Movie Review - Justice League (2017)
The clearest comparison though is to The Avengers. This film is very similar. A bad guy wants to take over or destroy the world. The super-heroes reluctantly come together or have issue unifying, but it all culminates in them joining forces and fighting an epic battle. It is this movie's disadvantage that it only had three films precede, whereas The Avengers had five. Yes, five movies came before and were designed to set-up The Avengers. This movie only three movies to set it up. This movie's length is also 20 minutes shorter than The Avengers, so there simply wasn't enough material either before or during that makes this film effective.
Let's start with the bad guy. What made Loki a great bad guy in The Avengers is the dynamic performance from Tom Hiddleston, as well as the good writing. It was a good idea to have Loki as the villain because of the personal connection. Loki had a personal connection to one of the Avengers. The villain here is named Steppenwolf and he doesn't have any personal connections. That personal connection would have helped to anchor this film.
If having a personal connection is impossible, then the film can still have an engaging villain, if the film allows us to get to know that villain personally and help us to understand that villain. This film begins in a similar fashion to Spider-Man: Homecoming, which hit theaters this past summer, by showing us a scene that is made to look as if it were shot on an iPhone. Given that, it seemed as if the following scene would also be like that of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which introduced us to its villain and allowed us get to know him, but this movie doesn't do that. We really don't spend enough time with Steppenwolf to get to know him.
If one is familiar with the Justice League or Justice League Unlimited series, those animated programs often had episodes, which had villains pop out of nowhere, put up a fight with the super-heroes and then leave. There was often not much more to them, but what it lacked in well-developed villainy, it tried to compensate with character development on the part of the super-heroes. Often, those cartoons were successful on that front. This film, however, is not or at least it leaves a lot to be desired.
Ben Affleck (Gone Girl and Argo) stars as Bruce Wayne aka Batman. There has been several, very successful, live-action films about Batman. Plus, the previous Snyder film recapped in slow-motion Batman's back-story, so we need no explanation of him. Batman learns that aliens are invading Earth, so he needs a team of super-powered people to stop the aliens.
Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious and Keeping Up With the Joneses) co-stars as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. The film about her this summer excellently established who she is. She is an Amazonian warrior who is also a goddess. She fought along side Batman in the previous Snyder film. She's actually able to explain what the aliens are, and she has no problem helping Batman to gather a team and fight.
Jason Momoa (Games of Thrones and Stargate: Atlantis) appears as Arthur Curry aka Aquaman. He's the second character here who hasn't had his own stand-alone film. When Batman goes to recruit Aquaman, even Batman can't really understand what Aquaman's powers are. The underwater sequences are a blurry, dark mess. Why he decides to join the team or what value he adds is never made all that compelling.
In The Avengers, even characters who didn't have stand-alone films were still very well-rendered. Black Widow, for example, emerged triumphantly in The Avengers, despite movie-going audiences only getting a glimpse of her previously. Here, on the other hand, Aquaman and Cyborg land so flatly. While I was eager to see more from Black Widow after The Avengers, I'm still indifferent to both Aquaman and Cyborg after this.
Affleck and Gadot are fine, but Amy Adams who reprises her role of Lois Lane was a bit short-changed. Half-way through the film, Batman gets the idea to resurrect Superman who died at the end of Snyder's previous movie. It would've made more sense and given Adams more purpose in this film, if it were Lois pushing for Superman's resurrection, a resurrection that benefits from allowing an extended sequence of a shirtless Henry Cavill but that suffers from not so seamless CGI effects to make his face more clean-shaven than his chest. Superman had facial hair in Man of Steel, so what was the big deal?
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 59 mins.