Released: November 2017
Director: Zack Snyder
Run Time: 121 Minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros./DC Comics
Genre: Action/Science Fiction
Ben Affleck: Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill: Clark Kent/Superman
Gal Gadot: Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller: Barry Allen/The Flash
Jason Momoa: Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ray Fisher: Victor Stone/Cyborg
Amy Adams: Lois Lane
Jeremy Irons: Alfred
Diane Lane: Martha Kent
J.K. Simmons: Commissioner Gordon
Ciaran Hinds: Steppenwolf(Voice)
Amber Heard: Mera
Joe Morton: Silas Stone
When Iron Man was released back in 2008, it was the first step in bringing about The Avengers. After a few movies, we finally got the Marvel Dream Team that everybody was hoping for in 2012. It was and is still one of the coolest superhero movies ever made. So, now that Marvel had The Avengers, what did Warner Bros. and DC have to offer? In 2013, the Superman reboot, Man of Steel was released to mostly positive reviews and gave the superhero a grittier and darker edge than we were used to seeing from the Big Blue Boy Scout. You want to know something? It worked. After the success of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. began working on a follow-up film that would essentially kick-off the DC Expanded Universe. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice began early pre-production and would finally see release in 2016 to mixed reviews. Wonder Woman was also in production and would be released in the summer of 2017. It was going to be the film that led up to the Justice League film that they’ve been planning for a while. After years of waiting and hoping, we finally get to see the first live-action Justice League movie. So….was it worth the wait?
By the end of Dawn of Justice, we saw Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman finally team up to take on the threat known as Doomsday, brought forth by the maniacal Lex Luthor. During the battle, Superman was killed and the world was left to question what would happen in Superman’s absence. As it turns out, his death had a very negative impact on the world. Chaos began to spread across the world and the appearance of three mysterious boxes began to worry certain people. One of these “Mother Boxes” was guarded by the Amazons on the island of Themyscera. When Superman died, these boxes began to shake and glow. A monstrous being known as Steppenwolf arrives through a portal to reclaim these boxes and claim dominion over the earth. Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince, as a result, began searching the world for beings who would have the ability to fight Steppenwolf and possibly save the planet. Their search brings them to Arthur Curry, also known as the Aquaman, Barry Allen a.k.a The Flash, and Victor Stone a.k.a Cyborg. However, the five of them may not be enough to fight the storm that is coming. As a follow-up film to Batman V. Superman, Justice League’s story is far less complicated and more stream-lined. It wastes no time with multiple sub-plots and gets right to the point. Honestly, that is probably the best direction that Zack Snyder could have gone in. Dawn of Jusice got a little too complicated for its own good, so it’s awesome to see a follow-up that’s easy to…well…follow. It’s also a far more light-hearted affair than the previous film. People had complained that Dawn of Justice got too serious. Well, I have good news, Justice League adds much-needed humor to the goings-on, and you know what? The jokes and humor are mostly on-point. There were more than a few times that I laughed out loud. It’s not a comedy, but it’s nowhere near as dire as Dawn.
I enjoyed the story, but how’s the rest of the film? Acting-wise, it’s pretty solid. Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck return as Wonder Woman and Batman, respectively. These two really knock it out of the park, I enjoyed their performances quite a bit. The fact that they are allowed more levity and humor makes the film a lot better. Now, we have new characters like The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. I have to tell you, Jason Momoa just nails it as Aquaman. He’s clearly physically built for the role, but his talents as an actor really elevate what could have been a fairly standard character. Ezra Miller is essentially the comic relief as The Flash. You know what? He’s actually pretty damned funny. Ray Fisher is pretty good as Cyborg, but his character has a few problems that I’ll discuss later. For those wanting to see Henry Cavill return as Superman, it’s worth the wait. That’s all I will say about him. Steppenwolf as a villain isn’t the strongest character here. We’re not really given a lot of motivation for why he does what he does and when he’s not on the screen, we forget about him. In the comics, Steppenwolf is the uncle and second-in-command of the supervillain/god, Darkseid. So, we know where the next film is most likely going to go. However, Steppenwolf is not the most compelling villain in Superman’s Rogue’s Gallery. J.K. Simmons would have been great as Gordon, had he been given more screen time.
Since Justice League IS an action movie, how’s the action? Pretty damned solid to be honest. Yeah, there’s a lot of CGI, but that’s to be expected in a film of this magnitude. You’re dealing with otherworldly monsters and characters that live underwater. It’s nowhere near as brutal as Dawn of Justice, but it’s got a lot of “holy shit” moments. This feels more like a superhero movie than Dawn did. It keeps the action flowing too. There are a few moments where it slows down a bit, but then it really kicks it up a notch. I loved the sequence where the Amazons were taking on Steppenwolf. That was pretty awesome. There’s a battle underneath Gotham’s river that’s pretty cool too. Everyone here gets their chance to shine as a superhero. Batman and Wonder Woman are pretty obvious, but Aquaman is freaking amazing once he gets his trident. The Flash is extraordinary as he basically moves really fast, but it’s done in such a way that’s really cool.
Now let’s talk about what the film didn’t get right. First of all, the film feels a little too short for what’s going on and with the amount of new characters that were introduced. This could have used an extra 10-15 minutes to really get to know the new superheroes. Some of the characters feel like they got the short end of the stick. Cyborg is probably my least favorite of the bunch. It’s not because Fisher’s a bad actor, he isn’t, but the character is mostly CGI, and sometimes the CG isn’t that good. Steppenwolf is ALL CGI. I like the design, I just don’t like how the character doesn’t feel real. Some of the humor doesn’t quite land, especially in the face of some pretty dark moments. The 121 minute run-time mandated by Warner Bros. was a really bad idea as the film feels a little rushed. While the negatives really don’t impact one’s enjoyment of the film, they are noticeable and could have been dealt with. Hopefully, with the DVD/Blu-Ray, we’ll get an extended cut that will flesh things out a little bit more. It wasn’t cut all to hell the way that Dawn of Justice was, but there are certain moments that just….end.
So…was Justice League worth the wait? Yes. Yes it was. Is it the greatest comic-book movie ever made? Not remotely. Is it the best DC movie ever made? Again, no, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. It gives me hope that they are changing course for the better and making the effort to make sure these DC movies are better than what they have been. I wouldn’t put Justice League up there with Wonder Woman or Logan, but it is a pretty damned good time. It does what it sets out to do and nothing more. It’s exciting, intense and funny all at the same time. It even has a few moments of genuine humanity peppered throughout the picture. The chemistry between the characters is what elevates this film above obscurity. They mostly work very well together and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next film. For those of you hoping that this film would be better than Dawn of Justice, you may rest easy. It is. I gave the extended cut of Dawn an 8.5/10 because it improved upon the messy theatrical release. So, for those of you just looking for a good time, Justice League has it in spades. It’s worth checking out.
My Final Recommendation: Yes. Yes, you may enjoy this one. 8.5/10