By: Isaac Linnen
I recently had the chance to rewatch DC’s effort to outdo the Marvel series, and it fell short. A lot. As a direct sequel to Batman v. Superman, Justice League tries to fix problems with BvS, to varying degrees of success. The main plot is serviceable and tries to strike a balance with a dark and gritty tone that BvS was criticized for and an inspiring and a slightly comedic style in dialogue and character. Even if the comedy it does try is poor.
In a world without Superman, who died in BvS fighting Doomsday, Batman and Wonder Woman go on a mission to assemble a team of powered individuals to stop Steppenwolf from collecting all three Mother Boxes to destroy the Earth. The beginning is fine, if not layered with long exposition of supposedly how bad the world is since Superman died. There are long points of everyone brooding, though fortunately that does not last the entire movie. The movie is a bit slow in the beginning, but the movie takes a quick turn at the third act though, trying to present massive stakes to the audience through the invasion of Earth.
As the villain, Steppenwolf’s motivation is never defined besides just invading the Earth to make way for his master. His only real purpose is to get Mother Boxes here and there, and then get defeated to foreshadow an eventual sequel. We get told that he is a formidable opponent, but it seems to be all talk since he kills some people here or there has two, admittedly cool, fights, then the final confrontation. The final fight is only a few minutes long anyway, barely giving him any room to be a threat.
Now a positive of the movie is the acting. The actors do the best with what they are given. A stand out would be the embodiment of charisma that is Jason Mamoa (Aquaman). Both he and Ezra Miller (The Flash) are the two actors that have the best acting in the movie. They are also the two that represent the shift in tone between BvS and Justice League. The blandest actor is by far Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg. Overall, Cyborg is really the most disappointing characters in the entire movie. Even Batman is more expressive than him. The writing isn’t the worst, but it all goes back to the constant brooding and awkward comedy. The thing is, I know these people can act; it just does not come across that great.
Although DC tried to fix the tone of the plot, the visuals clearly have not been changed to suite it. At the beginning, most of the movie is dark and gloomy with most color seeming muted. Then in the third act, everything looks like its covered in orange Fanta. The CGI is all over the place especially in the third act. Steppenwolf, who is made entirely of CGI, looks like a back-up singer to the California Raisins. Even Superman’s (Henry Cavil), upper lip is CGI due to contractual obligations to Mission Impossible: Fallout, and it does him no favors.
Justice League is trying too hard to be the Avengers and just isn’t working. They are trying to recreate the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s magic in less amount of time without capitalizing on what made it so successful. The spectacle of watching your favorite characters on the big screen fighting bad guys while bouncing off each other. The DC cinematic universe is not doing that and trying to rehash the plot of an alien invasion through a portal in the sky that very similar to the Avengers. If even basing the main plot on your predecessor doesn’t make your movie better, then there I would say that overall Justice League (2017) is a solid 6/10. I’d really just watch Shazam.