REVIEW: “Justice League”

Warner Bros. Pictures - Youtube

Jonathan Montague, Contributing Writer

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We live in an age of superhero movies — one that has dominated the silver screen for the last decade. Good or bad, seeing our childhood heroes and heroines realized in live-action has been incredible for many, including myself. To that point, while Marvel Studios has been turning out high quality films with a continuity for the entirety of that time, Warner Bros. movies for DC have been less than impressive, with the only exception being this year’s “Wonder Woman.” However, while I do not believe the film to be perfect by any means, I do think “Justice League” is worth your time.

“Justice League” follows Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as they try valiantly to carry on in a chaotic world without Superman. As things grow more unstable, Steppenwolf, the great threat heralded by Lex Luthor, arrives with plans to dominate our world through the power of the Mother Boxes. To combat this threat, the Dark Knight and the Amazing Amazon recruit new allies to combat the conqueror: Aquaman the King of the Seas, Flash the Scarlet Speedster and Cyborg the Mechanical Marvel.

“Justice League” is a very lighthearted, fun film — much more so than other DC films. Unfortunately, said tone works against it as much as it helps. Some events simply do not carry the emotional weight you feel they should, which causes those moments to fall flat. Still, the lighter tone and more vibrant colors of this film is certainly an improvement when compared to the standard dark, dreary atmosphere, set by “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

The plot, similar to the “Avengers,” is somewhat formulaic, but that does not detract from the film. They instead decide to focus on introducing new characters Barry Allen, Victor Stone, and Arthur Curry, who make their debut appearances here. The script contains many more comedic scenes which keep the story light. However, the movie’s studio-mandated runtime of two hours hinders the film as the pacing is much faster than their previous films. Several scenes end very quickly and make you feel like more footage was planned and/or shot and was subsequently cut out in post-production.

Batman, as a character, feels a great deal of guilt over Superman’s death and wants to honor his memory by saving the world he cared about, which shows the growth his character has undergone from the last movie. Diana is slowly reintegrating herself back into society through her Wonder Woman persona, but clearly has some room for change of her own. Victor, Barry and Arthur are currently looking for purpose in their new situations. Most of them reach a new status quo by the end of the film and have interesting stories set up that can be developed and resolved in future movies. Barry was a suitable comic relief, as well as Aquaman, but the latter did start to grate on me towards the end of the film. Steppenwolf, however, is lacking as a villain. Little time is given to him explaining his motivations, with the heroes explaining them instead.

The acting is nothing spectacular, but I would say that they all did a fine job. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot step seamlessly back into their roles, while each of the newcomers range from decent to impressive. Several high-profile actors, such as J.K. Simmons, play bit parts clearly meant to set them up for future outings, but they feel tacked on without sufficient screen time, considering which characters are included. They are not bad but sometimes feel unnecessary.

As for the visuals, the effects are impressive in many areas but are lacking considering the film’s $300 million budget. One thing I did enjoy, though, is how Superman now lands gracefully rather than cracking the ground through the force of impact. Another is their portrayal of the Speed Force, which differs greatly in a good way from the Flash TV show, though I think I still prefer the TV version. The score of this film was quite forgettable, which was a shame. Lastly, this film delivers on the spectacle of seeing DC Comics’ greatest heroes working together for the first time on the big screen, each showcasing their varied and fantastical skills.

Overall, Justice League is a flawed movie, but it rises above its flaws just enough to offer an enjoyable experience. Many threads are left open for sequels to resolve, meaning they clearly have plans laid out, which is exciting. Furthermore, there are some neat Easter eggs that will excite true DC fans. This film certainly deserves attention at the box office and I hope it receives it.