Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons
4 (Out of 5) Globes
Plot: Following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) and the rise of the villainous Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and his army, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists the help of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to try and foil him. But the duo can’t do it alone. With just a couple of days to form an alliance, they work quickly to bring together Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and the Flash (Ezra Miller), each of whom are super human in one way or another, but are also still getting to grips with either their skills or working as part of a team.
Review: It is hard to quantify just how polarizing the DC Extended Universe has been ever since 2013’s “Man Of Steel.” While it was mostly die-hard Superman fans that took umbrage with aspects of that film, both audiences and critics alike derided the 2016 double whammy of “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.”
“Wonder Woman” helped to steady the ship earlier this year, earning the critical acclaim to match the financial success its predecessors had no such problem amassing, while setting the DCEU apart from its superhero rivals. “Justice League” continues on that trend, delivering every aspect of blockbuster cinema you desire and establishing a new foundation from which the DCEU can grow.
It’s not perfect, though. Its villain is threadbare, its use of CGI is questionable, and its stakes, especially in reference to past DCEU films, don’t always work. But even some of those imperfections actually aid “Justice League.” More on that later, though. Because, for now, let’s focus on the good.
There’s plenty, too. The most gleaming of which is just how pitch perfect each member of the Justice League is. That goes from what we’re shown in “Justice League,” what’s left out and teased for their solo films, their immediately idiosyncratic personalities and personal toils, the way they mesh together as the titular posse, and just how impeccably they have been cast.
Ezra Miller is destined to be “Justice League’s” standout star, which is completely understandable as every word he utters is pure gold, and his youth, vulnerability, and just the sheer coolness of watching The Flash in motion and action make him immensely eye-catching. The possibilities for the character endless. But Ray Fisher as Cyborg and Jason Momoa as Aquaman instantly look the part, while Affleck’s Batman already feels distinct and richer than previous incarnations and it is just a fact that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is now an icon. They each are given moments to show off their skillset in a rousing manner, both individually and collectively, and are funny in a way that’s recognizable, and not at the expense of their storied characterization.
All which helps to make “Justice League” a ridiculously fun and funny, action-filled, superbly entertaining joyride, which at under two hours long has a breeze and fluidity that other installments from the DCEU have been severely lacking. That is all the more impressive because “Justice League” blends its comic-book source material with a world that contains the epic, grandiose mythology of the Amazons and the Atlanteans, but still reflects the current climate we live in.
Throughout the film various members of the Justice League mention that they don’t recognize this fearful world, and at one point a group of hostages are even threatened with a suicide bomber. The allusion isn’t rammed down your throat, but it is still enough to make an impression.
Behind the camera, the combination of Zack Snyder’s eye for the spectacular and the wit of Joss Whedon, who conducted the extensive reshoots after the death of Snyder’s daughter, might not blend seamlessly at first, but come the finale they are in a hypnotic cohesion. Not only can’t you tell which director has helmed a scene, but you give up trying to spot it, too, as the film oozes a confidence and spirit that you immediately want to bathe in.
What about those problems, though? Well, Steppenwolf is instantly forgettable as a villain. But even that is understandable considering just how bloated and uneven the focus on Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) made “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.” Even “Justice League’s” painfully simple plot allows it to focus on the positives, the titular team themselves, and means that its themes of hopefulness and unity shine through even stronger.
“Justice League” doesn’t break the formula, but it has the cast, spectacle, and characters to be elevated abiding by it. As such, “Justice League” stands on “Wonder Woman’s” shoulders to leap into infinity, and you’ll leave it believing “Aquaman,” “Flashpoint,” “Wonder Woman 2,” “Cyborg,” “Green Lantern Corps,” “Batman,” “Man Of Steel 2,” can take the DCEU into the beyond.