Movie Review – Justice League (2017)
|This is make or break for DC Studios.
A tepid response to Man of Steel, followed by the headscratcher that was Batman vs Superman was brought to an abrupt halt by the staggering trainwreck that was Suicide Squad (currently my #2 worst movie of all time).
Thankfully, Justice League is a good movie… up to a point, and the point is this; it’s DC’s version of the first Avengers flick. I genuinely enjoyed the film, but there are almost straight lifts from Marvel into this universe that did make me wonder if DC were just cosplaying.
The plot is that three long lost Mother Boxes (cubes of energy that reminded me of the old Transformer’s cartoon Energon-cubes) have sensed the demise of Superman, and have awoken to summon the arch villain Steppenwolf and his hoard of Parademons to conquer Earth, having been previously defeated and exiled by an alliance of The Amazonians, Atlanteans, and Mankind, in battle scenes that would make Peter Jackson blush.
Batman is the first to realise that something is up, and after recruiting Wonder Woman, The Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg… they then attempt to resurrect Superman, all before a final showdown filled with the CGI madness fans have come to expect.
Running at exactly two hours, the plot does pack a lot in, and if I am honest I would have been happier to have seen another thirty minutes added for the purposes of exposition, as there were some great touches of lore; from the war between the Amazonians and Atlanteans, the return of Darkseid, and Cyborg’s accelerated understanding of Kryptonian technology.
There is no denying that Batman’s character is almost a straight lift of Iron Man, but this was mitigated by a series of shots of The World’s Greatest Detective taking serious injuries, and even postulating that he can’t do this forever. Aquaman being the equivalent of the Hulk is a bit of reach, but just about acceptable. That said it would be unfair to compare Hawkeye with The Flash, as DC really does break new ground – in a positive sense – with a character who has some form of Aspergers.
Perhaps the most underutilised character is Cyborg whose inventor father has fused Kryptonian technology in the hope of bringing back his dead son, and I felt that the character who does not know who or what he is, let alone what he is becoming was deserving of more exploration.
For all of this, the show is stolen by the amazing Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Oozing grace, confidence and conviction, the character is given an elevated platform to almost that of a leader and to the scriptwriter’s credit this worked well, much more so than the Wonder Woman origin story which I felt was hampered by the unnecessary love sub-plot.
Similarly, some of the CGI clunkiness which marred Wonder Woman has been ironed out, and the casting of the central villain was much better.
For all of that, the character of Steppenwolf and some massive plot holes do mar the experience. Firstly, Steppenwolf’s desire to conquer is never really explained. He is intelligent, articulate, but his desire to destroy everything is never given any depth. Other than a single reference to summon Darkseid, the character is bad simply for the sake of being bad.
Similarly, it is stated that Steppenwolf has been exiled from Earth for some 5,000yrs, and the activation of the mother boxes that summon him was only brought about when they sensed the death of Superman… so why did they not activate before Superman arrived on Earth?
Contrivances aside, what marks this movie out from other DC offerings is that there is not the same grim tone of gritty grittiness which some found so wearing, particularly in Batman vs Superman. Whilst there are moments and are both sombre and stoic, there is a smattering of light-hearted quips, and the scene where Wonder Woman uses the Lasso of Truth on Aquaman genuinely brought a smile to my face.
This is not a perfect film. It is cluttered, occasionally disjointed, and tries to do too much in too little time.
But for all of that, it is fun. It is fun in the way Temple of Doom or Starship Troopers is fun. It is action packed, and if you enjoy these graphic novel movies then just hold on for the ride because this is probably the turning point where we will see DC start to get it consistently right.
Final verdict: 4/6