Movie Review: Justice League

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work in DC Universe’s Justice League

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Justice League has been a major player in the pop culture zeitgeist for almost 60 years. Since debuting in 1960, the team has gone through many incarnations featuring various characters across multiple media formats. However, there is no official Justice League line-up without DC’s superhero trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. In the debut live-action film of DC Entertainment’s premiere team, a lot of expectations are exceeded. A film that many fans were dreading, Justice League turned out to be a pleasant surprise in the Superhero genre.

The DC Entertainment Universe has faced many issues since 2013, starting with the mediocre reception of Man of Steel. 2016’s Batman v Superman, and villain spin-off Suicide Squad were also poorly received. This was mostly due to their over-dependence of being dark and gritty. It wasn’t until this year’s Wonder Woman when critics and fans alike breathed a sigh of relief. The film greatly exceeded expectations. However, more doom and gloom lingered when it was announced that there would be re-shoots and another director was brought in.

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From the jump, Justice League separates itself from its predecessors with a heartwarming intro from a now deceased Superman (Henry Cavill). In this short scene, Superman is being interviewed by a group of kids for their podcast before quickly fading out. After this, we are introduced to Batman (Ben Affleck) watching a would-be criminal before the perp is met by a parademon. Batman subsequently chases down the parademon before it explodes, leaving an image of three boxes. Batman then meets up with Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and tries to decipher what it all means.

The film’s sole heroine, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), is introduced atop of the Themis statue in London. Wonder Woman soon breaks into the building below where a terrorist plot begins to unfold. This scene, like the Batman one, feels like it was ripped right out of the comics. The detail of the scenery and precision in the movements of the characters are wonderfully executed. The contrast between Wonder Woman’s and Batman’s scenes set the tone of the entire film itself. Wonder Woman is fun and lighthearted, while Batman is dark and grim.

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(l-r) Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) make their official debut in the DCEU.

Justice League marks the debut of three of its most popular alumni, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller). Their introductions are rather swift but very effective to the overall plot. Fisher and Miller both knock it out the park with their portrayals, while Momoa, who overall did a good job, felt a little underutilized in the film. But the clear standout was The Flash. In nearly every scene, Miller brought the humor that is expected from The Flash. The chemistry between the cast was obvious. Such as the sexual tension between Batman and Wonder Woman, and the bond between Cyborg and Flash.

Midway through the film, we get introduced to the main villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). A deity who was sent by Darkseid to collect the mother boxes. The film tries to explain his importance to the plot, but it gets muddled in a wordy flashback scene told from the perspective of Wonder Woman. In the flashback, we see cameos from what appears to be a Green Lantern and Zeus (father of Wonder Woman). Nevertheless, the entire scene feels like a cut scene from the DC fighting game Injustice 2.

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In fact, much of the film’s CGI looks poorly rendered, and even unfinished particularly with Cyborg and Steppenwolf. Both of whom are at least 90% CGI! The issues with the film don’t stop there. A lot of the film looked as if it were filmed on a green screen. I first noticed this with Aquaman’s introduction scene. The background behind him as he entered the water him appeared fake.

Another confusing element was bringing Superman back. After the team is temporarily defeated by Steppenwolf and his swarm of Parademons, Batman conceives an idea to bring Superman back from the dead. This is confusing because of the explanation of how they were going to do it.

Superman (Cavill) (top) unites with Justice League. (L-R) The Flash (Miller), Aquaman (Mamoa), Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), and Cyborg (Fisher)

Upon his resurrection, the League is met with a confused and angry Superman. This leads to them fighting off Supes in order to help him remember who he was. This is one of the most fun superhero scenes in cinema. Batman brings in Lois Lane (Amy Adams) to help calm Superman and bring him back to his old self.

The League teams up once more to fight Steppenwolf. This time they have much of an advantage. Meanwhile, Superman is off in Smallville trying to figure himself out. Once he gets himself together, he is reunited with his new teammates. They eventually whoop Steppenwolf’s ass!

Overall, the film is an enjoyable romp from start to finish. Despite some clustered CGI moments and minor plot holes, the film rose above expectations, creating one of the greatest comic book films in the superhero genre.

Also stick around for the two credit scenes!

Movie Review: Justice League
Actor Performances
Visual Effects
Character Development
Intense Action Sequences
Entertaining Character Interaction
Fluent Dialogue Moments
Weak Villain
Subpar CGI Moments
Confusing Plot Device