Considering the intense scrutiny surrounding this film, I have decided to break from format for a review that is a little longer than usual:
‘Justice League’ exists within a tricky, awkward environment, as the film attempts to both cater towards critique of ‘Batman V Superman’ and reaffirm DC’s distinctive cinematic tone and visual flair. One may blame the critics for holding Warner Bros. to such a ransom, others may suggest it is constructive development, but unfortunately, consequently, the film lacks a signature directorial identity, resulting in a largely thematically muted, unambitious and generic entry into the superhero genre.
With abhorrent visual effects, CGI and green-screening, the visual presence of this film briefly benefits from a scatter of high-contrast shots that beautifully pay homage to Alex Ross’ work, but otherwise is a mess, and not even a beautiful one. While the world still feels particularly DC, with sharp edges, a gritty sense of the working class civilian and hope in reach on the peripheral, the mythology is still let down by obvious exposition. Furthermore, while Snyder’s films usually parallel these visual notions with thematic or political ones, a clear positive of BvS, this film lacks those sentiments and with a bland, poorly rendered and written villain, the struggle between the League and Evil lacks depth or intellectual magnitude.
However, the League itself does gel excellent when in battle emphasising a team attitude. Yet, this often feels false considering little time outside of fighting is given to enhancing their understanding of each other. Their interactions in these quieter moments rely upon juvenile humour and emotional motivations and background anecdotes are rarely expressed. This humour also takes The Flash as a victim, as his non-stop silly, careless vibe and demeanour strips the character of the complex foundation his backstory proposes. Similarly, Aquaman is under-utilised and feels like a support than a real League member. Cyborg has the only real emotional beats of the film, and Ray Fisher provides a bravado performance, yet the character often acted as a Deus ex machina and broke tension. Conversely, Batman is under-powered, with little to do inside the actual battles, especially as his plans are often undermined. Wonder Woman is not objectified to the extent many may argue, though the humour certainly pushes it at some stages, while the Amazonians also seem to take a step backwards from their own film. However, Wonder Woman is still the most gratifying character in battle, and Gal Gadot’s energy and obvious passion is evident with Diana Prince
‘Justice League’ is heavily flawed, it lacks ambition, theme, emotional resonance and an intriguing plot. It has certain moments of satisfaction, but much of this feels staged and undeserving. 2/5