Nerds (like me) have been waiting almost 50 years for a Justice League movie. Seriously. In the late 1970’s when I was very small, one of my favorite cartoons was The Superfriends, a watered-down version of the Justice League. (The TV networks didn’t allow the name “Justice League” because they thought the term was too “jingoistic.” Ah, left-wingers.) This movie has been anticipated longer than any Star Wars movie, or any other franchise you could name with the possible exception of James Bond.
Is it good?
The answer is, it depends on you. I’ll lay it all out below. Warning, this review contains some spoilers, but frankly, this is the kind of simple, fun movie where it really doesn’t matter if you know spoilers or not.
If you didn’t already know, the director, Zak Snyder, had to pull out of production early because his daughter committed suicide. Snyder was responsible for the overly dark and complicated tone of movies like Batman v Superman and Man of Steel. I liked Man of Steel and my mini-review of that movie is here, but Batman v Superman was way too dark and convoluted (my full review is here).
When Snyder pulled out, the ridiculous Joss Whedon stepped in. This was actually a good thing, since Whedon, they guy behind the Avengers movies, lightened the tone and removed much of the morose, depressing feeling the movie would have had if Snyder was still in charge. The movie is actually too light and campy at times, going to the opposite extreme.
But you know what? This is a damn superhero movie with Superman and Batman and shit. If you don’t have the ability to turn off your brain when watching a movie like this, you shouldn’t go see something like this in the first place. Every once in a while, we get an amazingly interesting and complex superhero movie like Captain America: Civil War, but I realize those are the exceptions to the rule. If you just relax and shut off most of your brain, Justice League is fun. Plenty of problems, but still fun.
Superman (yes, he comes back, that’s not a really big spoiler) is finally done correctly. For the first time in these new movies, Superman is the corny, happy-go-lucky Superman instead of the depressed, brooding, Batman-like Superman we’ve had in the last two movies in the series. What happens right after his return is the best part of the movie. The best scene in the entire movie is when Flash learns, with a simple turn of Superman’s head, exactly how powerful (and fast) Superman really is.
Wonder Woman is fine. Not great, but fine. As I’ve already said before, Gal Gadot is a moderately skilled actress and doesn’t look like Wonder Woman at all, which still bothers me. (Wonder Woman has a huge, almost female body builder frame and really big tits, Gal Gadot is tall, but extremely skinny and flat-chested.) Most men have been enraptured by Gal Gadot’s very pretty face, but that still doesn’t mean she looks or acts like Wonder Woman. Still, Gadot isn’t bad, and I accept her in the role.
There has been some complaining on both sides of the political isle about this movie, from the alt-right bitching about how it shows white men being evil (huh?) to the SJW’s bitching about how it oversexualizes women. It’s all BS. There is one scene were Gal Gadot dresses unusually sexy and her butt is in the frame twice. There’s one more scene that lasts literally one second where the Flash falls onto Wonder Woman’s boobs (or more accurately, boob-armor, since Gal Gadot has no boobs). That’s it. Stupid, but not “oversexalizing” in a two hour movie.
As usual, people on the extreme right and left are actively looking to get upset. Jesus people, get a fucking life. Seriously.
Batman is also pretty good, but this bigger, buffer, slower, older version of Batman still takes a little getting used to. Ben Affleck is good as Batman, but I still see mostly Ben Affleck instead of Bruce Wayne. I would have preferred they casted a lesser-known person, but I realize that’s not how Hollywood works.
I really like how vulnerable they show Batman is as compared to the other superheroes. Batman is the only one without super powers. When Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, or whomever gets thrown against a car, they just shake it off and get back into battle. But when Batman gets thrown into a car, even with his considerable armor, it hurts. He groans and is basically out of action, and later you see his back is covered in horrible bruises. I like it.
His older age is also an issue, which I also like. The best line in the movie is when Wonder Woman tells him, “You can’t do this forever,” and he responds, “I can barely do this now.”
Cyborg is fantastic. He’s probably the best in the film. He’s an unknown actor which again, is a good thing and really helps the audience get into the character. I can’t wait for this guy to have his own movie, which apparently he will.
The Flash is entertaining and funny. He’s a little over the top, but in this kind of movie it works. I legitimately laughed several times. He should probably dial down the performance just a little bit, but I have no complaints. Good job.
Aquaman is fun, though frankly, he’s really just Jason Momoa playing himself. I wasn’t really watching Aquaman as much as I was watching Jason Momoa wearing an Aquaman costume. As such, this version of Aquaman is nothing like any version of the character in the comics. I’m not exactly complaining though, since I like Jason Momoa and find him to be a fun and entertaining Alpha Male persona.
The villain in this movie is fucking horrible. He’s a CGI bad guy who looks like absolute crap, whose mouth doesn’t follow his speech, whose motivations are unclear, and who is thoroughly uninteresting. I find it fascinating that superhero movies always have such difficulty having interesting villains in their movies. Very weird, and a huge fail that really damaged the movie.
Speaking of CGI, some of the CGI in this movie is pretty bad. Why? Why must a movie that cost almost $300 million have crappy CGI anywhere in the movie? Dumb.
The music in this movie is interesting, in that it brings back the old Batman theme song from the early 90’s, but it doesn’t really bring back any themes for any of the other characters. You might get a tiny hint of Wonder Woman’s or Superman’s theme if you listen really closely, but that’s it. This is probably not surprising since the movie in Justice League was done by Danny Elfman, the guy who did the original Batman themes (and who I personally think is quite overrated as a composer).
It’s a shame, because Wonder Woman has one of the best theme scores of any character in movies, ever. So does Superman; both the Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavil versions of the character have great theme songs. Wouldn’t it have been great to have heard these themes as they were flying into action? It makes such a huge, positive difference in the moviegoing experience. But no, not in this movie.
Lastly, the movie was way too short. It needed at least another 30 minutes to breathe. I can’t believe I’m saying this, since Batman v Superman was way too long, but Justice League needed more time. Warner Brothers sent down a commandment that none of their movies will be longer than two hours. Not good. I guess I’ll have to wait for the extended version on DVD to truly enjoy what this movie was supposed to be.
Overall, Justice League is a big, simple, somewhat dumb, but very fun movie if you can shut off at least parts of your brain and just enjoy watching Batman and Superman punch monsters. Since I have that ability, I really liked it despite its numerous problems. It’s a shame they couldn’t have done a better job with such a long-term anticipated move, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself.