The lights faded to black and the film begun. But right from the get go, something felt off. This movie didn't feel like it should feel. There wasn't any gravitas or impact to what was happening on screen, the images just floating through space without consequence. But it could just have been an average start. After all, the first act of Thor: Ragnarok was a mess and I still ended up enjoying that. However, this weird feeling never left. It remained for the entirety of the runtime, making the flaws of the film even more apparent as time went by. I couldn't believe it. It was actually happening. I was finally started to see why everyone else hated these movies. Justice League, I regret to inform you, is not good.
Together, these five heroes must stand side by side to take down an enemy far greater than any of them have ever seen before. Well, except maybe Wonder Woman. Based on her solo film back in June, she seems to have this whole fighting monsters thing down pat. As a whole, though, Justice League serves as an exiting stepping off point for the DC universe to follow, with character relationships firmly established and plot elements set up for future solo movies. Flash and Cyborg in particular have a great dynamic, but Flash manages to have a great dynamic with everyone in the team (particularly Superman, who I will delve into shortly). He's the star player. Ezra Miller kills it, making this a distinctly different and welcomed interpretation of the character that can hold his ground against his TV counterpart.
One thing Justice League does (mostly) right is character. All of these heroes have distinct characteristics and powers, and all the actors bring them flawlessly to life, if not a big exaggerated at times. There's so many show stealing, nerd satisfying moments throughout, whether it's a battle sequence or a hilarious character beat. One moment in particular where Aquaman talks openly to the entire team is a show stealer. Chris Terrio, and later on Joss Whedon who also receives a screenwriting credit, understands who these characters are. They play well off of each other, and the team dynamic is one of my favourite parts of the film. Even Superman (Henry Cavill), who only gets a minor role to play, but a bigger one than expected, feels rejuvenated and like the Superman he always should have been.
Zack Snyder is a very visual filmmaker. Occasionally, it leans into style over substance, but his visuals are to die for. Here, however, it doesn't feel very much like a Snyder movie. This film is ugly. And I mean UGLY. The cinematography and the visual effects are a nightmare. They're not pretty or creative, often cheap and cartoony, something that's been a continuing trend throughout most of this year's comic book movies. It all becomes even more apparent when you get to the CGI bonanza of a finale, as anti-climactic as it was. The red overlay is good in concept, but on screen, it looks cheap and unfinished. Henry Cavill was forced to film reshoots with a moustache, due to contractual commitments to Mission: Impossible 5, and the removal is... noticeable, to say the least. His inhuman face is going to give me nightmares.
I really wish I liked this movie more. It's a live action Justice League movie for god's sake, but unfortunately, it's not a great one. There’s a strange self-awareness of the critiques fans have had previously, and you'll never be bored throughout its runtime, but nothing really screams with greatness. Its all your typical superhero movie quibbles dialed up to eleven, so if you aren't a fan of what's already come (or even if you are), don't expect this movie to blow you away. This isn't the game changer we were all hoping for, especially after the global success of Wonder Woman.
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