Once again, we find ourselves in the same position we were in last time a DC Film came out. Massive speculation and hope from fans and audiences alike about the future of their cinematic universe. As for me, after the success of Wonder Woman I didn’t know what to think so for Justice League a clean slate frame of mind was needed. This is DC’s hottest property and having re-shoots and rewrites doesn’t exactly fill your fans with the confidence. Regardless, to understand Justice League, let’s take a trip back to 2013 with the release of Man of Steel.
Remember the tone of Man of Steel, this was to be the framework for all future DC films, grounded and the feel of taking the comic books seriously. Now in 2017, it feels as though a secret meeting was held to rewrite what had already been written and not tell us about it. This is a very light-hearted film but without the major tonal inconsistencies of Suicide Squad, the characters joke around and witty sneak their way in through intense action scenes.
Despite having Joss Whedon taking over from Zack Snyder, Justice League is still identifiable as his work. Whilst watching the film, it never made any scenes which were re-shoots painfully obvious and in doing so, the stylistic consistency was very smooth, regardless of whether you’re a fan of Zack Snyder’s directorial style. Speaking of which, I have always though of Zack Snyder’s filmmaking as being more about the presentation and it shows in Justice League with not much character depth but at times makes them look visually great. The action scenes, whilst clearly are more over the top than usual are still entertaining and comfortable to witness. During a scene with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) where she is deflecting bullets left right and centre, the entire presentation of that brief action scene is laughably overblown, yet not so much that it falls into the realm of unbelievable.
We’ve been introduced to half of the Justice League already, now we are introduced to the other half in The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. While all seem interesting in their own right, I left intrigued and wanting to know more about Flash or Barry Allen (Ezra Miller). There was doubt over his quirky performance, but it works surprisingly well for this Barry Allen’s direction as well as the overall feel of the film. All that needs to be done for me is to scrape away the characters millennial attitude and what we are left with is someone who is quirky but most importantly likeable in a way he can reach out to any age group. It appears Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is being built as the manly man character with a hint of a fun, jock like personality with a certain charm about him, certainly a likeable character. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) on the other hand is probably the most devising amongst audiences, the film decided to go down the deep. personal route and make his character feels out-of-place with the world, however this direction does feels as though it ever landed or at the least very rushed.
With so many heroes that need introducing in Justice League, the writers seem to have completely forgotten about its main villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). Did the writers become too blindsided by the importance of its main heroes that they forgot to make the main threat to this film just as interesting? This character will be the most infuriating element of the film because of his copy and paste, simplistic motivation of destroying the world that is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I would even go so far as to say this is one of the shallowest villains we’ve seen in a superhero film (Doomsday coming a close second). Do the people behind these films realise that your protagonists status as a hero is determined by the status of his/her villain?
There is a ton of unnecessary dialogue in Justice League that serves to state the obvious. Zack Snyder needs to learn that a face can reveal more emotions than words can. By cutting out dialogue that states the obvious you are giving the reaction scenes more depth. The funniest thing is, Justice League actually has a scene exactly like this where the actors are allowed to react instead of talk which can’t be discussed here because of spoilers. So why does the film have to go back and forth with its quality of writing?
Justice League is DC’s way of telling its fans that they want to switch directions with what they have previously set out to do. The problem with this is, whilst the extended universe is moving forwards it is slowly starting to cross into the path of what Marvel is doing, the biggest fear for anyone following this franchise. Eventually DC is going to be caught up in Marvel’s tailwind at which point they’ll have to make their point clear to get into the overtaking position. It isn’t set in stone if fans will be able to accept this new take but if there is any certainty is that the bumpy road DC have laid out for themselves isn’t going to get any more comfortable.
I will openly admit that Zack Snyder can make his character larger than life through the visual appeal, but it wasn’t the visual appeal in the comics that made us build a connection with these characters, it their though process, their depth, their all round righteousness. Once Snyder can place these same connections into the DC cinematic universe, than just maybe this universe can get itself back on track as being a dominating cinematic powerhouse.
Final Result: 4/10 – Below Average
Have you seen Justice League? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Suburbicon