Review: ‘Justice League’ is a fun thrill ride, but it has some major issues

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ezra Miller, from left, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot in a scene from "Justice League." (Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via AP)

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ezra Miller, from left, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot in a scene from "Justice League." (Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via AP)

This is the first time the Justice League has come together on the big screen. But is the film a right step forward for Warner Bros.’s crazed DC cinematic universe?

After the wonder that was “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League” is fun and nothing more, lacking the very thing the film claims it’s fighting for: Hope. It’s undoubtedly the character dynamics between the League that make “Justice League” an exhilarating ride, but take away the cast and all that’s left is a stupid plot, horrible story beats, a CGI fest the likes of another Warner Bros. misfire, “Geostorm,” and a two-hour studio cut that should’ve never involved Joss Whedon.

It’s almost ironic that Whedon, the director of one of the best superhero movies of all time, “The Avengers,” was brought on to reshoot most of “Justice League” after the film’s director Zack Snyder had to leave due to a personal issue. What’s even more ironic is that what makes “Justice League” a bad movie is how closely it resembles “The Avengers.” And not because it was made following the Marvel template, but because “Justice League” feels like it’s undergone various surgeries to get that Marvel touch. There’s a Zack Snyder film and a Joss Whedon film in “Justice League,” and while at times the two styles seamlessly intertwine, most of the times it’s the contrary. A spiral of problems ensues; one that starts with the plot.

The movie centers on the big CGI-constructed superbad Steppenwolf and his quest to unite three Mother Boxes, the source of incredible power. The three Mother Boxes are safeguarded by the Amazons, the Atlanteans and by humans at S.T.A.R. Labs. This quest for the Boxes prompts Batman (Ben Affleck) to form the Justice League. With the help of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), a rookie Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the team try to stop Steppenwolf and his horde of Parademons.

Though the Justice League has the most powerful person on the planet on their team, Wonder Woman, who is literally called “The God Killer,” the movie wants to bring Superman (Henry Cavill) back from the dead. While there’s nothing wrong in doing so, how it’s done is as silly and ridiculous as a “Scooby Doo” monster reveal. Superman indeed returns, but there’s absolutely no reason why Wonder Woman couldn’t have taken Steppenwolf on her own, given her backstory in her own film.

As soon as Superman is back in the action, Steppenwolf becomes a $20 punching bag from a wannabe-Dick’s Sporting Goods store. That’s in part due to Steppenwolf being the most one-dimensional, boring, superficial supervillain to ever exist since Malekith from “Thor: The Dark World.” The worst part is that there seems to be a fabulous character arc for Steppenwolf in the film, but the limited two-hour runtime has seemingly cut it all away.

Like Steppenwolf, the majority of the movie is crafted with CGI, and not the good kind. Key moments in the film feel like video game sequences and if there’s one CGI aspect that completely baffles, it’s Superman’s CGI-removed mustache. Back during the Whedon reshoots, Henry Cavill was simultaneously filming for the upcoming Paramount film “Mission: Impossible 6.” The problem was that in that movie Cavill has a very distinguishable mustache and Paramount refused to let him shave it for the “Justice League” reshoots. Hence, Warner Bros. was forced to digitally remove the mustache from Superman’s face. What we get, unfortunately, is what looks like Superman trying on a Snapchat face that just won’t stick.

Despite all of these problems, what “Justice League” gets right is the team dynamic. If you are a fan of the classic Justice League animated series from Cartoon Network, then the film will definitely put a smile on your face. Batman and Wonder Woman feel like a stellar mom-and-dad duo, while the other members of the League feel like the kids who never settle. Ezra Miller as The Flash and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman give the best performances, and Ben Affleck as Batman proves once more why he is the best actor to ever portray the dark knight on the big screen. Aquaman feels like the stereotypical surfer bro-dude, but that is definitely not a bad thing. Momoa makes the character his own, all of which makes me more excited for his upcoming solo film.

All in all, while “Justice League” could’ve been so much better, the film is totally worth watching. The cinematic debut of the DC super team is in no way as good as “The Avengers,” but there is still greatness in a somewhat mediocre “Justice League.”

Rating: 4/5


Carlos Rosario Gonzalez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at carlos.rosario_gonzales@uconn.edu.