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Justice League - Review

Justice League

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

DC’s superhero universe lumbers from one poorly conceived, woefully executed mess to the next with Justice League.

If the hit-and-miss Wonder Woman earlier this year raised hopes that the franchise had started to correct itself slightly, then Zack Snyder’s return (albeit with directorial help from Joss Whedon following a family tragedy) marks a return to the bad old days of Batman Vs Superman and Suicide Squad.

In a year when Marvel have delivered family friendly web-slinging fun with a reinvigorated Spider-Man: Homecoming and self-deprecating hilarity with the awesome Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League‘s failure feels all the more pronounced.

So, where to begin? Story-wise, the film feels just plain lazy. It’s yet another world in peril scenario that doesn’t attempt to bring anything new to the mix. A Demi-God, or big bad, or whatever you care to name him, OK Steppenwolf (played by Ciaran Hinds), wants to destroy Earth and must acquire three cubes to do so.

Standing in his way is The Justice League, a superhero collective comprised of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) put together by Batman (Ben Affleck) in the wake of Superman’s death.

As with the lamentable Suicide Squad, Justice League opts for action over substance, forgoing any depth and dropping in only token attempts at humour. It’s essentially one long third act, which is as deafening as it is dull.

Where Marvel took time to introduce its key players, here they’re assembled in minutes, thereby depriving audiences of any joy in getting to discover them.

Hence, while the likes of Momoa and Ezra show glimpses of something interesting (and even fun), they’re all too fleeting. Affleck broods without developing, Gadot goes through the motions and Fisher does his best Robocop impression without any real conviction. But then no one emerges from this mess with any real credit, not even Henry Cavill whose returning Superman is one of several ‘big’ moments that completely underwhelm.

Supporting players such as Amy Adams, as a grieving Lois Lane, and JK Simmons, making his debut as Commissioner Gordon, also feel like after-thoughts and end up criminally under-employed given their talents.

Admittedly, Justice League‘s inability to dazzle isn’t solely its own fault. The dye was cast with Batman Vs Superman and the type of world (and tone) that film created. Justice League struggles because DC and its creative team are staying blindly loyal to that template – which means effects heavy smack-downs that are stripped of peril, emotion and, inevitably, interest.

But maybe we’ve been spoilt for too long, what with Marvel’s vastly superior universe and the memory of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy still burning bright. But these examples merely show what can be achieved within the superhero format.

Justice League appears content to go merely through the motions in its all-consuming desire to bludgeon genre fans to death with one set piece showdown after another. So, perhaps the most damning indication of how widely this misses its target is that Justice League can’t even muster a spine-tingling superhero moment.

The action is so fast, and mostly set at night (again), that it’s hard to see what’s going on, let alone care. There is no ingenuity in the set pieces, no imagination and no heart. Justice League is a film that ultimately feels exploitative for the way in which it takes such a recognised brand and does so little with it, while expecting long-suffering fans to continue shelling out their hard earned money to see it.

That’s an injustice to cinema.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 58mins
UK Release Date: November 17, 2017

  1. Still way better than ragnarok.

    Xavier    Nov 16    #
  2. Surprise, surprise, DC get it wrong again. The trailers looked bad. This review raises some good, valid wider points.

    Simone    Nov 17    #