Justice League (2017)
Release Date: November 17th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Zack Snyder Actors: Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill, Diane Lane, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Irons, Ray Fisher, Joe Morton, Amber Heard, J.K. Simmons, Billy Crudup, Connie Nielsen
n an effort to distance itself from its predecessors’ settings, “Justice League” moves the conflict to a more alien realm. Similar to many of Thor’s opponents, DC’s latest superhero outing summons a villain from another dimension to engage the gathering of deific protagonists. Invincible characters clash in a flurry of sparks in a desolate and unfamiliar land, never truly wounding each other or presenting relatable peril. There’s little emotion, humanity, or consequence amongst all the flashing lights and crackling explosions on a seemingly distant planet.
Excitement and adventure aren’t entirely absent, especially as the crimefighters exponentially increase their destructive output by joining forces amidst swelling music (even including a few brief nods to much-loved theme songs of the past). There’s just nothing profound or original about this newest assemblage. From the plot to the horned malefactor to the undefined abilities of the combatants, “Justice League” has become a mere formula for a superhero movie – and not a significant contribution to the genre.
After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), hope has plummeted and fear has risen across the globe. While Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) attempt to stave off the increase in crime, a new threat materializes. Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds, who never manages to emerge from this computer-animated monstrosity), a being with an unquenchable thirst for destruction, amasses an army of zombified parademons to invade Earth, intent on uniting three long-hidden “Mother Boxes” that will release a world-ending chaos. Determined to thwart this impending calamity, Batman gathers together a team of superheroes, including Wonder Woman, The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) to confront Steppenwolf and end his diabolical scheme. But even the greatest heroes on Earth prove to be no match for the demonic overlord, forcing the fledgling “Justice League” to seek help from another …
“Justice League” was made in part by Cruel & Unusual Films – an irony that might be lost on the production company. From the first few seconds of the picture, characters are diving and lunging and flipping in slow-motion, which is one of the cardinal sins of superhero adventures. Defying gravity in ever more phony ways simply doesn’t generate excitement; the use of special effects to disguise – or utterly replace – genuine stunts or realistic fight choreography is exasperating. And if it weren’t bad enough that Batman is introduced in just such a way, there are so many additional introductions that adopt this perplexingly worn-out style. Even when Wonder Woman blocks an entire magazine of rapidly discharged machine gun bullets with her body, the execution is so poor that any thrills are nonexistent.
“I don’t recognize this world,” states butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), right after referencing the old days of combating a villain like the Penguin, which brings up an idea that might have been more amusing to watch. Here, the use of a fresh horde of space aliens as an endless source of enemy soldiers, paired with a CG giant with horns, a scarred face, and an oversized magical axe, is so bland that it hardly matters if they’re based on source materials with pre-sold fans. Plus, Steppenwolf’s indeterminate powers, his unexplained knowledge of the location of the Mother Boxes (and how to use them or why they’re necessary), and his meaningless motive of evildoing for the sake of evildoing further contribute to an opponent unworthy of so many superheroes. Fortunately for the Justice League, Steppenwolf also leaves for huge chunks of time, solely to give them opportunities to plan his defeat. In the villain department, there’s nothing even remotely different from the last few Avengers ensembles.
Meanwhile, Batman’s technology wildly overcompensates as Steppenwolf’s formidability remains unmatchable, causing the Dark Knight’s role to begin appearing like Black Widow or Hawkeye from “The Avengers”: a significantly inferior, puny human who can’t compete against the likes of gods. And though his lack of superpowers prevents him from fitting in, he’s not the only one who doesn’t mesh; with five other stars, numerous sequences feel like they belong in different films. Even a random Russian family is bizarrely given more screentime than Superman himself – an inclusion that hardly presents a surprise. Meanwhile, the amount of comedy should either triple or be removed altogether; the chemistry between the characters is observably feigned; and the finale harks back to the mess of punches and explosions from “Wonder Woman” (though here it’s a smidgen more comprehensible). Despite the awesome collection of notable comic book protagonists and the abundance of action, “Justice League” just isn’t any fun.
– The Massie Twins