Is The 'Justice League' Movie Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Are Saying
Digg Nov 15 2017, 11:10 AM
IT'S, UH, BETTER THAN 'BATMAN V SUPERMAN'?
DC's "Justice League" has a lot riding on it — as the first proper crossover team-up in DC's Extended Universe (no, "Suicide Squad" doesn't count), this is what director Zack Snyder has been building towards for years. Does the movie successfully mix the stoicism of Henry Cavill's Superman, Ben Affleck's grumpy Batman and Gal Gadot's way-more-fun Wonder Woman? Do the newcomers (Ezra Miller's Flash, Jason Momoa's Aquaman and Ray Fisher's Cyborg) have space to breathe? Does the last-minute assist from Joss Whedon stick out? Here's what the reviews say:
It Looks As Busy And Messy As The Other DC Flicks
Snyder and Whedon guide it all with the usual heavy hand and with a visual style that's both gloomy and garish. Many shots are elaborated upon with effects-powered pools of disco-era lighting, zig-zaggy electrical charges and visualized power currents that fill in the compositions in unattractive ways. One only has to recall for a moment the rich images that Christopher Nolan and Wally Pfister consistently created for the Dark Knight trilogy to realize how far these Superman films are from any kind of pictorial distinction.
The film looks terrible, from a visit to Wonder Woman’s native Themyscira that plays like a cheap video-game cut scene, to a dopey big bad who looks, well, like a villain in a playable video-game scene. There’s little inspiring in the way of aesthetics—not even Clark Kent’s lovingly sun-dappled Kansas corn fields, captured with some poeticism in Man of Steel, look good here. The movie jerks around haltingly, shuffling through visual motifs and grating, unexciting set pieces at alarming speed, with no rhythm or build.
The action is largely muddy and unclear, a whirling mess of computer-generated bodies zipping around too quickly to have any sense of their weight or impact.
And The Snyder + Whedon Tone Is Inconsistent
Whedon’s humor is grafted on in too-obvious ways; it sticks out incongruously amid all the stilted mechanics of this alarmingly basic movie. All these Whedonisms have the opposite of the intended effect. They give off a strenuous hum, the desperate sound of a turd polished in vain.
Justice League is weird because Whedon’s influence is sprinkled in – and it’s totally obvious where these Whedon sprinkles are. It would be like having a soup, then sprinkling the soup with basketballs. A scene will go from dreary serious, then all of a sudden switch to, “Hey, how about a joke?”
There are good, cute and funny moments that the editing team should be applauded for, but there aren’t enough to distract from the beautiful, chaotic mess that Justice League ends up being. It’s difficult to try and explain whether Justice League fails or succeeds as a movie because the film feels like it’s still trying to figure out what it wants to be.
But The Moments Of Levity Are A Real Plus
While [Whedon's] scenes can seem roughly interpolated and out-of-place, though, they often offer the film’s most meaningful character moments and flashes of humor and humanity. A quick gag involving Aquaman reveals more about him than the entire rest of the film’s two-hour runtime.
Miller’s awkward and adorable Flash steals every scene with his charismatic performance, whereas Momoa’s brooding machismo plays as an unpredictable bit of charming comedy. Both are welcome additions to a bland universe that benefits from bouts of spicier characters.
It’s golly-gee stuff, but it’s also human and Mr. Miller keeps you hooked, as does Mr. Momoa (“Game of Thrones”), who supplely shifts between gravitas and comedy. When Aquaman chugs a bottle of booze before plunging into an angry sea, the movie hits the comic-book sweet spot between deadly seriousness and self-amused levity.
The Villainy, However, Is A Minus
Of all the bad villains in superhero movies, Steppenwolf is easily the worst in recent memory. He’s just a big CGI cipher for “bad guy.” He shows up, announces he’s evil, then our good guys have to fight him. With this aspect of the movie they didn’t even try, and that’s so disappointing.
Steppenwolf, who threatens to achieve total dominion over everyplace and everyone, has gathered three ancient boxes of pulsating energy known as Mother Boxes, and I will spare you their complicated and meaningful backstory to just say: They are boxes. Bursting with light. And great power. It all plays as more than a bit arbitrary, given that their power, like Steppenwolf’s, is metaphysical, while the climactic battle is rooted in the corporeal — lots of gut punches and swinging broadswords.
Gal Gadot Is Still A Wonder
Gadot manages to escape unscathed. Now in her third round as Wonder Woman, she elevates the movie whenever she’s onscreen, twirling her lasso of truth and staring down each threat as if her symbolism of feminist rage was immune to lackluster product.
Of the main performers, only Gadot pops from the screen at all. For now, her Wonder Woman looks to be the savior of Batman and Superman, though you may end up wondering why she's wasting her time.
Batfleck Seems Like He's Done With The Cape And Cowl
Ben Affleck surely approached this film knowing that a lot of people hated his debut as the Caped Crusader, which placed him in a tough spot. And so — like almost everything else in “Justice League” — he treads a careful middle ground. He plays Bruce/Batman with a restrained version of the Gruff Whisper and goes through the paces of bruiser antihero flippancy in a way that’s just understated enough to get by.
Fatigue, repetition and a laborious approach to exposition are the keynotes of this affair, which is also notable for how Ben Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he'd rather be almost anywhere else but here; his eyes and body language make it clear that he's just not into it.
When Affleck’s Bruce Wayne heads off to convince Jason Momoa’s Aquaman to enlist, he wisecracks, “I hear you talk to fish…” with a cocky, condescending grin on his mug. At that moment, Affleck looks like the highest-paid captive in a hostage video. Fortunately, there are other actors who look like they actually want to be there.
Justice League is better than its joylessly somber dress rehearsal, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now the “but”…you knew there was a “but” coming, right? But it also marks a pretty steep comedown from the giddy highs of Wonder Woman.
There are some laughs and excitement, but this is another film that looks like Axe body spray smells.
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