Actors: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Neilsen, Joe Morton, J.K. Simmons, Billy Crudup & Amber Heard
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Snyder, Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon
Studio: Warner Bros.
Yes, I saw it, and it filled me with joy.
Almost every element of the new DC cinematic universe (save for the Suicide Squad) turns up in this movie, and as I saw name after name of A-list actors in the opening credits, I wondered how all of these characters and a story that could link them all could fit coherently and comfortably in a two-hour movie. But they did, they do. People who haven’t cared for director Zack Snyder’s earlier movies in the DC franchise should be pleased with what they find here; this boasts the fun they sought. And for those who did enjoy Man of Steel and Batman Vs. Superman, Justice League builds on those foundations well, acknowledging them and evolving from them to offer something brighter.
A god-like warrior named Steppenwolf has come to Earth, intent on conquering it for his master and on transforming it into a replica of his alien homeworld. There are heroes — the Batman of Gotham, and a wondrous Amazonian warrior princess — who learn of the approaching danger, and they set out to recruit others to help them stave off the end of the world. They find a speedster, an Atlantean with attitude and a mechanical man, created by the very technology that threatens the planet. They fear they won’t be enough and lament that the Man of Steel isn’t with them anymore to save the day.
The movie boasts a fairly conventional plot, but definitely an accessible one. It also incorporates established DC movie elements and introduces new ones effectively and concisely. I was pleased with how well balanced the appearances and contributions of the supporting cast are, though to be honest, Ma Kent and Commissioner Gordon would lift right out of the movie rather easily.
Honestly, the only moments in the movie that took me right out of it were the two closeups on Wonder Woman’s butt, clad in red leather when she was in “civilian” garb. The shots were crafted for that purpose alone, and it completely runs contrary to the empowering nature of the character that’s so captivated the world this year. It was assuredly a misstep, but at least it was a fleeting one.
The Flash costume is definitely as awkward and clunky as it looked in the initial promotional images, and a redesign is in order. However, I have to admit I get the concept. It’s a high-tech, heat-resistant suit cobbled together by a kid, so it’s plausible. Clearly, the goal was to offer a realistic-looking speedster suit; I just don’t think the effort was necessary. Early looks at Cyborg didn’t instill confidence for many either, but I thought the computer-generated mechanical body looks pretty good throughout the movie. I especially liked it when Vic was covered up in sweats, trying to hide what he’d become. His shape always looked off in that hoodie, and his metal frame probably should look just a little off.
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg are all pretty much like their familiar comic-book incarnations (and past versions from other TV and film projects). The Flash and Aquaman are different beasts altogether. That’s bound to displease many, but I thoroughly enjoyed these radically different interpretations of classic characters. Barry Allen as a greenhorn super-hero works incredibly well, and his awkwardness and inexperience bring a fun, energetic and humorous dynamic to the group. And the Biker King of Atlantis, with a much more grounded and flippant attitude, was a brilliant addition to this cinematic universe. People, the Aquaman movie is going to be huge. Momoa is clearly having a great time with the role.
An opening scene in the flick suggested to me a brief political commentary. We’re shown the beginnings of a hate crime in the wake of Superman’s death, a growing anger that the loss of Superman — the loss of hope — has spawned. I couldn’t help but think of the political climate in the United States, with the rise of open intolerance in America corresponding to the Trump campaign and his election a year ago. It was far from a subtle moment, and had there been much more of that in the movie, the commentary would have ultimately hurt the movie. The filmmakers offer up that point and move on, focusing on building a fun, exciting epic for the audience to enjoy.
I thought Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was a great flick. It had its flaws, but ultimately, it was an intelligent and well-crafted piece of storytelling. It was dark, yes, but it slowly moved to a lighter place. Justice League is far from the same kind of movie, even though it sprouted from the seed that was BvS. It’s a much more straight-laced picture, but it’s tremendously fun. You’ll find a darker color palette here still than one does in the Marvel movies, but these DC movies aim for a more stylized look. Justice League isn’t a great movie, but it’s a good one — as good as Wonder Woman. For a longtime comic-book fan such me, there are so many moments that evoke smiles and exclamations of awe. 8/10