(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0974015/ )
“I once thought I could protect the world by myself, but I was wrong. Working together, we saved the planet, and I believe that if we stay together as a team, we could be a force that could truly work for the ideals of peace and justice.”
“What, like a bunch of… super friends?”
“More like a Justice League.”
“You have no idea how corny that sounds.”
Oh boy. Justice League. Even before seeing this film, even before it was released, there has been a lot of excitement and dread about this movie. DC has been notably mishandling its properties left and right. Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad are the result of desperately scrambling to catch up with Marvel, and we can see the results of trying to cut corners. It shows. But after Wonder Woman, DC gained back a great deal of respect and trust from the fans. Did they deserve it? Did it work? Well, let’s find out.
The cast and acting is a mixed bag. On the upside, Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa just knocked it out of the park. While I’m not as extreme on Ben Affleck’s Batman as most, I still think he did a decent job here, but it’s hard to tell how good of a Batman he is until he gets a decent script, so time will tell with him. I still hate Henry Cavill as Superman. Bless his heart he tries, but he has never looked or sounded like Superman to me. Ray Fisher does an okay job as Cyborg, but… well, we’ll get to the problems with Cyborg. And Ezra Miller… oh shit Ezra Miller as Barry Allen. Do I have some opinions about this guy. Flash was never my favorite hero, but he’s a classic and adds an important dynamic to the team. There are certain times in the Justice League cartoon series where he was able to steal the show, but here is not one of those cases. I don’t know it it’s the casting, the direction, the writing, the interpretation, or some combination of those elements, but Ezra’s Flash is just miserable. He feels like The Flash as played by Sheldon Cooper. He’s rarely funny but always serves to makes scenes uncomfortable and highlight the crappy writing. He, like Cyborg and Aquaman, has a super abridged and shoehorned backstory that isn’t helping him in the slightest, he doesn’t look right, he doesn’t sound right, he doesn’t act right, and he just puts a bad taste in my mouth every time he’s on screen.
The action ranges from those close-up impossible to follow awful action scenes to some pretty good and well choreographed fights, but it’s all ruined by one thing: this movie has the biggest hard-on for slow-mo that I’ve seen in a LONG time, and some of the slow-mo shots are just ridiculous and drag on for far too long. I cannot tell you how boring these scenes can get. I’m practically shouting at the screen “YES, I DO SEE THAT. NOW GET THE HELL ON WITH IT!” It also does those unwatchable super slow-mo close up shots that, again, drag on FAR too long. But when it comes down to it, the action is probably unwatchable more often then it should be due to some truly awful cutting. I swear, I don’t know what it is, but it seems like so many movies nowadays can’t get their cuts right, and the whole genre suffers for it
The villain is awful. Bland, boring, forgetful, and he looks like CGI shit. Really nothing else to say, which is the main problem. The villain needs to be just as engrossing, interesting, and important as the main characters, but here he just feels like a set piece. A generic threat to drive the story and something for the good guys to punch. A lot of other super hero movies tend to struggle with villains, but this is a particularly awful showing.
Speaking of CGI shit, Cyborg just looks awful. It’s very obvious that he isn’t actually there, he’s over designed, and despite all of that, he still just looks boring in general. Just a CGI nightmare. Really, the CGI in general is pretty bad in this movie. I know a lot of people have problems with all the CGI being thrown around in movies nowadays, but I don’t mind it so long as it looks good. In Justice League, it just looks awful across the board, but the places it really needed to shine, Cyborg and the Villain (I seriously don’t even remember his name despite having just seen the movie, but he’s so generic that you can just call him Villain or Bad Guy can get the same effect) seem like that’s where it’s the worst. Maybe it’s just because our attention is drawn there more, but that’s all the more reason why more work needed to be put in there.
The writing. Holy dogshit is that some bad writing. It’s hard to go into detail without many spoilers, but trust me when I say that it’s REALLY bad. There are a few good lines here and there, and it was even capable of getting a chuckle or out of the audience (and I’m glad that this movie is TRYING to be a bit funny. Even though DC wants to go darker, comics at their heart are campy and fun, and it’s good to see some of that; the slightly lighter tone is welcome), but on a whole, the writing just made me cringe throughout. On top of that, there is so much goddamn exposition in this movie. And it is obvious why: They’re introducing three heroes and a villain in this movie, and as a result everything just feels so cramped. All this exposition is boring as hell and just makes me wish they had done this right and done all the main movies first! And once again, DC has gone just so dark and edgy with its writing that it strangled the life and energy out of nearly every character. Like I said, Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot do a good enough job to save their characters, but the same can’t be said for the others, including Flash, where Ezra just tries too hard and comes off as obnoxious. But by far the worst is Cyborg. He’s relegated to grumbling and brooding for 90% of the film; nothing like the cocky, wise-cracking, energetic bro that we would see in the likes of Teen Titans. He resembled nothing of the character I once loved, and instead just became another pawn in DC’s game to try and be taken seriously. Well DC? Did it work? You think I’m taking you more seriously than Guardians of the Galaxy because they made jokes and you’re choking out depressing lines with a gravely voice? Because I’m not.
And I touched on this earlier, but even though they certainly try with the comedy, most of it falls on its face. It’s not entirely the fault of comic relief Ezra Miller, but his bad delivery and acting certainly don’t help. It’s a combination of the acting, tone, and (mostly) the writing that kills any possibility of lightening the mood with comedy most of the time. But like I said, a few jokes do hit their mark all right, and I do appreciate the effort.
The plot is the standard “Bad guy wants evil McGuffins of destruction! We have to stop him!” Nothing too spectacular, but there is a very obvious slap in the face in the form of a Deus Ex Machina in the middle of the film. I won’t say what it is, but you’ll know it when you see it, and you can probably tell me what it is even without seeing the movie. And no, it isn’t even handled very well. And yes, they may as well have just summoned Shenron for show subtle it was if you catch my drift.
The movie doesn’t sound very impressive. This is far from Danny Elfman’s best work, and most of the time it’s either way too in your face (the funniest of which was what was supposed to be a heartfelt, touching scene where it sounded like two or three different songs were trying to fight over the right to tug on your heartstrings) or just left no impact. Frequently the movie is just extremely loud to the extent that it sometimes even drowns out dialogue.
Look, this movie isn’t terrible. I know I’ve been bagging on it for a while now, but it has some good character interactions at times, it can be funny, the action frequently works well, and I could even see some color come back into the characters cheeks at times. There were times were I almost started to have fun and almost started to see the team come together and start to slide into their roles. But almost isn’t good enough, and for every moment they almost got right, there are a dozen that they completely screwed up.
When it comes down to it, compared to how good it could have been, should have been, and honestly needed to be, it’s a dumpster fire. I would be willing to give this movie a 3… I really WANT to give this movie a 3, but in light of everything surrounding it, what has come before, what I think will come after, and how this movie tried to make up for its sins of the past and ultimately just made more mistakes along the way, I just can’t. I mean, it’s especially apparent in this year that has been just filled to the gills with quality superhero flicks: Guardians 2, Spiderman: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Logan… can you honestly say that Justice League holds a candle to any of those films? Of course not. The second you compare it to any of them, it becomes apparent just how pedestrian, cliche, and shallow this movie is. And in light of the damage that has been done, it’s hard to see any of these collaboration films ever working again within this universe, which is especially bad news for what was teased at the end of the credits. Really, this movie’s grave was dug before the script was even written because the foundation its built upon is so poor, and with this adding to what already existed, I don’t see that situation improving at all in the future.
I give Justice League a 2 out of 5.