PRE-MOVIE THOUGHTS: Up until very recently, I’d been cautiously optimistic regarding Justice League. I enjoyed Man of Steel, despite some faults, and I thought that Henry Cavill was perfectly suited to the role. I didn’t mind Batman V Superman so much either, despite Jesse Eisenbergs Lex Luthor constantly trying to ruin it. The best thing about Batman V Superman though was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, which is why her standalone origin movie deservedly did so well earlier this year. But the characters of Superman and Batman were beginning to get a bit of a raw deal in my opinion, and that was starting to piss me off. The original Superman movie with Christopher Reeve, along with Christopher Nolans Dark Knight trilogy, are among my favourite films and these latest movies just weren’t doing them ‘justice’. Suicide Squad showed that DC couldn’t do an ensemble movie, which cast a lot of doubt over just how good Justice League was going to be. And when reports came in of re-shoots and a change of director, it wasn’t really looking good. But some of the more recent trailers and teasers actually didn’t look so bad, so maybe there wasn’t too much to be worried about. Until a few days ago that is, when about 90% of the reviews I read didn’t give it higher than two stars! And those that gave it higher were still highlighting some of the weaknesses I’ve already mentioned here. So, I headed into the cinema, expecting to be pissed off again. But seriously, genuinely hoping I wasn’t.
POST-MOVIE REVIEW: Justice League doesn’t start things off too well. The world is still mourning the death of Superman, and a few pointless scenes try to highlight that loss and despair. Batman and Wonder Woman appear in a couple of standalone battles to remind us what they’re capable of, but those scenes also seem rushed and out of place. We have three new team members to be introduced to as well, along with the big bad of the movie. Whereas Marvel’s Avengers took the time to introduce their team over a series of standalone movies, we’ve had no such luxury in the run up to Justice League, aside from some brief glimpses in previous movies. It all just seems like a rush to get things to the point where the team are together and can start having some fun. Everything up until that point just seems cobbled together. Lacking coherence, and just a little bit dull.
Talking of dull, once again the big bad of the movie is a bit of a let down. Steppenwolf appears on Earth in search of three powerful cubes which when combined together will give him the ability to forge the Earth into something more appealing to him, or something like that anyway. He’s accompanied by thousands of flying zombie man-bug type creatures and the whole thing just reeks of supervillain plotlines we’ve seen many times before. Steppenwolf himself is entirely CGI, and at times the CGI just doesn’t look that good.
Onto the league themselves. Well, Wonder Woman is still the most impressive of them all, proving to be a real natural leader. Batman, although greatly improved on his Batman V Superman appearance, just seems like he can’t be bothered. Tired and uninterested at times. This might be partly down to Ben Affleck, who never really seemed suited to the role in my opinion. If the rumours of him being recast in the next standalone Batman movie are true, then it may well be for the best. Even if the thought of yet another actor taking on the role so soon already is extremely frustrating.
The two biggest surprise for me were the two characters I was initially least interested about when heading in to the cinema. Cyborg, from his introduction in BvS and glimpses in the trailers, just seemed pointless. But, despite that we gloss over his back story somewhat, actually proves himself to be a valuable and interesting member of the team. And as for The Flash, he manages to get many of the movies better lines and scenes while he tries to come to terms with what he can actually do with his power (“Up until now I usually just run really fast and push people”).
Slightly disappointing though was Aquaman. Not the character himself, just the fact that we barely get a glimpse of his undersea world, before he finds himself thrust into the league, reduced to just being some extra muscle. His is a role which would have greatly benefited from a standalone origin movie before appearing in this one.
When the team eventually do come together is when the movie really steps up a gear. They work really well together and I really enjoyed the battle scenes. It soon becomes clear though, that they cannot defeat Steppenwolf on their own, and need somebody even more powerful to help them out.
It’s no secret, despite his absence from the trailers, that Superman returns to become part of the league. I felt that this was handled really well and the team helping to overcome his initial disorientation was a really fun scene. When he is fully recovered and battling the bad guys, it’s the kind of Superman we all know and love and everything involving him is just hugely enjoyable.
If it wasn’t for the rushed, incoherent introduction to the movie, I would have rated this a lot higher. For me, the rest of the movie is right up there with this years Wonder Woman, and is a serious step in the right direction for DC. A really pleasant surprise…