Justice League (2017)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joss Whedon (screenplay)
Starring: Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill
MINOR SPOILER WARNING - If you literally know nothing about this film, and who might be in it, then don't read this until after you've seen the film.
Superman is dead (and he's definitely NOT coming back), it's raining in Metropolis, Lois Lane is sad, and the world has seemingly lost hope. Meanwhile, in Gotham, Batman starts to uncover the details of a new threat that could destroy the world. But, he's going to need help.
I had a surprisingly great time with this film. I mean sure, the story is simple, the villain is disappointing, the CGI is a bit sketchy, and Superman had a moustache. OH WAIT! No, he didn't. Thanks to that wonderful thing called "Movie Magic", Henry Cavill's moustache was IMPOSSIBLE to notice (if you don't know what I'm talking about, then look up the Justice League moustache fiasco).
Ah, the wonders of cinema.
Now, it's entirely possible that I only enjoyed this film because I had such incredibly low expectations for it after 2016's disappointing Batman V Superman, but this is definitely one of the better "DCEU" films. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Patty Jenkins' fantastic Wonder Woman (2017) movie, but it's still good fun.
There are some great performances from a fantastic cast, some good action scenes and a much-needed injection of humour into the dreary universe we've been given so far. Best of all, they finally got Superman right!!
I mean look:
Putting aside the awful CG moustache removal, I've always been a fan of Henry Cavill in the role of Superman. He's charismatic, charming and has worked exceptionally hard to gain the physique to play Superman. Given the chance, he could be the perfect iteration of this character. In previous films, we see an angry, angst-ridden version of Superman with no real motivation to save people. It seems like a burden to him. He lacks hope. In Justice League, however, we finally get to see Superman at his best; cheerfully helping in any way he can to save the day. We even see him smile a few times!
Gal Gadot is once again wonderful (ahaa) as Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa delivers a fantastic performance as Aquaman; portraying him as a straight-talking, rock n' roll badass.
I think Affleck's version of Batman is one of my favourite depictions of the character. He's tired, beaten, grizzled and surrounded by heroes far stronger than himself. He knows his limits and his flaws, but he continues trying to save the world. Because he's Batman; it's just what he does. We see him at his worst in Batman V Superman; paranoid, untrusting, and fearful. But, it seems that Superman's death has affected him.
Ezra Miller is pretty funny as a hyperactive and inexperienced version of The Flash; still learning to use his powers effectively. Although I thought his portrayal would have worked better as the Wally West version of the character, he's still great in this role..
Ray Fisher gives a pretty solid performance as a brooding Cyborg still struggling to come to terms with his newfound power. He definitely could have used some more screen time, however, as he is one of the more compelling characters in the film. There is a potentially interesting side-plot involving Cyborg and his connection to the mysterious Mother Boxes, but the film never develops it further. There are occasions where the CGI of Cyborg's suit looks decidedly... bad. Not quite what you'd expect from a film with a budget of about $300 million.
The biggest problem with this film is the main villain: Steppenwolf. We once again get a forgettable and flavourless villain with an evil plan that isn't particularly gripping or clever. He's big, he's bad, and he wants to destroy the planet. That's all the character development he receives. We get a large chunk of exposition, delivered by Wonder Woman, which outlines Steppenwolf's entire plan and backstory. There's no further depth to his character. There's no mystery to who he is or what he wants. No slow reveal of an intricately planned scheme. Everything we need to know about him is delivered to us about halfway through the film. It's lazy writing.
The first half of the film feels very rushed and almost forced. It rapidly skips from scene to scene, hurriedly introducing the different heroes, and giving us hints at their respective backstories. It's all a little jarring, and it doesn't give us much time to get to know them. The characters are the best element of this film, so it's a real shame they don't have proper story arcs.
Despite its flaws, I did still enjoy Justice League. The characters are all quite likeable, and there are some fun scenes showing the team interacting with one another. There are some great action sequences which showcase the abilities of each character, although questionable CGI can sometimes detract from it. The story leaves a lot to desire, and the main villain is bland and uninteresting, but I still think this film is worth watching.
In one line: Temper your expectations a bit and watch some superheroes punch some bad guys.