‘Justice League’ — In a word, fine

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 at 5:14 PM
‘Justice League’ — In a word, fine by Britton Rozzelle

I searched for hours, trying to find a word that, in this situation, would mean going into something, be it an experience or film, with the absolute lowest expectations possible and ultimately enjoying it. After “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” and years of production issues and delays, there was no reason to expect DC’s flagship title “Justice League” to be a movie good enough to even qualify as “okay.” 

Previews painted it as yet another dour, dark and depressing film set entirely at night, oft-times in the rain, with growly, edge-laden dialogue. Early reviews claimed it was “abysmal” and “messy,” and it (at time of writing) is at 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. 

I’m pleased to report that while it isn’t an especially amazing example of modern filmmaking, “Justice League” is a fun (enough) action film in the DC cinematic universe, not entirely devoid of soul (like “Man of Steel”), but not well written or smart enough to come with wholehearted recommendation (like “Wonder Woman”). It is, in a word, fine.

Reprising their roles as the DC Trinity, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill do a good job selling their characters in a way “Batman V Superman” didn’t. Batman jokes, Wonder Woman shines as a beacon of hope for children (especially little girls) and Superman comes across as the character he’s supposed to be — much more in line with the Christopher Reeve films than his dark and tortured characterization in “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman.” 

Newcomers to the universe, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher as The Flash and Cyborg, both do good jobs with their characters as well, with the former stealing several scenes with legitimately fun dialogue. The two have a chemistry unseen in the rest of the cast. 

Jason Momoa, appearing as Aquaman, brings a detached, kind of otherworldly performance that seems tonally inconsistent with literally everything else in the film, but it’s hardly my biggest complaint. 

It’s very easy to tell which pieces of this film were done by Zack Snyder and which were done by Joss Whedon. Entire scenes have different color grading to them, and overall the movie seems brighter than the previews suggested. The dialogue in several sections feels distinctly “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” circa 2002, which does clash with surrounding moments in the film. The editing too feels off, and it becomes more apparent as the movie goes on that the “Director’s Cut” edition will likely be a much more enjoyable experience. 

The CG and special effects are ultimately my biggest gripe with the film. Steppenwolf, who arguably gets as much screen time as any individual member of the team, looks like a poorly-designed villain from a Playstation 2 game, while Cyborg’s entire body doesn’t move in a way that’s even remotely convincing. In motion, specifically in action scenes, it’s much less noticeable, but the nagging thought that the film feels like something from 2004 never went away. 

From the classic characterization of Superman, to the CG throughout the film, to the ever-present attempt at witty, early 2000s quips, “Justice League” feel dated despite everything. That being said, it doesn’t fail to entertain and is a much more enjoyable experience than anything from the DC camp aside from “Wonder Woman.” 

Ultimately, unless you’re a DC die-hard, wait for this one to come out with a “Director's Cut” version that can hopefully reshape this film into something better than the sum of its parts. 

Britton Rozzelle can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: film review

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