After the miscalculation of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice both in the theatrical cut and the director’s cut version, most would have cut their losses and moved on. Not Zack Snyder and not DC Comics. Production delays, reshoots, rewrites and the changing of the guard from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon who hammered out a lighter script, we now have the latest incarnation from DC Comics. Only six weeks ago I saw a report from an industry insider who has stated that the version screened a few months earlier version was and I quote, “unwatchable”. Oh Boy. So it was with trepidation that I ventured into the theater to partake of Justice League.
The film, as we have seen in the trailers, drives home the reality that an invasion is coming. Who, what. where, when and how is not known. But with Superman taking the dirt nap, who will rise to defend the innocent? Batman or Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Albert (Jeremy Irons) start to dig deep and come up with a team to defend the innocents of the world. A Justice League, if you will. Consisting of Wonder Woman or Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), The Flash or Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), Aquaman or Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg or Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) along with Batman (Affleck), they unite to defeat the villain Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds). Not being familiar with the Justice League all that much, I envisioned it was the band brought out of the retirement villages of Boca Raton, Florida to wage war on those obnoxious groupies. But alas, no.
Steppenwolf is a formidable villain and a pretty high ranking one in the Darkseid Realm. He has returned to steal three boxes that, when used at once in the same spot, can render a planet to nothingness. The Justice League realizes that the five of them might be tough, but not tough enough to defeat Steppenwolf. With only one box remaining unclaimed by Steppenwolf, the League decides to use the box to get some much-needed help. Until we get to that point there is a lot of recruitment montages as Bruce Wayne travels the globe to assemble his team. Fortunately, not that much time is taken up with the actual recruitment. This gives Justice League some time to flesh out its characters. I think they could have been developed a little further and although Justice League is far from perfect, this entry into the DC Comics film realm is pretty darn fun. They are getting better.
Zack Snyder left the production after the horrific suicide of his daughter. I cannot imagine what pain he and his family are going through so my thoughts and prayers are truly with him and his family. His version of Justice League was a bit darker and more along the lines of his Batman Vs. Superman film. Joss Whedon was brought in and the difference is quite noticeable. Although Chris Terrio and Zack Snyder are still listed as writers of this film, you can spot the Joss Whedon humor that peppers the film and it works. The three of them have written a thoughtful and slyly humorous script that delves into the character of the Justice League. The best one of the bunch if The Flash. This film would not have been the same if The Flash was not in it. Ezra Miller brings a wisecracking Barry Allen who is still new to his powers and not sure what to do with them. Miller seems to be having fun and it becomes infectious. I smiled every time he came on the screen.
The rest of the cast does is admirable although as decent as Jason Momoa is, I don’t know if he can carry an entire film as Aquaman, himself. There is a stand-alone film in the works so time will tell, but here, he is more than capable as Aquaman. Ben Affleck is great as usual as Batman. He wears the tired, worn out look so well. It is as if he is one punch away from a retirement village, yet he keeps on truckin’. As a CGI villain, Steppenwolf is a rather tough hombre, wiping people out left and right and it does not take long for you to despise him. Once the plot is established the film is one long action sequence after another, but in this case, the action is brighter, with better effects and it seems to flow from the storyline a lot better than it did in Batman Vs. Superman. It actually is exciting in Justice League where it was tedious in Batman Vs. Superman.
The visual effects do tend to take over and overwhelm the story, but in this case, I did not mind it as much. Justice League is paced well and Zack Snyder’s direction keeps the characters and the action interesting which is also something that did not happen with Batman Vs. Superman. The cinematography by Fabian Wagner is beautiful and the editing team of David Brenner, Richard Pearson and Martin Walsh keep the action distinguishable which is also something that did not happen in Batman Vs, Superman. I was curious to hear how film score composer Danny Elfman’s score would fit into this kind of a film and the result is a rowdy and rambunctiously fun orchestral arrangement.
Justice League is a high energy action film that is loud, abrasive but fun. Don’t look for the answers to the universe, just sit back and enjoy the ride. All in all, this film succeeds where Batman Vs. Superman failed. It does not take itself too seriously and treats everything with a wink and a nod and I understood that. It put me at ease and I just sat back and watched it unfold. Sometimes that is all you need. For those who are curious, there are two post-credit scenes. One in the middle of the end credits between The Flash and Superman and the final sequence involves Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) all the way at the very end of the credits, so stay in your seat.
Justice League – ***1/2 out of 5
Justice League – Rated PG-13 for comic book violence and language.
Justice League – Run Time is 121 minutes
Justice League is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.