels genuine. These actors all like one another as people, and it comes across in the movie.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman continues to be the shining star. Ezra Miller plays the Flash as someone who could be neuro-atypical, and he has some great one-liners. Jason Momoa is doing something interesting with Aquaman that probably works more for people who are fans of his audacious personality. Ray Fisher looks a little off in certain lighting, but does a good job with the version of Cyborg that he’s given. Ben Affleck looks a little less engaged than you’d think he would be — but this version of Batman at least looks and acts like Batman. That all works; they each have decent action scenes and they play off of one another well. It’s a pretty solid foundation.
However, the movie that these characters are placed in is a mess. The first act feels like it goes on forever, which is not a good sign in a two-hour-long movie. It has an odd pacing that makes everything feel too long, while the final battle flies by like it’s of no consequence. It seems like holding the chaotic production against this movie is unfair considering the circumstances, but when it so clearly affected the final product, we must. There are pieces that don’t fit together, and it becomes quite obvious where the hairline fractures between Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon are.
Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is, to be blunt, a boring villain. Every third word from his mouth feels like it’s there to set up a sequel. The worst MCU movie in this reviewer’s opinion, Iron Man 2, is the one that felt like a trailer for the rest of the Cinematic Universe. Justice League is like a two-hour trailer for its own sequel. That setup, though, still feels scattershot and unfocused, as if they had an idea for the future and then decided to ditch it halfway through production. Now they are left with a half-formed idea that Steppenwolf keeps referring to.
The entire movie is being billed as some sort of event. The Justice League is finally on screen in live action! This is a big deal! The movie, however, isn’t a big deal. At least when you walked out of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad, you had some sort of reaction — even if it was negative. When you walked out of Wonder Woman, you also had a reaction, which was likely very positive. Justice League, however, leaves you with no reaction, because it means nothing. It’s not good enough to get excited about and it’s not bad enough to get worked up about. It’s just there — mediocre, forgettable, and insignificant.
Justice League is not the huge film event that Warner Bros., DC, or the fans wanted. While it isn’t a train wreck, it isn’t particularly good either. This should have been a big deal; this should have been huge — but instead it feels like any formulaic action movie that features larger-than-life personalities. A Justice League should be many things, but disposable should not be one of them.
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