DC’s Justice League is the follow up to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and is the equivalent of what Avengers is for Marvel. There are few naïve souls among men who are remotely aware of comics and movies who will not know about the Justice League. They have been around for ages and have virtually made their presence felt in every medium that they have ventured into and now finally they are making their way into films.
Justice League unfolds after the death of Superman in Batman V Superman. The earth is defenseless as it doesn’t have the Kryptonian to protect it anymore and as Lex Luther rightly pointed out in one of the scenes in Batman V Superman, the demons lay waste to earth led by Steppenwolf. What they are after are three cubes or boxes that hold the power to destroy and create worlds. Steppenwolf wants to assimilate them and using the power that will be unleashed, he wants to end his banishment and rule the known worlds. One of those cubes is present on earth and earth also is the epicenter of the hell that Steppenwolf wishes to unleash. However, in his path stands the Justice League.
Let’s start off with the positives first. The film is laced with quirky and heroic characters who are not only larger than life but also endearing. Ben Affleck as Batman aka Bruce Wayne anchors the whole group using his charm and physicality wherever necessary. The introduction and back stories of the characters are kept very very brief which doesn’t really affect the viewer as most of the characters have been referenced before in Batman V Superman. Also, the trailer had warmed-us-up to the extent of revealing things that it shouldn’t have. Once the team is formed, the characters have a ball with the action and humor that ensues. There are some really heroic moments that will make one and all go up in arms.
Gal Gadot as Wonder-Woman is fast becoming one of my favorite superhero rendering of all times. There is such an effortless charm and vitality in her act that it’s hard not to fall for her act. Also, the fact, that she is not hideous helps the cause (if you understand what I mean). Ezra Miller as Barry Allen aka Flash is quirky and fun. He doesn’t overstay his welcome and is absolutely hilarious when he has to be. Ray Fisher as Cyborg is the only straight-faced character and that makes him a tad bit boring. Jason Momoa as Aquaman does his bit but isn’t as noticeable as he would have liked to be.
Having said all that, the film still has some major issues. Justice League is two hours long and that’s including the credits. There is just so much that you can cramp in such a limited time and I am saying this because we have six heroes to deal with here. Out of those six, we haven’t seen atleast three never before. Thus from the screenplay point of view, the film feels very choppy and episodic in the first half. It also ensures that the story is kept straight forward with absolutely nothing novel or virtually no twists and turns. There is also a total absence of any drama. The heroes are so much in control of everything that you are never for once afraid of their safety and well-being. Hence there is absolutely no tension in the tale. For a film written by Chris Terrio (Argo) and Joss Whedon (The Cabin In The Woods, The Avengers), that’s a pity.
The heroes need a formidable enemy and more than that, a dramatic face/ character for there to be any semblance of a dramatic show-down or for that matter, the transfixing hero-villain give and take. Steppenwolf is a CGI character who is at best pedestrian. The CGI on him is so bad that I was reminded of The Rock’s character in the “The Mummy Returns” every time they do a close-up of him. Millions and billions of dollars are spent on films of this magnitude. I fail to understand how they ended up with such poor CGI for such an important character. The same can be said about Superman’s face that looks weird in two sequences wherein his mustache was digitally removed. One can easily tell. Even a few long takes showing him glide through the air felt somewhat Neo-ish from The Matrix Reloaded (remember the fight between Neo & hundreds of Smiths).
The film boasts of a lot of action but none of it is anything that we haven’t seen before. They are standard city-leveling destructions that we have come to expect in films of this type. However, one brief action sequence on Amazon is beautifully done. I wish there was more of it. There are bits and pieces of brilliance here and there but they are too few and too far apart. The background score from the trailer is missing and it was missed sorely especially in the action sequences. The film had many sequences from the trailer missing and that is in addition to the choppy feel that it gives you all throughout. I am certain that there will be a director’s cut/ultimate cut/extended cut out soon. But how much it will improve upon this film is a matter of doubt.
Overall, Justice League shows promise but it falls way short of its mark. It constantly gives you a feeling of being a film that was hurried. Even though it has a uniform tone and feel, it feels as if large chunks of it was either accidentally left out or as though the director considered the audiences to be smart enough to recreate portions of the film in their minds. Gal Gadot is brilliant and so is Ben Affleck but their spirited acts cannot save a flawed and “been there-seen it before” film.
Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)