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Film Review: Justice League

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After a shaky start to DC’s superhero franchise, due to a string of poor films bar Wonder Woman, it’s no surprise that expectations for the long-awaited Justice league have been quite low.

Credit: rogerebert.com

Unfortunately, the film does its best to disappoint in what is a yet another messy entry into the DC expanded universe. 

Following on from the events of Batman v Superman, the film begins with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) seeking out meta-humans who they believe can help them defend against an impending attack against Earth. Shortly after the pair make contact with those known as The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Mamao) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the world conqueror Steppenwolf (Ciara Hinds) begins his assault by searching for the ancient power of three ‘Mother Boxes’. As Steppenwolf and his forces grow in strength, it becomes more apparent that the small band of heroes must unite and work together in order to stop a world-ending invasion.

You’d be forgiven for walking out of Justice League and feeling as if this was an entirely new series of films by DC. This is because, aside from the actors and the continuation of previous storylines, the film is completely different to its predecessors in everything from tone and look to dialogue and character personalities.

It’s hard to ignore how Joss Whedon’s extensive re-shoots have heavily impacted the final film, and whilst some of the director’s changes work for the better, the majority of them cripple what is an already flawed film.

Justice League feels much more light-hearted than any of the franchise's previous films with a lot of jokes and quips placed throughout. Ezra Miller’s Flash acts as the source for many of these jokes for much of the film and whilst the actor puts in an energetic performance, a lot of these moments feel forced and fall flat. 

The plot itself feels like a complete throwaway considering this was supposed to be a culmination of DC’s previous movies. Everything that was set up in the previous films seems to have just been painted over very quickly with the film feeling like a rebrand than an actual story.

There are no meaningful stakes or moments of tension as our characters are virtually impenetrable aside from a few moments towards the end. The goal of the film seems only to hit what is essentially a reset button for the franchise rather than to tell an entertaining superhero story.

Steppenwolf is a terribly one-dimensional CGI villain who feels more like a video game boss than a character and looks just as bad. The same visual problems can be applied to the majority of the film which looks more reminiscent of some of DC’s animated films than a Hollywood production. With the budget, including reshoots, being an estimated $300 million, there’s absolutely no excuse for just how bad this film looks at times. 

In terms of performances, Gal Gadot joins Ezra Miller in helping to bring some life into the film whilst Jeremy Irons is once again also enjoyable as Batman's butler Alfred. This is in complete contrast to Ben Affleck however, who seems entirely disinterested for the whole film, giving credence to the fact that he wants out of the franchise. Jason Momoa is bland as Aquaman but does what he can with the terrible dialogue and Cyborg might as well have been entirely CGI himself as Ray Fisher’s wooden portrayal does little to bring the character to life.

Henry Cavill returns as Superman in one form or another but unfortunately, an otherwise fine performance is marred by his upper lip being recreated by CGI as a result of complications during reshoots. This minor detail proves to be incredibly distracting and ruins nearly every scene the actor is in.

There are, however, some bright spots to be found. Wonder Woman’s first action sequence is thoroughly entertaining with the heroine feeling like the only true superhero for much of the film. The Flash also is very likeable and has some great moments which will no doubt raise excitement for his solo film, should DC ever get that far.

Other than that, though, Justice League can only offer up some good moments in what is an otherwise bad movie. The film is a directionless mess that has seen Warner Bros. completely abandon their original vision in an attempt to appeal to everyone that has failed miserably. Unless you’re a huge fan of DC, you’d be better off giving this one a miss.

Justice League is out now, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

 
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