Justice League could have been worse. The DC superhero team up flick is a run-of-the-mill mediocre effort that shouldn’t be written off as a complete mess. There’s some decent moments here and there. The sum of the good parts: Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman is not enough to elevate Justice League into an above average spectacle.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a recommended prerequisite; recommended not because it is a great movie but that it’s a prologue to Justice League. Unfortunately, Justice League still has heavy lifting to do in the first act by having to properly bring The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman into the fold. Justice League is another set up movie to a future sequel which fewer people care about judging by all the empty theater seats on opening weekend.
Without it sounding too much like a backhanded compliment Justice League’s decision to streamline the story is good one. At the end of the day we just want to see all the superheroes come together and kick some ass. The powerful mother boxes are Justice League’s all purpose macguffin acting as a plot device multiple times throughout the 2 hour long run time.
The problem is that the story lacks a meaningful conflict to fully engage in. There’s not a point in the film that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. The big bad villain is Steppenwolf, you guessed it, he wants to destroy the world because … he’s the big bad villain. On the plus side he’s got the kind of face that makes it satisfying for our heroes to punch over and over again.
The best thing going for Justice League are the superheroes. The lighter interplay between the characters reflect the movie’s overall tone of not taking things too seriously. Some of the previous DC films forget that it should be kind of fun being a superhero. The revamped formula is “less brooding, more grinning at each other”. There’s a great sequence where Jason Momoa’s Aquaman gets to be expressive and has a good time beating up enemies. Aquaman’s costume and tattoos have a cool aesthetic. And for some reason the ladies in the theater kept giggling every time Momoa took off his shirt.
Each of the heroes have their own personal obstacle to come to terms with. For Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, he’s been brought back to life by his father although a part of him wishes he was dead. He’s part man, part machine. Sometimes one part gets the better of him. Cyborg is a decent addition to the team who should be better fleshed out in his own solo film.
Erza Miller’s The Flash is socially awkward. He’s supposedly the comedic relief but Batman delivers the funnier lines. There’s awkward silence when Miller tries to be funny. Maybe Miller’s take on Barry Allen will appeal to some. The CW version starring Grant Gustin is more likable. Ben Affleck is very good in reprising the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. And Gal Gadot seems even more confident as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Both Affleck and Gadot continue their on-screen chemistry together which is good thing since their characters anchor the film.
After all the hype over the years we finally got the big live action blockbuster Justice League! What we actually got is an uninspired, conventional comic book movie. There’s plenty of action to go around. But nothing that’s incredibly inventive or jaw droppingly awesome. The CGI doesn’t blend in well. Aside from Wonder Woman, we are still waiting for the rest of DC Universe to really take off. DC Universe has some decent pieces to work with. It certainly has catching up to do and needs to put all the pieces together. A middling superhero movie in 2017 doesn’t cut it, in fact it places Justice League as this year’s weakest offering in this popular genre.