Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa
Director: Zack Snyder
Running Time: 120 mins
Justice League is an American film and the fifth in the DC Extended Universe. With Earth threatened by an enemy greater than ever before, Bruce Wayne joins forces with Diana Prince to recruit a team of heroes to save the world.
It seems that DC just can’t hit the mark spot on. While Wonder Woman proved a very entertaining success, Justice League represents a step backwards in the DC Extended Universe. Although it is a fairly fun blockbuster, and a small improvement on the messy Batman v Superman, it’s still a clunky, visually ugly and poorly directed superhero movie that just feels like it’s trying too hard, all of which makes for a rather frustrating watch at times.
However, we’ll start with the positives, and one of the things that I enjoyed most about Justice League was the team dynamic between the lead heroes. Although character depth in each individual superhero is severely lacking, which means their back stories are less than riveting to watch, the six of them are all actually a lot of fun to watch working together.
In similar fashion to how The Avengers introduced us to the team, Justice League pits a whole bunch of clashing personalities into one team and forces them to work together. However, rather than seeing any bickering, the personality clashes between individuals make for a few good laughs throughout, while the range of powers and abilities is generally split well between the group, although there are times when it seems as if Superman is insanely overpowered in comparison to his colleagues.
In general, however, the Justice League all work well together, which is great fun to see. And another reason that that’s the case is because the performances here are all pretty strong. Despite the likes of Henry Cavill and Amy Adams being somewhat absent from the story as a whole, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and especially Ezra Miller are all really entertaining action heroes, bringing good charisma to their roles and having excellent chemistry with one another, adding to the successful team dynamic of the film as a whole.
When it comes to the story, however, things start to take a turn for the worse. On the one hand, the plot is a marked improvement on Batman v Superman. While that film was insanely overstuffed with up to six different story lines, Justice League is a lot more streamlined, and as such doesn’t feel anywhere near as messy or poorly thought out, which means it’s definitely an easier and lighter film to sit back and watch.
However, that simpler side to the story is also where this film falls down. Although it’s by no means as empty and dull as Suicide Squad, it feels very basic and clunky throughout. Starting with a very formulaic opening act where we see the backstories of a couple of new characters before they join the Justice League, things feel a little too simple and generic, with no real passion or excitement coming from any of the developments in the film’s first third.
The second act is better, and with the team working together in a few action sequences, it’s a simple and entertaining watch, getting closer to what Wonder Woman did so well with a streamlined blockbuster plot. The third act, however, is a bit of a mess, partly due to the generic save the world climax, as well as Superman’s clear excessive power, to the point where he could arguably do everything on his own, but also because it’s an absolute visual nightmare.
And that’s where we come onto the film’s worst point: the directing. I wasn’t a fan of Zack Snyder’s darker style in Man Of Steel or Batman v Superman, but at those times I felt if he developed it and stuck to it a little more, the DC Extended Universe could work well as its own, slightly more serious alternative to the bright and happy world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, the failings of Justice League all point to the fact that it seems like Zack Snyder’s persistence hasn’t paid off. The film’s visually disgusting finale is key evidence for this, as although it embraces the more fun-loving blockbuster vibes that made Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman so entertaining, the ugly CGI and bleak brown, grey and orange colour pallete really makes it unpleasant to look at, and it all looks an absolute mess of dullness, surely not what you want to see from a comic book movie.
What’s more is that it seems as if these characters all do work better in a brighter, more comedic light. Again, we’ve seen Wonder Woman work well in that, but with the excellent comic relief of The Flash in this film, and the general strong chemistry between the team members in the lighter-hearted scenes, it’s clear that the darker, duller vibes just aren’t the way forward, and if DC really wants to see their universe survive against the unstoppable force of Marvel, then it has to embrace a lighter atmosphere and visual pallete more akin to what Wonder Woman pulled off earlier this year.
Overall, Justice League is a little bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it is a fairly entertaining blockbuster, and it’s good fun to see a whole bunch of likable heroes fighting together. However, with a basic and clunky story that’s worsened by ugly visuals and poor directing throughout, it’s still not the movie that these classic heroes deserve, and it makes for a regularly frustrating watch when it just can’t get out of its ineffective moody vibes, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.