I am going to preface this review by saying what many people have been asking about or want to know: Don’t fret, the film is not like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (even though I did not have the same dismay for BvS that many others seemingly had). Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the spoiler-free review.
While the DCEU has been constantly critiqued for its dark and gritty tone, the newest entry into DC Comics film world certainly strives for a light-heartedness that wasn’t seen until Wonder Woman hit theaters this summer. Ultimately, Justice League opted for a similar tone with more jokes and character banter than previously witnessed in past films and it only kind of worked.
Justice League picks up where BvS left off, with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) trying to rally a team of powerful entities together to fight an otherworldly threat he believes is coming. The Dark Knight, always the loner, sets out on his own and with trusty aide, Alfred (Jeremy Irons), instructing him along the way as he tries to lure out one of the Parademons he’s been spotting throughout Gotham City.
With the pest problem becoming more and more frequent and the mystery of the ‘cubes’ still unsolved, Bruce makes his move to locate the new recruits, starting with Arthur Curry, the Aquaman (Jason Momoa). As witnessed in the trailer, the meeting between the duo doesn’t exactly go well, which sends Bruce back to Gotham, chatting with Alfred about potential next steps.
Enter Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller), Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Barry, who “needs friends” and is all too eager to join the Batman’s ranks, while Victor is the most elusive of the new recruits. So, naturally, Bruce leaves the hard task of finding him up to Diana (women get sh*t done). But even with Wonder Woman herself asking for help, Victor remains a question mark as it pertains to the team. But one thing is for certain – Victor gets along with Diana faster than any other potential member of the team and the moments the pair share are great.
As always, you can feel director Zack Snyder’s influence. As most of the meetings between the new teammates take place in the darkness, there is an ominous feeling that reverberates through these scenes, which quite clearly signify impending danger – Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). Who is, unfortunately, probably one of the film’s biggest downfalls. The ‘destroyer of worlds’ isn’t nearly as intimidating as one would hope. Being a New God hailing from the planet of Apokolips and being larger than life, something about Steppenwolf doesn’t exactly translate well on-screen. He’s generic, quite one-dimensional and only has a few scenes in which he truly seems to be the dreaded antagonist he’s meant to be.
Villain aside, the film’s shining trait is truly its ensemble cast. There were many moments where the banter between the superheroes was reminiscent of what always made me love the Justice League in both the comic books and the animated television series from the early 2000s. The jokes were generally on point, their conversation and interactions held meaning, and overall it was fun to watch – minus some cringe-worthy moments re: Bruce and Diana. How the Themysciran Princess can be so calm and collected toward her broody teammate, I’ll never know (if I were in her armoured boots, I might have decked him already, but I digress).
The newcomers, specifically Flash and Cyborg, really made an impact and were definitely the scene stealers. Unfortunately, Aquaman seemed to be placed on the back burner in comparison to his peers but was still great. Truthfully, it was nice that in some way or another, every character has their own defining moment and chance to truly shine as the film progressed. This was probably what helped me move past the flaws, such as the inconsistency in tone, the lacklustre villain, the rush-through of some of the pacing (I actually wished the film was a little longer), and a narrative that wasn’t anything we haven’t witnessed before in terms of superhero capers.
The movie definitely has something for everyone, which can usually be a hit or a miss, but Justice League sometimes manages to pull it off. That being said, while the movie is not magnificent by any means, it still includes the excitement and fun many have been craving from the DCEU, while still maintaining enough dramatic tension for fans of Snyder’s vision. That being said, I do wish I could have seen what the film could have been without the reshoots by Joss Whedon.
Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash and Wonder Woman come together when Justice League hits theaters on November 17. Be sure to check it out!