WEEKEND WEB: Cut the superheroes some slack...
GAVIN MILLER reviews the new DC Comics blockbuster, Justice League.
Despite all the bad press DC Comics’ superhero ensemble isn’t anywhere near as bad as the mainstream critics would have you believe.
Admittedly it’s not up there with Marvel’s more polished equivalent The Avengers, but comic-book fans will still find much to enjoy from this flawed, but enjoyable, blockbuster spectacle.
As long as you give it plenty of sympathy for following the terrible Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the unfortunate family tragedy that hit director Zack Snyder – which led to Avengers Assemble helmer Joss Whedon being drafted in with the unenviable task of piecing this together – that is.
So if you don’t expect too much, it actually kind of works. Among the backdrop of a generically clunky and cheesily-conceived script.
You’ll get nothing new from this, bar Batman (Ben Affleck), teaming up with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and – unless you really expected him to remain dead – Henry Cavill’s Superman. But their chemistry is just about enough to pull it through – with a nice smattering of fun-packed moments thrown in.
Let’s get the good out of the way first: the lack of back stories for the three less recognisable members of the team are dealt with pretty well. And the trio (particularly Miller’s comedic relief) have an impact on the movie.
Gadot is still impressive as Wonder Woman; Superman’s comeback is dealt with ‘fairly’ well, and Affleck does his best as the moody Bruce Wayne/Batman (even though the jury’s out with me – and maybe Jake Gyllenhaal replacing him will put everyone out of their misery).
Also some of the intertwining lore, including a fantastic Amazonian battle that features Connie Nielsen’s Queen Hippolyta, an appearance from the Green Lantern Corps, and a mouth-watering ‘after the final credits scene’ impact pretty well on proceedings.
And the Ciaran Hinds’ (Munich) voiced CGI-laden Steppenwolf isn’t as bad a villain as some maybe would have expected – even though he’s as stereotypical as they come.
On a final ‘plus’ point, the usually ‘messy’ battle sequences that have plagued the DCEU are more coherent and easier on the eye than ever before too.
As for the bad: the script simply isn’t up to scratch, the plotting – the three boxes storyline almost pulls from the Avengers infinity stones arc – embarrassingly predictable, the editing sometimes hap-hazard, and generally the film offers a complete lack of ingenuity.
And the returning supporting cast like Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, JK Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon and Diane Lane’s Martha Kent, are sorely underused.
Oh, and the editing out of Cavill’s moustache – as he had to return for reshoots while filming Mission: Impossible 6 – is laughable. My son could have done better on our Mac.
But if you cut it some slack, and just enjoy the essential moments of the Justice League teaming up for the first time on film – it actually does the job.
In fact the camaraderie between the team is arguably on a par with the Avengers at some points – and does enough to show DC Comic’s universe could still be saved.
And that’s despite its underperforming US box-office weekend of $94 million – about the same as Godzilla as a benchmark – which shows that the Batman v Superman negativity definitely had an impact.
In DC terms this about on par with both Man of Steel and Suicide Squad – both mixed experiences that had their moments – so if you enjoyed both of them, there’s plenty to gain here.
And if you liked Wonder Woman, Gadot continues to bring ‘girl power’ to the table, as she single-handedly tries to keep this cinematic universe together – even though the head-honchos at Warner Bros would have expected more than a reliance on her when they tried to emulate Marvel’s winning formula from 2013 onwards.
But if you don’t expect too much, there’s just enough ‘flash’es of something ‘super’ here to leave you ‘wonder’ing if this league could just save Warner’s prized intellectual property before it potentially falls apart.
If not, that would be one hell of a waste for everyone concerned.
Rating: 3.5/5 - Gavin Miller