Review: Justice League
Directed by Zack Snyder
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Zack Snyder, written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, with Ciarán Hinds and J.K. Simmons. Superman (Cavill) is dead, and the world is plunged into panic and terror. It is up to Batman (Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gadot) to recruit Flash (Miller), Aquaman (Momoa) and Cyborg (Fisher) and form a team that can take on the incoming threat of Steppenwolf (Hinds) and his ravenous alien army.
The DCEU has been rocky from the start. Whether it be mixed receptions to Man of Steel, outright negative responses from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, or the positive yet standalone result of Wonder Woman, it hasn’t been clear where this universe was going. Justice League needed to fix the mistakes of the dour, super-serious past, set a clear path forward for these characters, mix in two directors (Snyder left for personal troubles, Whedon did reshoots and post-production), and in general be a good movie that does justice (pun, intended) to the team’s legacy.
Justice League clearly has two tones working the story, with the first 10 minutes being the self-important and dramatic movie that Zack Snyder is known to make. It’s a wonky start for sure, but the movie smoothens out with each new scene. The humour and snappy writing becomes the highlight of the film and that is what Whedon is known for. The competing styles of Snyder and Whedon is not ideal, but it’s a comfortable blend in the right moments.
There are actually some solid performances from the lead actors, something that people might not expect. Affleck is fantastic as a very different Batman, one who is comfortable to make a joke or at least enjoy the moment. Gadot is still perfect as Wonder Woman, Miller is the real standout as an incredible Flash, Momoa is uber-cool as Aquaman, and Fisher makes Cyborg work so well which I did not think was possible. Even the return of Cavill as Superman is quite refreshing, but I won’t discuss details of that.
Justice League does suffer in many ways, as the writing is much better this time around, but villain Steppenwolf is as boring as Malekith from Thor: The Dark World. The movie is incredibly fast-paced which can gloss over important scenes and feel abruptly short. You are on board with every new scene, but the fact that this movie was heavily changed in production is evident, as even some VFX are obviously unfinished and rough.
Those errors aside, Justice League does boast some stellar work in cinematography and score. Fabian Wagner as DP shoots Justice League in a unique aspect ratio of 1:85:1 which makes everything feel larger-than life, an appropriate format. Danny Elfman’s music might not be an instant hit like his other superhero scores, but it’s filled with themes from other movies and has a loud beating heart in its core.
I’m so happy to say that I actually liked Justice League; for the first time I feel totally on board with this DC universe because I can see the love and care on-and-off-screen. The comic-book references shocked me, the classic characters are some of the best versions we’ve ever seen, the newcomers really come to play in great ways, the action is exciting, the humour is exhilarating, and in general Justice League is a solid piece of popcorn entertainment.