‘Justice League’ unites memorable heroes to fight mundane threat

| November 17, 2017

It felt like it took four movies in, but with “Wonder Woman”, DC finally struck close with a tone that felt right for their shared universe. justice league

Zack Snyder (and Joss Whedon, who directed up to a fifth of the final film) stick with that blueprint and eschew much of the gritty darkness felt with “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Humor is welcomed, with Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), being a doe eyed Flash in his first major superhero gig. Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman and works as the heart of the team, balancing the calculating nature of Batman (Ben Affleck).

Other newcomers include Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Each character brings something to the table. Cyborg, whose body was mostly destroyed in an accident, is dealing with a mechanical body that keeps evolving daily in unpredictable ways. His mecha biology’s alien origins leaves him afraid of what he is becoming. Aquaman is the loner who prefers to deal with his own issues his own way until the main threat strikes his home.

The sense of camaraderie is there and it is a joy to see the characters play off each other, both in fights and during quieter moments. This is a group that makes you believe it can get stuff done.

On the other hand, the biggest threat of the film isn’t necessarily the villain, but rather how mundane he is. Steppenwolf (played through motion capture by Ciarán Hinds) is a misfire of a villain who seems like he’s merely cut from a template. He towers over all of the heroes and proves to be super strong, yet his presence never feels intimidating. He gets a nice flashback showing many of the world’s and universe’s heroes teaming up to defeat him (making for some very interesting cameos that will have the Internet excited). But there is no fear or lasting sense of danger. His plan for taking over the world is also in line with what we’ve already seen in these movies, which leaves us wondering how many ancient machines capable of destroying the planet are being hidden on Earth?

Steppenwolf’s entire scheme makes for a clunky plot that contorts itself into establishing certain drama. One particular hero is sidelined for a duration of one fight for what can be called “personal reasons”. Once they decide they’re ready to fight again, without any prompting from anything else, they join in and are easily the solution to the rest of the League’s current dilemma. The film also keeps cutting to a particular family impacted by Steppenwolf’s plan. It’s understandable what they’re doing, trying to put faces to the numbers impacted, but it really feels too out of place without enough impact to justify including.

The film also feels incredibly rushed at times with a studio-mandated two-hour cap to its runtime. It keeps the film running briskly without tripping over lulls, but an extra ten minutes could have gone a long way towards untangling some of the story’s logistical gymnastics and giving certain character beats a little more service. However, when the heroes unite to fight, it is a joy to watch with excitement and humor.

DC continues to work on their blueprint for their movies and are seeing some victories post-”Dawn of Justice”. This is a League I would love to see go on other adventures. But with five movies now dealing with some world ending event, and its Justice League roster now established, perhaps it’s time for DC to move on to more personal stakes.

About the Author:


Comments are closed.