Justice League (2017) – A Review


A review of the 2017 DC big-budget superhero film Justice League, starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Raymond Fisher and Henry Cavill, directed by Zack Snyder

Justice League 2017 Wonder Woman Batman Flash Gadot Affleck Miller

The world is threatened by an other-worldly invasion led by an evil super being who is attempting to possess powerful magical boxes to take over the Earth. Our only hope is a group of DC heroes to unite and work together to stop this deadly threat. They even have to bring Superman back from the dead, who has been lying in a coffin since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, to help.

Yes, kids – it’s the Justice League!

Before I jump into this let me state now something I’ve been championing since all this started – the behind-the-scenes story of what went down with Justice League, a movie that was meant to be the culmination of the DC Extended Universe or whatever they’re calling it, would make a much more compelling story than the actual movie that resulted from all that chaos. Forget about trying to do an extended cinematic universe, I want to hear that story!

Justice League sounds like it can fit snugly in with the same circle of all those fascinating, notorious productions of out-of-control films. Seriously, someone has to start work on a documentary about this flick. All the issues that rained down on this movie and what a tumultuous train it became, I’d so love to see that!

It probably won’t be for a long time before anyone involved will give an honest assessment of their experiences, detail what they witnessed and would be willing to share their honest stories and opinions about what happened, but I’m sure it would be more than worth the wait to see all that than watching the actual Justice League movie.

Justice League 2017 filming castAnyway, leaving the behind-the-scenes drama aside, and just looking at the final product that made it to movie screens, the movie is still a tedious, convoluted, ugly, rushed mess.

Whether this part was director Zack Snyder’s or that bit was reshot by Joss Whedon, it really doesn’t matter. Nothing in it stands out. Any potential that might have once been for this big DC superhero team-up in the beginning got so lost and wrapped in band-aids that it’s hard to figure out why they bothered making this movie. Or maybe the passion and enthusiasm was never there to start with.

It looks to me the ultimate goal with this flick was simply to get these characters onscreen, make the scheduled release date and hope to try to make as much money as they could from it. Justice League deserved to be ignored.

There is a lot wrong and so much one could criticize and complain about with this (which many have, and will continue to for years to come I’m betting). The breakdown of the movie and its issues could turn into a bible. It’s not really worth getting too worked up about it though. My expectations for this were so low after seeing previous entries in this universe and what Snyder had done with his previous two films and these characters, I would have been shocked had this been anything close to being even average.

It doesn’t make it to being average.

Ok, so the basic lowdown is that Superman is dead and the world is hurting without him. This makes an ideal opportunity for Steppenwolf and his Parademons to goto Earth and try to get three ‘Mother Boxes’ that have been hidden and separated all over the place. Once in his hands he can use their combined strength to terraform the Earth into his own evil kingdom – or something along those lines.

Justice League 2017 battle sceneWe get a bit of a history lesson learning that Steppenwolf was defeated by heroes once before eons ago. We see big busy battle scenes of him fighting the Amazons, Atlanteans, some Green Lanterns make a cameo. It’s unexciting, lousy looking and it shows you the kind of special effects that lie in store.

There’s not a bit of special effects or action in this that will impress any fan.

Steppenwolf is also one of the most bland, forgettable, ugliest looking CGI villains ever! They don’t even try to make him interesting in anyway. I literally forgot about the guy when he wasn’t onscreen. No presence made, no threat. I guess they figured as long as he had horns, talked in a deep voice and was tall that would be enough to make him a worthwhile adversary where the League is needed.

They don’t even try to convey that vital stakes are hanging in the balance here. For a flick about the destruction of earth we barely see any earthlings in peril. They do manage to crowbar the famed ‘random Russian family’ being in danger towards the end, but that’s about it. That’s quite an awkward bit too by the way.

Justice League DC WB superhero movieBut ok, forget the story. Let’s just go with a rather routine plan by a generic baddie with his army of demons attacking the earth. The real fun is going to be watching this diverse team have personality clashes, overcome differences, gain mutual respect for one another, work together, get into nifty action scenes and save the world.

Well, that’s what’s supposed to happen, but it’s all so incredibly uninspired it feels like you’re watching something of a blueprint of a movie. It’s like they skipped over adding the compelling scenes and dialogue between these folks to make you get invested and like this group. None of them are interesting to watch, both alone or together.

Ben Affleck as Batman gets wind of this upcoming Steppenwolf invasion and he and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman set out to recruit their team to fight it.

The Team

It’s strange, I never really heard of a general consensus of any one particular standout character in this. You know, the one character that everyone agrees, “Oh they stole this movie! They were the best part in it!” It’s more like a grab bag of personal opinions where folks either hated, liked or didn’t mind this lineup of heroes.

For me, if forced I’d say Gadot is the sole standout.

Since Wonder Woman, Gadot has become a star. The majority of folks loved Wonder Woman. I didn’t think it was all that, but I liked Gadot. Here, she’s fine. She actually has the best scene in the movie foiling some bad guys with a bomb – which ironically has no connection to anything else in the movie. Throughout the rest of the movie she stands her ground and fulfills her contractual obligation to appear in this.

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman butt shots Justice League
Gadot’s derriere getting some screen time

She stands there, does some posing, tries to explain the stakes, participates in some insipid action scenes and allows whoever was working the camera that day to linger on her assets.

Yeah, those leering shots. I had heard about them and indeed they are present. Along with all the silly remarks about how good looking she is from her male teammates. Alfred suggests Bruce Wayne isn’t just interested in her fighting abilities, Flash clumsily falls on her boobs, Aquaman confesses that he thinks she’s hot as he mistakenly touches her magic lasso.

I mean, Gadot is quite an attractive lady and yeah, she wears a sexy costume, but I can see how Wonder Woman being gawked at and sexualized throughout this so much would upset fans. I don’t recall that happening in her own movie. Whoever’s directing this was clearly more concerned of shooting her in a less heroic manner than Patty Jenkins had done.

They seemed to have spent more time filming Gadot’s butt than making a halfway decent villain.

Still, she comes off the best out of this. This should make Wonder fans more anxious to see her in her solo sequel, for her to get away from these guys and get out of this muck. She has better things to do.

Gal Gadot Ben Affleck Wonder Woman Batman Justice League 2017
Some fans have really been behind Affleck’s casting as Batman from the start, and honestly I never got it. I don’t think he did anything special with the part in Batman v Superman, and here he does even less. Whereas in the last flick he was this brooding, angry Dark Knight, here he’s all at the ready for cutesy one-liners, anxious to be not so secret with his secret identity and his participation in the action is just driving around outlandish vehicles.

The whole idea of this ‘DC series of films’ was I thought to have some continuity between them. Yet, this feels like a completely different Batman from the last time and I don’t get the impression that he’s grown into this guy since the end of BvS. No, I don’t accept that he feels all this guilt over the death of Superman and it has haunted him so much. But we’re just expected to buy that because they say so.

I wouldn’t say it’s a problem with Affleck in the role, but the way this Batman is written – I just don’t know who he’s supposed to be. Affleck has found himself in the unenviable spot of finally getting cast as Bats in one of the most poorly written, confusing movie versions of the character ever.

Henry Cavill Superman Justice League 2017If the rumors are true, Affleck is lucky he’ll be able to get out of this role and go back to focusing on doing better, more personal projects he’s more passionate about. He’s also wasting his time with this stuff.

No surprise that Cavill returns as the back from the dead Superman. Fans were happy we finally saw a sunnier, more familiar looking Superman this time around, compared to the moody, wet mop Supes in the previous flicks. This personality turnaround has no explanation and it does little to redeem him.

I always wonder whether Cavill is really satisfied with what he’s been given to do in these movies. This couldn’t possibly be what he envisioned the character and the movies they would end up putting him in would become when he first signed to play Supes.

They continue with this Superman/Lois Lane relationship despite Cavill and Amy Adams having zero chemistry and being saddled with awful dialogue. It’s very hollow and once again we’re supposed to just accept it because that’s the way this is supposed to work.The film does very little getting us to believe or get invested in anything, we just have to do a lot of swallowing and accept that important stuff is happening.

Cavill also has better things to do and has just been wasted in these movies. He surely has a better role and more to do in that upcoming Mission Impossible 6 (he just has to!), so I don’t blame him for not shaving his mustache off for this. Yeah, that CGI cleanup on his face is noticeable. With any luck he’ll fulfill his contractual obligations by doing one more round as this thankless Superman and move onto better things.

As for the rest (like they used to say on the earliest Gilligan’s Island version of the theme song), there’s very little worth talking about. No, I did not like any of them. Certainly not enough to want to see any solo movies from any of them. It was grueling enough to see them in this.

Ezra Miller as the Flash is quite annoying. He’s meant to be funny, he never is. He does that rambling, nervous kind of jokey thing through the entire movie. It’s never endearing or amusing.

Ray Fisher as Cyborg, is quite dull. They try to give him a backstory with his father and the emotional toll of being half robot takes on him, but there’s just not enough time spent on it to care.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman Justice League 2017It’s just cursory cliff notes of who these characters are. I guess there was once upon a time more focus spent on them, but it all got lost.

The funniest to me is Jason Momoa who plays….I think mainly himself. I know this guy has a big following from Game of Thrones, but I only know him from that crappy Conan the Barbarian movie. I guess they really wanted to try hard to make Aquaman a badass and that’s pretty much all there is to this guy. He grunts and scowls and I found him to be such an unlikable character that any even mild interest in seeing him in an upcoming solo movie is now nonexistent.

He is the last character out of this I would want to see more of. And guess what, his solo movie is coming up next! The underwater bits with him and Amber Heard are meant tantalize us to want to learn more about this King of Atlantis. Yeah. Good luck with that movie guys!

The story is the predictable exercise dotted with uninvolving and muddy action sequences that had me not caring at all as things went along. No logic is established and the escalation of stakes is nonexistent. We get that classic customary gloomy Sndyer visual aesthetic throughout, which I guess they tried to lighten up a bit. It still looks very unappealing to my eyes.

JK Simmons, Diana Lane, Jeremy Irons, they get these acting heavyweights who aren’t asked to do much. They just mainly pop in and I guess give the illusion that there’s a great cast here and that will result in some great stuff. They don’t deliver on that promise.

Justice League action scene Wonder Woman Aquaman CyborgThere’s no one great ‘superhero’ scene in the entire thing either. It’s quite shocking! Remember how fans clung onto that one fight scene of Batman’s in BvS, like it almost redeemed the movie? Well, you’re not going to find anything like that in this one.

You might have heard some unwavering fans excitedly recount – ‘But when they fight Superman it’s awesome! That part when Flash looks at him and realizes that Superman is just as fast as him! That was great!’

Uh, yeah. That’s like one moment in a two-hour movie. And that Superman fight lasts about four minutes, takes place on a weird looking green-screen city square and nothing particularly suspenseful or exhilarating takes place during it. But I suppose fans have to grasp onto whatever they can to find some kind of worthiness in this muddled mayhem.

With the praise that some are pouring onto that scene, the movie should have just had used that as the climax. Have Steppenwolf been the one to resurrect Supes, control him to destroy the League and they could have spent twenty minutes fighting him. Instead, the ending is that standard superhero ending of them fighting a big CGI bad guy with a lot of dizzying shots set in a video-game backdrop. That seems to have become the norm for how these DC movies end and somehow it never looks good or is satisfying.

Justice League Flash Cyborg digging Superman grave
Flash and Cyborg digging up Superman’s corpse

By the way, that’s one thing I never thought I would see in a Justice League movie – Flash and Cyborg digging up Superman’s grave. It looked liked something straight out of an old Universal horror movie! So, I will say that part did surprise me. It was kind of surreal to see. I think that might have been the funniest scene in the movie! Too bad they didn’t try doing some kind of brain transplant on Supes after they dug him up.

What makes that scene even more confused is how Flash explains he could do the digging real fast, but he feels that would be disrespectful. I’m sorry, I thought the world was being attacked. You know, it’s about to be destroyed and they desperately need Superman back to save it. I guess there’s no rush with this digging. It’s the perfect time for Flash to put the brakes on and take his time.

Justice League doesn’t warrant getting too angry over it. I was expecting it to be lousy long ago when they announced it. After seeing what Snyder had done in his previous entries I never imagined this series would hit its stride with this flick with him being involved again. THEN when all the rumors about the production problems started seeping out, well the odds of this being even mildly entertaining was slim.

It is quite shocking that they spent $300 million bucks on such a sterile, uneventful film.

For fans who enjoyed this or have given it a pass, my hats off to you. To the movies credit they did try to fix some of the issues that previous DC films had. They didn’t do it with any kind of panache, but they did try. I mean, putting more jokes in it to try to make the movie more fun is somewhat pointless to me if none of the jokes are the least bit funny. Batman and Robin had one-liners and gags galore and that didn’t make that flick a party to sit through.

I didn’t find anything worthwhile in Justice League. And no, I don’t think any sort of extended cut of Snyder’s or Whedon’s is some kind of magical version that we’ve been robbed of experiencing and would reprieve this. As I said before – I think Justice League was broken long before they even filmed it. The only thing it did successfully accomplish was making its November 2017 release date. Congrats everyone!

Justice League 2017 CastWhether they decide to continue to plow ahead with this series and do ‘Justice League 2’ or jettison the whole thing, I really don’t care. This whole DCEU feels so incredibly shattered at this point I don’t know what the right move for DC/WB would be. Maybe they should just focus on making Wonder Woman movies and in ten years time start trying to resuscitate these characters.

One last positive thing I can say that Justice League has left us with, along with the fun juicy production problems to read about, is how it has become a monumental film for fans to discuss endlessly. Thanks to it being such a popular property, the fact it was such a heavily promoted film, that it was meant to be this big deal and the apex of this DCEU, there will never be a shortage of opinions or eagerness to dish on it.

Fans would be talking about this movie for years anyway, but the way it stands now it left us with plenty to pick over, shake our heads at and wonder about the decisions that were made. So, it has secured a sort of lasting legacy in a way.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *