Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa
Runtime: 110 min
After Superman's death, people of Earth are overwhelmed with fear and a newly awakened enemy is about to strike the planet. Inspired by his rebuilt faith in humanity, Bruce Wayne works on gathering a team with the help of his new ally, Diana Price.
Therefore, Batman and Wonder Woman join with the other metahumans (Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman) to create a league of superheroes in order to defeat Steppenwolf, a member of Darkseid's Elite, and save the world.
DCEU's Justice League is one of the most anticipated comic-book movies since the beginning of its universe. Even though the expectations decreased with time due to the first couple of disappointments (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad), Wonder Woman offered hope with one of the best films of this year.
So, does this new DC Comics' installment win a place among the best comic-book movies ever? No, not even close. However, it does reach the expectations I had and it even surpasses them in some aspects. It is a good film but it is not great. I am sure that it is going to receive a lot of mixed reviews from critics and some fans might get disappointed since the typical flaws remain and the clichés don't seem to disappear.
Then, what does work? Undoubtedly, the cast is the standout of the whole show. The league's chemistry is palpable and genuinely entertaining, which definitely elevates every single character. I love that all of them are lighthearted and humorous, instead of being overdramatic, dark and depressing.
Ben Affleck continues to be a true badass as Batman / Bruce Wayne. I was always a fan of his work, but when the news of him being cast as one of the most popular superheroes of all-time were released, I was part of the people that doubted that choice. However, I was the first to admit that I was wrong when BvS came out and he was one of the few positives of the entire movie. Once again, he delivers a fantastic performance and Batman has some awesome scenes, as always.
Gal Gadot as Diana Price / Wonder Woman might be my favorite casting choice of these last few years. It is mind-blowing how one actress can dignify a single character so damn much. Her dedicated and heartfelt display completely astounds me and she is able to turn Wonder Woman into one of my favorite superheroes of today. Even if her lines are sometimes cheesy and shallow, Gadot deals with it in a flawless fashion.
Ezra Miller is probably going to be the audience's preference due to his witty moments as Barry Allen / The Flash. He definitely captures the character's spirit, The Flash has the funniest lines and his sequences are really well shot. Jason Momoa is freaking awesome as Arthur Curry / Aquaman and his action scenes are even more badass. Finally, Ray Fisher is great as Victor Stone / Cyborg, the most intriguing character of the film, even though he is 95% CGI.
Yet, this is where problems start to rise. I didn't write much about these last three characters because there are quite few development scenes. The set-ups for each of these superheroes are so swift and insignificant that I can't really care for any of them. What is supposed to be an origin movie for each one, that is simplified in one or two lines, especially with The Flash.
I don't consider myself neither a Marvel or a DC fanboy, I am just a fan of both universes and of all the heroes. I am super happy and honored to live in such era, even if we are getting a bit over-saturated with superhero films. I write this because I am about to compare each company's method to implement their universes ...
There is a reason why The Avengers is, still to this day, one of the best comic-book movies ever created. Marvel spent 5 years setting up and developing each of their main heroes, so when the time arrived to unite them, every fan knew who each superhero was and most importantly, everyone was already connected with them. Still, even with all of this preparation, the runtime for this huge blockbuster is 142 minutes.
Justice League is only 110 minutes long and it needs to set up 3 new characters, a villain and a whole story where they all need to come together as a team. Obviously, something is going to go wrong and that is almost everything plot-related. The pacing and tone are out of control, some of the editing feels uncommonly choppy and the script for each character sometimes falls in the "silly" territory.
In case you don't know about this, Snyder had to step down from the production due to family-related issues, so Joss Whedon replaced him for a while. It still feels very much like a Snyder film, but with all of the re-shoots, some scenes feel like a different film or they don't seem to have a connection to the prior moments (Whedon unquestionably removed and added some stuff).
With the unbalanced pacing and some messy plot points (isolated scenes), the movie's overall flow breaks and it is brought down. These are some of the reasons behind the choppy editing, so I look forward to an extended edition because I truly think they can improve both the story (more time for character development) and the technical details (natural flow between scenes).
Similarly to pretty much almost every superhero film, my main issue with the movie is, as you presumably guessed by now, the villain. Steppenwolf is just a giant CGI beast that wants to conquer the world because "darkness, yeah". He is as dull and fake as it could be. There is absolutely no attempt at developing him, he is simply a plot device to cause our heroes to assemble and fight him together. Awful. Just horrible.
Despite all of these flaws, Justice League also has a lot of positives and there is no denying it. It is a much more entertaining and cheerful film than its predecessors, so there are more than reasons for everyone to spend a good time at the theater. The action set pieces are phenomenal, the third act might be heavy on CGI, but it is extremely well managed and it doesn't feel video game-ish as in WW.
The score is pretty neat and it conducts the action excellently. The ending is near perfect, in my opinion. For the first time, I can finally say that Superman is awesome! They finally got the character right, he is the untarnished standout of the third act with some epic moments spread by astonishing fighting scenes. And yes, Henri Cavill is exceptional, even though his digitally-removed mustache doesn't escape anyone's eyes.
To summarise, Justice League is clearly a step in the right direction. It has a lot of technical issues with its pacing, tone and screenplay that mess up the movie's overall flow and editing, but the big problem is undoubtedly the lack of depth in the new characters, villain included. Nevertheless, the cast's chemistry is as entertaining and funny as the characters they portray, being Gadot, Affleck and Miller the standouts, while Superman steals the show in the end. Some fantastic action sequences, a cool soundtrack and an incredibly satisfying ending (plus two awesome post-credits scenes) prove that DCEU just started to roll up its sleeves!