‘Justice League’ not epic, just an entertaining popcorn flick
It’s much simpler than expected, but DC Comics’ live-action “Justice League” film is enjoyable popcorn fare, despite the baffling exclusion of key dramatic scenes from the trailer.
This culmination of connected films—“Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Wonder Woman”—stridently brings together some of the comic-book company’s more iconic heroes. The previous dreary tone and numbing seriousness are eschewed for a much brighter palette and welcome accessibility.
It definitely helps—and from the ashes of the grim “Batman v Superman” comes a considerably lighter and virtually angst-free film by director Zack Snyder, aided by former “Avengers” helmer Joss Whedon, after the former bowed out of the project due to family matters.
After Superman’s demise in “BvS,” immortal amazon Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and aging vigilante Batman (Ben Affleck) finally contact the heroes glimpsed in the previous movie: the Atlantean warrior Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the hyper-quick Flash (Ezra Miller) and man-machine fusion Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
Alien visitors, previously seen in the other film’s dream sequence, make their presence felt, possibly emboldened by the absence of the Man of Steel. Leading these beings is Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who’s looking for long-scattered artifacts.
So, that’s about it, plot-wise. Self-styled superheroes band together out of necessity, not unlike in the “Avengers.” But this one feels more like “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” right down to the CGI and combat overload. The team doesn’t form as smoothly or as envisioned. It’s not like the disappointing “BvS” at all—and it’s not as sophisticated as fans hoped it would be.
Still, the characterization and humor, while hit-and-miss, mostly inject life, especially to the newcomers. That only goes, however, for the heroes; the main villain could’ve been more interesting, although he does have a kickass costume and wields an intimidating weapon.
Sure, there are even more epic stories imagined by the source comic books and even the “Justice League” cartoons from the 2000s. This film certainly tries, although some drama from the trailers could’ve helped texture the film more.
Also, there will be comparisons to the “Arrowverse” counterparts on TV, specifically with how the Flash’s origin plays out. Let’s just say that the small-screen version has a more endearing quality to their characters that isn’t quite there in the film iteration.
Nonetheless, this new, inexperienced jokester version by Miller isn’t too bad. That clunky patchwork costume, though, as some fans point out, does remind you of Lady Gaga’s old meat dress.
In any case, the mellow Batman and still-lovable Wonder Woman mesh well with the new heroes, some initial hitches notwithstanding. Momoa is fun as a rowdy version of Aquaman, and Fisher blends rather easily with his tragic figure-turned-protector shtick.
It also connects nicely to “Wonder Woman,” released just a few months ago, and Gadot is easily the most refreshing part of this project, just like in “BvS.” Other inevitably returning characters—three guesses who—are changed for the better, too, but one major subplot is resolved rather quickly and far too simply.
It’s not the truly epic “Justice League” that fans may have anticipated but, despite its imperfections, it revels in its blustering, shimmery chaos. The “pantheon” is formed, and two extra scenes during and after the end-credits promise bigger and brighter adventures ahead.
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