The DC Extended Universe has been under much scrutiny ever since its inception. The first film, “Man of Steel,” enjoyed a mixed-to-positive critical reception. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” further divided the wavering fans with its length and somewhat misleading title. “Suicide Squad” faced the worst mauling. The universal love for “Wonder Woman” gave viewers some hope, but “Justice League” still faced doubt.
“Justice League” is set a few months following the events of “Batman v Superman,” with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) trying to set up a team of other “meta-humans” such as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight an oncoming threat known as Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). However, Batman believes the team is not fully ready yet and still requires the aid of the deceased Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill), who may or may not live again to assist the newly formed team in defeating this new threat.
From the get-go, there is an obvious sense that there are some editing and tonal jumbles, most apparent in the opening 10 minutes. The film jumps all over the place during this introduction, with hastily put together with the introductions of Batman and Wonder Woman. However, the film manages to properly introduce the new characters of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg much more naturally. Once the team gets together, which thankfully is done briskly, the film begins to shine despite some problems.
The interactions and overall relationships within the team are strong and are all performed well to the best of each actors’ abilities, with the new standouts being Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa as the Flash and Aquaman, respectively. Gal Gadot continues her great work from “Wonder Woman” and Ben Affleck shines again as the legendary Batman, with Ray Fisher also putting in great work with as much as he is given to do. Henry Cavill is as strong as he was back in “Man of Steel” after feeling less spirited in “Batman v Superman.”
Unfortunately, there are a few issues with the film. The Computer-generated imagery (CGI), despite its strong moments, is at its worst when showcasing the enemy force known as the “Parademons” and the main antagonist Steppenwolf. Hinds’ character is terrible in his first scene, but the effects are gradually improved as the film goes on. Still, his CGI never is as good as the work on Cyborg or the The Flash.
Direction-wise, Zack Snyder continues to bring his A-game when delivering something that is visually pleasing to the eye (barring Steppenwolf and his army), and continues to be a visionary in visual storytelling. The script is stronger than “Batman v Superman” and especially better than “Suicide Squad,” but it still contains its ups and downs, although Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon work wonders with the more fun aspects of the dialogue.
The plot can be threadbare, but I feel that the most important thing to get right in this film, the Justice League, is done wonderfully. It is this strength, reinforced with the mostly good direction and better writing, coupled with strong performances from almost all parties, that helps “Justice League” be not only an effective team film, but a great and enjoyable time at the movies.
Film: “Justice League”
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Release Date: Nov. 17
Rating: 4.5 out of 5