After Wonder Woman dragged up the quality level of the DCEU, it’s unfortunately back to business as usual in terms of proving the adage that DC has the best characters, but Marvel has the best movies.
The film opens with the world mourning the man of steel after the events of Batman Vs. Superman. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck, a weathered and weary Dark Knight) and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) suspect an alien race is about to take advantage of Kal-el’s departure to invade and conquer Earth. They assemble The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to try and fend off the army of Steppenwolf (a lazily rendered CGI creation, mocapped and voiced by Ciaran Hinds).
I can’t even be bothered writing a review of whatever the hell this is. This thing – ostensibly a film, in terms of the fact that one frame follows another, but certainly not in a way that they eventually form or even involve a coherent narrative – stinks of focus-group mandated editing, reshoots, and of utter, desperate compromise. Some of this is of course understandable – director Zack Snyder left the project under tragic circumstances, Joss Whedon tagging in to finish the final twenty per cent of the film plus reshoots – but the fact is that these characters are iconic, and for a major studio with a $300 million budget to waste some of the crown jewels of popular culture is frankly ridiculous. At least Batman Vs. Superman had some sort of vision.
Admittedly, it’s bizarre fun to watch these perfectly cast actors within such a generic dirge. Momoa and (especially) Miller add some charm and flair to an ensemble already boasting Gadot’s always welcome Wonder Woman – here boasting a slightly maternalistic side as reluctant co-leader of the League – and Affleck’s Caped Crusader (in over fifty years of the character being onscreen, it’s one of the only saving graces of the DCEU so far that Affleck’s mature Batman stands as probably the best incarnation). Fisher does good work, yet his is sadly a very underwritten role, despite it being essential to the story.
What the cast has to work with – even with shiny quips to be filed under “trademark Whedon” – barely makes use of their natural chemistry, however, and the film slams quickly into a third act that is so by-the-numbers that it was probably written on a calculator. Once again in a DC film, a disposable baddie does something involving crap CGI stuff that threatens the world and only our heroes can blah blah blah the end.
Any interest you have by the end revolves around learning how awful the computer graphics can be on a production that cost the GDP of a small country, and musing on the larger question of how long Hollywood can go on continually squandering audience interest (and money) on mediocre, lazy schlock like this.
Justice League came out on general release on 15th November 2017.