17th Nov2017

‘Justice League’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Review by Matthew Turner

Stars: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, JK Simmons, Ciarán Hinds | Written by Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon | Directed by Zack Snyder


DC’s Justice League has had a famously troubled production history, from panicked reshoots and rewrites to director Zack Snyder having to leave the project due to a family tragedy. DC cannily drafted in Joss Whedon to finish the film, which lead to yet more reshoots and rewrites, as well as Whedon shooting a reputed 15 to 20 per cent of the finished film. Unfortunately, the patch-up job has been clumsily handled and the result is both ugly to look at and a slog to sit through, marred by shoddy effects work and a general lack of imagination.

The plot continues on directly from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead, the world is in mourning and crime is on the rise, as evidenced by the half-hearted montage that opens the film. When CGI demon Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) attacks the Earth in Superman’s absence, it’s up to Batman / Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman / Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to save the world, so they set about recruiting three other heroes: sassy speedster The Flash / Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), hunky, tattooed mer-man Aquaman / Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and half-man-half-robot Cyborg / Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), who’s only just come online and isn’t sure how he feels about the whole robot superhero thing just yet.

Meanwhile, Steppenwolf sets about retrieving three all-powerful-but-terribly-named “Mother Boxes” that will enable him to destroy the planet, laying waste to the Amazons of Themyscira in the process, in a prolonged sequence of savagery that could almost be read as Snyder’s resentment towards the success of Wonder Woman.

There are, admittedly, some great action moments, in particular an early fight scene involving Wonder Woman taking down some terrorist bombers in London, and a sequence involving The Flash that it would be churlish to spoil here – suffice it to say that his super-speed powers are milked for both action and comedy.

However, those great sequences stand in such stark contrast to the rest of the film that they end up breaking the flow, making it immediately obvious where the joins are between Snyder’s work and Whedon’s. It doesn’t help that the majority of the action sequences – particularly in the climax – suffer from CGI overload and are extremely tedious to watch, unless you like your action drowned out with noise and crackling bolts of electro-energy. Worse, the effects work in the final act (involving a small Russian town being overrun with whatever the Mother Boxes are doing) is horribly amateurish, making you wonder how it’s possible that a film that cost $300 million could end up looking so cheap.

Justice League‘s general ugliness and lack of imagination extends elsewhere too – even the interiors are really dull. There’s a scene where The Flash runs round the Bat-cave exclaiming how cool everything is, and you have to assume he doesn’t get out much, because it’s basically just a big grey garage with some bat-stuff in it.

The performances are fine, up to a point. Gadot’s white-hot charisma ensures that she walks away with the film, while Miller carves out a nice niche for himself as the comic support, though Momoa and Fisher are both under-served by the script and we learn next to nothing about them. Similarly, Affleck seems to have had the wind knocked out of him since Batman v Superman and his whole performance suggests he’s already decided he wants out of the whole capes and tights business altogether. The film’s biggest disappointment, however, is Steppenwolf, who has all the personality and dimension of a video game character.

Ultimately, the best thing Justice League has going for it is it’s running time, which, at a mere two hours, is at least 30 minutes shorter than Batman v Superman. A post-credits sting at the end of the film suggests a potentially intriguing set-up for a second Justice League movie, but it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting a follow-up if the sequel is going to be more of the same.

** 2/5


Comments are closed.