- Product Rating -

Justice League

| December 8, 2017

It’s been no question that there’s a war between Marvel fans and DC fans, largely fueled by the perception that the films of the latter have been unjustly targeted in regards to poor storytelling and messy filmmaking. There are a lot of wars to choose from nowadays, so this war is pretty moot in my eyes—if a movie is good, then good. However, the production issues behind Justice League made it pretty difficult to anticipate a cohesive and enjoyable film, and despite my hoping that Wonder Woman’s creative and commercial success would foreshadow the successive entry in the DCEU, that possibility didn’t come to fruition. Justice League is what you would expect and what you would fear it would be, a cacophony of clashing tones and an overabundance of characters squished into two hours. While that runtime is gracious when held adjacent to other films in the franchise, it’s still not enough to contain everything going on, with the filmmakers instead focusing on numbing action and awkward jokes, ultimately making for the worst DECU installment yet given just how aggressively boring and generic it is.

After the events of the preceding entries, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has now found himself enamored by the selflessness that Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) has acted with at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With this—and the emergence of the evil Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds)—he teams up with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fischer) to defeat the maniacal military officer spearheading an army that’s in search of not just one but three MacGuffins, here called the Mother Boxes. Oh yeah, and Superman comes back after his “death”, which is not a spoiler in any corner of the multiverse since he 1.) can’t die and 2.) has been featured in the trailers and posters for this movie—and Cavill’s real-life mustache has been awkwardly CG’d off of his face.

As widely publicized, Zack Snyder had to step away from Justice League due to a family tragedy, leading Warner Bros. to bring in Joss Whedon to finish the film. This is apparent in the finished product, with Snyder’s overly serious tone clashing against Whedon’s silly humor and flippant dialogue. These are pretty obvious issues, but a huge issue is one that’s dogged the franchise so far: lack of development. This is the first time that the The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg have really gotten any screen time, and they’re one-dimensional with no engaging relationships to any other characters.

The Flash is an unfunny punchline dispenser, Aquaman is a Metallica roadie, and Cyborg is just kind of there, but not really given that I forgot that he was in this movie until every time they cut back to him for a reaction shot to something that someone else said. Steppenwolf, meanwhile, is a black hole of a villain, devoid of any clear want or personality, as if his very existence is obligatory. Peripheral characters such as Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) are even more expendable than in previous installments, completely wasting the charisma and talents of their respective performers.

The biggest sin with Justice League, though, is how painfully boring it is. Now, even if I didn’t like any of the other DC Extended Universe movies other than Wonder Woman, they at least had at least one aspect going for them. Man of Steel had a structure, Batman v Superman had themes, and Suicide Squad had what I guess could be called a personality. Justice League spends the first 50 of its 120 minutes on tenuously connected scenes and characters spewing out exposition, and the rest of the runtime is a rampage of bad jokes, repetitive conversations that don’t move anything forward, and loud action scenes that are more obnoxious than anything else. There’s so little to speak of because so little happens, and the movie feels far at least 45 minutes longer than its actual runtime. I fell asleep twice, and each time I woke up, the movie was in the same void that it was in at the beginning.

Justice League isn’t so much a movie as it is a clear representation of the rut that the DCEU has been digging itself deeper and deeper into, as if some malicious force is daring the franchise to outdo its awfulness. It’s one thing to be messy; it’s another thing to be underdeveloped. It’s a whole other thing to be generic, though, and it’s a cardinal sin to be boring, especially for a blockbuster. It’s a movie that speaks volumes to just how misguided something can be when it’s being tossed from person to person like a herpes-infected hot potato, and at the end of the day, I’m not even sure that I saw an actual movie. It’s a two-hour trailer with some good cinematography and decent sound design. There’s one scene where Wonder Woman says, “Children… I work with children.” Yeah, no kidding.

About the Author:

Senior year film student at Columbia College Chicago, Hollywood Film Festival pre-screener, and Best Social Media Presence for North Farmington High School's 2014 senior mock elections. Firmly believes that ".gif" is pronounced "jiff".
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