Well, it’s finally here. DC is playing a big game of catch-up to Marvel but they’re finally uniting the Justice League on screen for the first time. The track record for the DC Extended Universe is pretty abysmal aside from Wonder Woman, so can this movie continue the upward momentum?
Following Batman v Superman, Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead and this means some alien threats might now feel comfortable attacking Earth. A general named Steppenwolf arrives to steal three mysterious boxes, including one protected by the Amazonians and one by the Atlanteans. Batman (Ben Affleck) must recruit a team to stop Steppenwolf, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). We also have Superman’s lover Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Gotham City Commissioner, James Gordon (J.K. Simmons).
Most of the best parts of this film are the factors we already knew would kind of work, things that have worked before. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman leads the charge, fresh off the success of her own film. Affleck as Batman is a little more mixed, as his brooding personality walks a fine line with apathy, made more prominent by the rumors that Affleck is trying to leave the DC franchise.
The other standout is Ezra Miller, who brings some fresh new energy to the cast and (for me) was the comedic standout. He is very much a different Barry Allen from the CW television series, which is a smart move, and his light-hearted nature makes this bleak film a little more enjoyable.
This, at its core, is a Zack Snyder film and he brings the same style and zest to the action sequences that he’s known for. It’s outlandish and beyond reason, as somehow every hero on screen can do epic feats regardless of their powers, but it looks great and is a blast to watch.
What didn’t work?
For every hero that works, there’s one that doesn’t. The weakest link, in my opinion, was Cyborg. His mechanical nature makes him incredibly boring and without personality but it was really the CGI effects that appalled me the most. Cyborg could have easily been practical effects, instead his entire being is CGI, even his face. It’s incredibly distracting.
I also found Aquaman to be incredibly one-dimensional as well, which was a risk considering they were introducing three new characters in a film that was only two hours long. The only thing we learn about his backstory is a few lines exchanged with another Atlantean (Amber Heard) but it’s probably gibberish if you don’t know the source material. They also let him say way more curse words than I expected from a comic book film.
This movie also had a lackluster villain, entirely CGI and lacking both personality and motivation. It seemed like a weird choice to go with a D-list villain for this huge occasion.
The climax for this movie felt very familiar, featuring a CGI villain in a huge landscape that is pretty much abandoned (aside from the focus on one family, which was not a good use of screentime at all). This felt like Doomsday and Ares all over again.
My biggest complaint is that this movie is a missed opportunity. It was rushed and re-shot and it would’ve benefited from coming out after solo movies for Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. They also don’t seem to have much of a plan, especially considering the rewrites and re-imagining of the next Batman film (which might make this film’s after-credits scene pointless). It’s messy, lackluster, and overall fairly mediocre, which is a huge bummer.
This movie disappoints though isn’t offensively bad (as say Suicide Squad). Wonder Woman and the Flash steal the show, while characters like Cyborg stick out like a sore thumb. The villain and the “end of the world” plot are familiar and kind of boring, though it’s fun to see the history of the DC Extended Universe in some cool flashbacks. Overall, this movie missed a lot of opportunities to excel but many of you will still have a fun time.