Justice League – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Justice League – 3/5 – Superheroes are big for many reasons, one of them is the popularity of comic book films.  With so many adaptations, people are exposed to a plethora of unique characters.  Justice League is a comic book film that bring all the big DC superheroes together for a common enemy.  Even with some obvious clichés and story flaws, Justice League provides enough to create an entertaining experience for DC/comic book fans.

Premise:  When Steppenwolf shows up to conquer the world, the DC heroes must unite to take on this galactic threat.

The actors/actresses in the superhero roles are:

Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne

Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince

Ezra Miller as The Flash/Barry Allen

Jason Momoa as Aquaman/Arthur Curry

Ray Fisher as Cyborg/Victor Stone

They do an excellent job bringing these characters to life by embodying what makes them stand out on the pages of the comic book.  From their powers to general instincts, you get a sense of their bravado, intrigue and colorful personalities.  From the returning trio (Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman) to the new comers (The Flash/Aquaman/Cyborg), they exude raw individualism on screen.  Their interactions help reflect on their purpose, desires and humanistic nature.  This grounds them from their ‘godly’ statuses, providing a relative link for the audience.  You see they have weaknesses that trouble their psyche.  This adds sporadic growth and whimsical banter.  The dialogue provides a ‘kinship’ mentality, adding fuel to the ‘team-up’ aura.  Even when some characters have rushed backstories, you still understand what they mean to the DC world.  Beyond these heroes, the rest of the secondary cast are basic.  These characters (including some returners), only provide conjunctions between scenes; becoming plot devices for the story.  Even when they are typical archetypes, the worst character belongs to the villain, Steppenwolf.  Voice by actor Ciaran Hinds, this is by far the worst written movie villain in the comic book genre.  Completely created with CGI, this character comes across as a footnote for a cliché bad guy whom only snarls, says one-liners and stand in as just an ‘obstacle’.  There is no purpose, growth or motivation to this character.  Steppenwolf drags the film down whenever he is on screen.

The direction goes along the basic outline of a superhero/team-up tale.  What you have is a cast of misfits that must join to stop an all-powerful villain.  On the surface, this is a predictable path for the arching DCEU storyline.  There isn’t anything here that you haven’t seen before that was done better.  The basic elements of this kind of outline are:

  1. Heroes (with semi-backstories)
  2. Villain (with a basic motive)
  3. Macguffin Plot device (sows everything together)
  4. Heavy Exposition (to generate purpose)
  5. Over-the-top battles (CGI explosions, characters, environments)

What makes it unbearable at times is the direction takes 2 of these items to the basic outline with no development.  The disjointed feeling between the developed aspects and one-dimensional setups cause fragmented scenes, unexplained circumstances and lingering plot threads.  With so much to jam in the first half, you see the quick edits causing the story to rush getting all the heroes together.  What you have is a first half that takes place in the aftermath of Batman v Superman, with a new ‘galactic’ villain coming to conquer the earth.  In this generic plot, what keeps it together are the returning characters of Batman and Wonder Woman.  There reasons to ‘bring the team’ together and character dynamic helps ground the film to the ‘hope and justice’ theme.  Once you hit the halfway point, the generic elements fall in the background and we are focused on the team.  This is when the film turns into something enjoyable.  As you watch these heroes interact, you get a sense of their honest selves.  This adds emotional worth to escapism.  Seeing what they must handle, you see their flaws when faced with insurmountable odds.  This leads to each member finding their real purpose to the team, showing what it means to be part of the Justice League.  Once you hit the climax, it is a clustering of CGI created battles and suspension of disbelief.  Even with all the unrealistic mayhem, you feel something genuine because they capture the essences of the comic book.  The final confrontation shows what it means to be a superhero.  Once the epilogue rolls, you have a sense of relief because of all that could have ruined the movie, the team helps bring it together in the end.

The visuals are a mix results.  In some parts, the CGI created environments stand out as colorful, dynamic and vivid.  In other scenes, the green screen is obvious and takes you out of the world.  With an up and down use of cinematography, you are left with a disjointed experienced.  The score has a mixture of old and new music.  There isn’t anything in the music that helps or hinders the film.

Justice League is a film filled with a lot of plot generic detail, but because of the team themselves, it is full of entertainment.  If you’re a fan of DC comics, this genre of the actors/actresses involved, check it out.  It is worth seeing theaters, at a matinee price.


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