So.. hey. Hello again.
If you’re expecting to read another one of my scathing reviews of DC/WB superhero film reviews, then steer elsewhere– Justice League is a fine, enjoyable enough romp that sees great teamwork, witty banter and its fair share of “OMG!” moments. It’s far.. far from perfect, and righteously so; these peeps have had quite the steep hill to climb. Despite the exit of a visionary, a few re-writes, a few re-shoots, and a shaken leading man, the DCEU’s latest capes & cowls extravaganza does almost everything decent, starting with Wonder Woman.
Again, Gal Gadot is magic. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the actress’ on-screen aura; her rapturous presence, as witnessed in July’s Wonder Woman and in this opening weekend’s Justice League, goes far above any celestial eye-candy. Gadot’s eyes sing to the lens, dripping of past Amazonian inner-conflict and any future as a global crime-fighting goddess. And no matter what the “professional” critics think, these films will keep getting made so long as WB has this wonder woman in their corner.
That said, the movie is called the Justice League and, thankfully for the most part, the actors bring their “A” game (pun intended). Prior casting worries calmed. Interest for each of the new Leaguer’s solo outings should spring tenfold, thanks to the crew’s perfectly fine screen presence, newfound witty banter, and far greater chemistry than imagined. The actors perform like they genuinely enjoyed clowning around and clowning each other on set and it shows. Ezra Miller, easily the casting I questioned the most, zigged and zagged his every quip with lightning precision. If not for Gadot, this Flash may have stole the show.
In the film’s scenes that require a deep diving brute, Jason Mamoa proves he has the potential to own a solo; let’s just hope his Aquaman has more density than his mostly broey persona witnessed here. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) has the most cool stuff to play with — this side of Batfleck — but he broods about his synthetic body, you sorta kinda feel sorry for him (not really), and then he slowly replaces Martian Manhunter. I like Vic as the thought-provoking recluse that still shows a mesh of his jazzy former star-athlete side, as read in David Walker’s all-too-brief comic book run. That Cyborg makes him a compelling, modern day replacement. Fingers crossed.
And then there’s Batman. The months leading to Justice League have been nothing short of a “Darkseid” PR nightmare for Ben Affleck, and a possible nightcrawling, southpaw replacement has already been highly publicized. Today. On the eve of the official wide theatrical release. That said, the Bruce Wayne that opened the eyes of even the biggest of MCU fanboy trolls sorta mails this one in; that’s not an entirely bad thing, since Batman, especially in the famed Frank Miller run this particular bats is based on, is supposed to be an aging, agonizing dick. Affleck’s performance is mostly hit, but lacks the conviction and unbridled passion we all (mostly) loved from him in Dawn of Justice and — especially — from that of Christian Bale in the TDK trilogy.
Ben may have the perfect chin for the cowl, but even I have to admit there’s no reason to beat a dying bat. Yeah, even with a few shining one-liners and the quick allure of a fully-stocked liquor cabinet, this Wayne is definitely World’s Finest with.. ohyouknowho. And to think I might be the only person on the planet who wants a Final Crisis-inspired sequel to BvS…
Tonally, Justice League is all over the place. Are The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes last-second director Joss Whedon’s barb-trading, rag-tag Avengers? Or, are they the o.g. Zack Snyder‘s not-so-merry band of dark night metalheads? Despite a more than feasible story that flows better than it should, we see both methods go to work, and not always in conjunction with one another. The plot structure is suspect. When shit gets real with Mango.. Steppenwolf, an appreciably better villain than the lame, body-morphing Ares and the steaming hot lava disaster of Doomday, the Leaguers lose much of their fantastic wit found earlier in the film’s initial Batcave and Flying Fox settings. “Bro!”, did Joss not look over the script’s climax?
At least Steppenwolf is convincing, although not convingly CGI– like most of the poor green-screen that plagues a good portion of the movie’s scenery. The few exceptions are highlighted by awesome in-house battles that’ll make some moviegoers speed home to their next-gen consoles quicker than you can say Barry Allen. Injustice, indeed. When those god-like encounters go wayside, the Leaguers play nice together in a rewarding action finale that appears as if it were ripped out of the pages of Grant Morrison’s famed run. Both post-credits bonus scenes are neat, as well.
Look, as much as this review could’ve have gone in the more social media-soaked direction of either: a.) being mad at people for hating the movie before it releases, or b.) being mad at Whedon for tweeking Snyder’s doom-and-gloom Universe for a lighter, more “Disnefied” one, I opted to be boring. I like this movie. I like Thor: Ragnarok. Hell, I like Thor: Ragnarok much more than this. But despite all its red flags and critical hearsay, Snyder, Whedon, and scriptwriter unsung hero Chris Terrio‘s Justice League winds up a cool, often fan-pleasing experience. Why must we choose? Why can’t we just like something? Why do you feel the need to suck the joy out of something that, hey, maybe some people might actually like? We don’t have to love it. Not everything has to be The Dark Knight, Avengers, or Iron Man. Some geek films can be enjoyable without being great.
Warner Bros Motion Pictures’ Justice League is open everywhere good movies are shown.