At The Movies: Justice League

DC Comics’ long-awaited attempt at putting together an all-star super-team movie has arrived. While on paper, the Justice League boasts a more powerful lineup than the Avengers, on film the A-team has nothing to worry about.

“Justice League” is a mixed bag. While I enjoyed it overall, it suffers from the usual weaknesses that plague comic book movies.

THE GOOD: The cast is the film’s biggest strength, which is key since that’s the main reason anyone is going to this movie — to see DC’s big guns interact. And it is fun seeing these iconic characters hook up for the first time.

Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman continues to be the franchise’s strongest link. She’s always captivating on screen. Ben Affleck is just as good a Batman/Bruce Wayne as anyone else to don the cape and cowl and better than some. Henry Cavill finally brings some charm and light to the previously dour Superman. I guess being reborn improves one’s attitude.

As far as the newbies, Jason Momoa — while bearing no resemblance in look or personality to his comic book counterpart — does a good job with the role of smartass/badass that is, of all people, Aquaman. Ezra Miller is fine in the comic relief role of the Flash — again playing a part that really doesn’t mesh with the comic book persona.  Last, and by all means least, we have Ray Fisher as Cyborg. It’s not that he does a bad job with the character, it’s just that the character isn’t fleshed out (irony not intended).

The special effects and action sequences are decent, especially if you love the way director Zack Snyder directs action sequences. Because this is exactly like every other movie he’s directed. Highly stylized with lots of slow-motion, sudden stops and starts, and the action usually takes place at night or in darkened places.

To his credit, Snyder does the best Batman visuals put to film. He gets that Batman should be able to move, and move quickly. He also does great with the posing.

The movie boasts a lighter tone than its predecessors “Man of Steel” and “Superman V. Batman,” which is a good thing. Joss Whedon was brought in to help Snyder finish the film and his trademark sense of humor keeps the film from being too solemn.

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THE BAD:  “Justice League” certainly isn’t the first comic book movie to feature a weak, choppy plot and a boring, colorless villain. It’s another alien invasion story, this one led by the uninspired, uber-powerful baddie Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds — not the band).

Steppenwolf has come to Earth to bring together three Mother Boxes that will transform our planet into a hellhole, the better for it to be taken over by Steppy’s boss Darkseid.

I think. The movie doesn’t do a very good job of explaining the plot at all. Nor does it adequately give us background on the new characters. I would’ve liked to have seen more of Aquaman in his element, or Cyborg before his accident.

THE UGLY: Outside of the big three, the costume designs are hideous. Aquaman looks better in tattoos and swim trunks than the thing he wears to fight evil. Cyborg is a human head on a robot body, and it’s not a good look. But the worst fashion disaster is the Flash. A guy who’s talent is running should not be wearing such an oddly jagged, busy costume. There’s something seriously wrong when your TV version looks so much better than you do.

THE SUMMARY: I think DC would’ve been wise to follow Marvel’s playbook and introduce the characters individually before bringing them together. There’s just too much going on shoved into a 2-hour time frame. Still, it’s not as dark and bleak as Snyder’s previous DC movies and the cast is strong and it’s entertaining seeing them all together.

As Superman’s chest emblem would say — there’s hope.

 

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