Miscarriage Of Justice?
♦ Tripwire’s editor-in-chief JOEL MEADOWS takes a look at Warner Bros. Justice League, out from today and directed by Zack Snyder. Warning: spoilers ahead…
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons
Justice League is the fifth film in DC’s Extended Universe series of movies. Starting with Man of Steel back in 2013, that was followed by Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016), then Suicide Squad in 2016 and this year’s Wonder Woman. It did have a rather checkered production history with director Zack Snyder bowing out before completion owing to a personal tragedy and Joss Whedon coming in to finish it.
Whedon did have a bit of a thankless task as he had to come in at the last minute to try and fix this after much had been shot. There were stories of $25m worth of reshoots, which is a significant amount.
DC films have suffered from a severe lack of inconsistency and an overly dark tone, an unnecessary nod to the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Of this film’s four predecessors, only Wonder Woman comes anywhere close to actually striking the correct balance. So can Justice League build on Wonder Woman, steered by director Patty Jenkins and its star Gal Gadot?
It opens decently enough with us witnessing Wonder Woman stopping a group of terrorists from attacking London, allowing the film to include the obligatory Tower Bridge shot for the Americans. Superman (Henry Cavill) is still dead but Batman/ Bruce Wayne feels that the Justice League lacks power and heart without the presence of the Man of Steel. So he decides to try and resurrect him.
The main villain of Justice League is Steppenwolf, played by Ciaran Hinds, an alien invader bent on uniting the three mother boxes that are located on Earth, which will wipe out all of human life. Steppenwolf was a Jack Kirby creation, an acolyte of Darkseid, but using him on his own doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Justice League suffers from a tonal shift thanks to the presence of Joss Whedon, who took over from Snyder when he made the decision to leave. The film does contain a few Whedon zingers including one scene where we are introduced to Aquaman but that is contradicted by Snyder’s sturm and drang, which sits uncomfortably with Whedon’s wisecracking. So it feels very much like two films which were stitched together.
The actors and the performances don’t help matters either. Affleck is competent but rather one-note as the grim Dark Knight, Cavill shows that he doesn’t really possess very much range at all as Superman/ Clark Kent and his resurrection is handled in as clumsy and cack-handed a manner you’d expect. Momoa as Aquaman looks cool but there is no real character to speak of here. Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher, also suffers from the same problem. He mainly stands around in a hoodie, looking menacing. The worst character here is The Flash, played by Ezra Miller, a creation so annoying that you have to stop yourself from punching the seat in front of you every time he appears on the screen. Gal Gadot is the best thing about Justice League, reprising her role as Wonder Woman.
DC and Warner Bros. haven’t really learnt from the mistakes of Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad. Justice League is a little better than both but not by very much. The villain is poorly delineated, some of the CGI is awful and most of the script is pretty weak. Ironically, Joss Whedon was the man who managed to make Avengers (Assemble in the UK) at least very entertaining. His presence here was obviously too little, too late and so Justice League is a horrible melange of sub-standard superheroics, wooden performances and a fairly dull story. There is little chemistry between the characters, which doesn’t help. We have two post-credits sequences: one is a nod to something that used to be a regular fixture in the comics and the other brings back a major DC villain while introducing a new adversary to the big screen. It isn’t as bad as Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad but it doesn’t flow as well as Wonder Woman did
It will have a very strong opening weekend but it doesn’t seem likely that it will sustain a big box office like Wonder Woman. I used to read Justice League of America when I was a kid and so I really wanted this to be an enjoyable experience. It is hard to make a superhero team film really gel and sadly this doesn’t quite work.