When I think about the DC cinematic universe, I often forget how much I like each individual movie (Except Suicide Squad…) – Man of Steel was a good standalone film that they just-about managed to stretch/force into the start of a new universe; I really really like Batman VS Superman (I think the Ultimate Edition of the film is near perfect), and Wonder Woman was great… But like I said, we don’t talk about Suicide Squad.
It slightly infuriates me that DC / Warner Bros. aren’t too confident to do their own thing and always seem to be changing with the tide of the current box office as far as the tone of their films is concerned, and the fact that they’ve tried to cram into a few years and films what Marvel have achieved in 10 long years and many films is risky to say the least.
Anyway my anticipation for Justice League was high; I’d avoided trailers and reviews to form my own opinion, but it’s still the first live action formation of my second favourite super hero team of all time. Overall it was a really enjoyable film however it does have some massive flaws which are difficult to ignore. It’s an average film which I’d put below Batman VS Superman and Wonder Woman, but the painful thing is that there’s definitely a 10/10 movie in there somewhere.
***SPOILERS FOR JUSTICE LEAGUE AHEAD***
The story line is EXTREMELY SIMPLE in nature; Steppenwolf wants the Mother Boxes so he can turn the Earth into his home world, and the Justice League need to stop him from achieving his goals (…Obviously…), Steppenwolf gets the boxes, the Justice League defeat him in the nick of time, and that’s about it… Except for the return of Superman weaved in.
It took me a good 15 minutes to really sink into the film and enjoy it, which is odd as it opened with a gritty Batman scene; somehow Batman knew that the Parademons were addicted to fear and was using a criminal as bait to draw one out – The beginning of the film jumped from one hero to another, catching up with Wonder Woman in London at first – These scenes were actually a bit pointless honestly; it jumps around a lot from hero to hero which is slightly jarring, Cyborg has been hiding in his dad’s apartment thinking himself a monster, for example – Cyborg works as a character and Ray Fisher plays the part of the man-come-machine quote well, unfortunately the sub-par CGI really affects the characters and pulled me out of it quite often (This is an issue throughout the film) – Cutting to The Flash, who is visiting his dad in prison, Batman needs to get the Mother Boxes and meets Aquaman, and the others along the way – The way these scenes are constructed are all fine on their own, but there’s no real segway between each scene, and some of these side updates are really just there to pad out the film (Like Flash visiting his dad). We also catch up with Lois Lane who no longer writes deep news stories because her boyfriend is dead. Cheery.
Steppenwolf takes the Mother Boxes from Themyscira and Atlantis (These scenes are cool but Steppenwolf literally looks like a videogame character so it’s really hard to take him seriously) and takes them to an abandoned part of Russia, assumedly to avoid civilian casualties… We’re then introduced to a pointless family who live in a nearby house and for some reason the film constantly checks in with them until the end (They eventually get saved by Flash). This, and some of the catchup scenes do bring some yawns to the theatre, but there are some great moments in Justice League.
There’s a scene in Gotham harbour where the League save some civilians (Coincidentally including Cyborg’s dad) and the League honestly get pretty destroyed; the action itself is really enjoyable and there’s a highlight where Flash slo-mo taps Diana’s sword back into her hand which she uses to slice a parademon in half, which was pure hype – They’ve managed to make Flash’s speed force look really unique in the film, which is an achievement with the amount of live action speedsters we’ve had in recent years. Eventually Steppenwolf escapes but Aquaman joins the League at this point.
Apart from Cyborg’s awful CGI the heroes themselves are awesome and a sign of great things to come, Aquaman (Being a badass) and Flash (Being great comedy relief) are a highlight – The camaraderie between them all works really well and each actor/actress brings their hero to the screen really well; I think that the way the team work together was a highlight too, and it was good to see they got something right honestly after what some may call a shaky few years. I do feel like a step back had been taken with Wonder Woman however; she’s gone from powerful woman to gooey eyed mother figure and I actually found her more annoying instead of awesome (Which she was in her own movie).
After this point Bruce convinces the rest of the League to bring Superman back to life – Somehow he knows the Kryptonian ship can bring dead cells back to life, but they need to use the Mother Box (Which Cyborg has) to create the life force, so we visit Superman’s ship for the 3rd time in 5 films… This obviously works (Because plot) and Superman is back! Again some very bad CGI is used to animate Clarke (Why not just use Cavill’s real body?) as he comes back to life forgetting who he is. The League ends up having an awesome fight with him (This scene is probably the best of the entire film) and cannot take him; luckily, however, Bruce has Lois turn up to make Clarke remember who he is. It’s worth mentioning that the CGI’d out moustache is extremely noticeable.
From here Superman goes off with Lois to see his mum and figure his head out, whereas the rest of the League prepare for the final battle with Steppenwolf, and defeat him. The final battle is great apart from the god awful CGI, the pointless story line with the Russian family and Batman’s super lame smirk when Superman shows up to save the day (Steppenwolf is shit and easily overpowered by Superman).
Once Superman figures out his head and is ‘good’ again he returns to being the best Superman we’ve had in years; slightly humorous and fun, but a badass with his powers. The after-credits scene has Lex Luthor and Deathstroke teasing an ‘Injustice League’ (or League of Evil?) and is super super awesome, which has me not only interested, but also invested in the future of DC’s cinematic universe.
Overall, all of the action is awesome – The League themselves, and the interaction between them is really good, and the final scene gives me so much faith for the second film. There’s just something about the film itself that doesn’t quite work, and I can’t completely put my finger on it, unfortunately. The very basic story and CGI are huge down points for the film but the League themselves make it good, making me feel rather conflicted. I think I would have been disappointed if this was an Avengers film but the DC films have almost made us expect a mixed bag every time. I think there’s a high possibility this won’t make enough money and this will be the end of the universe, but that would be a shame as this film is a step in the right direction.
I still don’t really know how I feel about this film as I did enjoy it and it’s a sign of good things to come, but there are some truly awful things about this movie that cannot be ignored.
7.5/10 …For now.