Review: Justice League

Ah, Justice League. Let’s start by getting my position on this out there. I understand what Zack Snyder was trying to do with Man of Steel, but the result was an average movie at best. For the whole theme of Clark Kent becoming the Superman we love to work, it had to be followed by a sequel in which he would actually, you know, be that Superman. Instead we got the two-hours-trapped-in-a-punching-bag that was Batman vs Superman. A movie so bad I felt compelled to re-write it. That was in turn followed by Suicide Squad, an extended music video entirely devoid of plot and purpose. But through it all, we were told Justice League will be better, it will be amazing, it will be so good you will forget that the prequels were fanboy brain crap instead of movies.

Well…Wonder Woman, easily my favourite movie of the year, gives me hope, but not much since Snyder didn’t have his male-gaze paw prints all over that one. If anyone can take that triumph and ruin it…but enough. I have tried to say as spoiler-free as possible before seeing it, and I have read no other reviews, yet, so this will be my honest, immediate reaction. (Please be good. Please be good. Pleeease be good…)

Okay. Well. Um.

It, er, it doesn’t suck?

I may have to sleep on it and do a second review but here’s my immediate reaction. It’s not awful the way BvS was awful. The characters are much closer to who they are meant to be, with the possible exceptions of Aquaman (which is okay, because his character isn’t meant to be the Aquaman yet) and Cyborg who I’m not at all familiar with so can’t assess. No one is totally character-assassinated. The plot makes sense, by which I mean I didn’t leave the theatre wondering which parts of the movie I missed – it’s not a great plot, but there is a solid narrative driving the action. The music is exceptionally good; I don’t mean the score, I mean the song choices are perfect for the film and story in the same way as the songs in Guardian of the Galaxy are perfect for that movie. And that’s the last Marvel comparison I will make.

The visuals are amazing – that is one thing Zack Snyder is reliably good at, though I do think its a bit CGI-heavy. (If you notice the CGI, it’s overdone.) And despite the internet being filled with spoilers and speculation for the past year, there were some surprises. Good surprises.

But there is bad stuff, too. The Amazon costumes, oh my Goddess. Why take the incredible work done on Wonder Woman and pick a costume designer who thinks Amazons fight in bikinis! I mean, seriously? Do men do battle with their bums out? Although, I will concede that it wasn’t just the women. Cyborg – who is supposed to be machine from the shoulders down – has a fantastic ass. Do machine-butt-shots count? Aquaman gets his shirt off a lot. And Wonder Woman. I suppose we should be grateful that they didn’t chop the midriff out of her iconic costume, but when she’s not in costume, she’s back to dressing like a high-class hooker: every single outfit making it clear she can’t possibly be wearing a bra. Cameras linger on her high-heeled boots, her legs, her flying hair, far more than any of the men.

Also I’m furious that this all-male team gave Mera’s aquakinetic power to Aquaman. He has his own power set – that one is hers.

Then there is the villain. Or, rather, there kind of isn’t. I’m not very familiar with Steppenwolf from the comics but here he’s this weird Frankenstein-demonic-monster-thing who shows up, fights a lot, steals boxes which he addresses as “mother” (and honestly, I was just waiting for him to cry “mommie!” when he lost) and apparently has a three-thousand year old grudge against the Earth. But the film does a lousy job of showing us his motivation or character or even of making him particularly scary. He’s just, you know, loud and blows stuff up a lot.

The team coming together feels rushed and it wasn’t believable that they could come together and function so well as a team so quickly. There are fun moments, but the humour sometimes seems very out of place.

Batman – much more like the Bruce Wayne I know, human, smart, unstoppable, kind. Finally we’re getting there.

Wonder Woman – overly-sexy costumes aside, I didn’t hate her in this. They didn’t get her right, but I can live with it.

Aquaman – badass, and I’m so looking forward to his movie next year. Can’t wait to see what a competent director makes of him.

Cyborg – I liked what I saw. An intriguing introduction to the character, but while he was crucial to the climax, he kind of felt tacked on for most of it.

Flash – Okay, I admit Ezra Miller is brilliant. The best of the humour came from him and his character felt the most human.

Superman – disappointing, but not in the way I expected. I mean, I thought we’d be back to Superman The Murder Machine, and at least that didn’t happen. But the resurrection that was teased…well, that’s not how it happened, either. What happened was okay, I guess, and I do like how his character developed, but it’s time to get someone who loves Superman to make his movies.

Lois Lane – wasted.

Commissioner Gordon – forgettable.

*taking a deep breath*

You know what I think says it all? That the best part of the film, the scene that had the most packed into it, was the second post-credits scene. You know, the one most cinema-goers don’t bother to wait around for.

For comparison:

rotten tomatoes Justive League
As on 17 November 2017