‘Justice League’ Review: All In, But Not All Together

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The rapid mishmash of action and surprising comedy in Justice League left me wondering about this new tone of the DC Extended Universe. Certain parts of the film, such as the plot and specific characters, even left me slightly saddened by the direction of the film. However, Justice League is still a great film that should be seen if you need to satisfy your inner comic book nerd.

The overall plot takes place months after the last installment Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice where Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) collect other superheroes such as Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Barry Allen/the Flash (Ezra Miller) to defend Earth from a sudden alien invasion led by the villainously determined Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds).

What was significantly enjoyable about this film was how much it felt like a true live action version of a DC comic. The action sequences combined with the contrasting personalities and decisions of every character on the team made it feel as if I was reading through the pages of a Justice League comic. The team combinations connected amazingly making this team feel cohesive and effective. The use of CGI also complemented each character’s skillset nicely. In addition, composer Danny Elfman’s score made the film a true DC Comic film that many have been waiting for. Some sounds were especially noticeable to any fan of Elfman’s work on Batman: The Animated Series.

The definite standouts of the team were Ezra Miller’s portrayal of the scarlet speedster known as The Flash and Ray Fisher’s role as the brave, determined, and conflicted android called Cyborg. At first, Miller’s Barry Allen/the Flash feels a little similar to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming in the sense of humor and social awkwardness. However, as the film progresses, he reveals a more creatively eccentric and hesitant version of The Flash that has not been seen in Grant Gustin’s version of The Flash TV series. Miller’s perfectly-timed quips, funny action scenes, and unique running movements make him the significant comedic character to the team.

What was significantly enjoyable about this film was how much it felt like a true live action version of a DC comic.

Ray Fisher’s Cyborg shows viewers how badly we needed this character in an actual DC film. Fisher is able to reveal the Cyborg’s constant internal emotional conflict of being a man and also a machine. Cyborg is extremely vital to the film’s overall plot and Fisher perfectly executes the struggles of immense power that Cyborg possesses and the struggles of maintaining his humanity.

Other characters, such as Momoa’s Aquaman, Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and Affleck’s Batman were great lead contributions, just not fully fleshed out. Momoa’s role as Aquaman was a commendable take on the character that showcased the character’s challenge of living as both a human and an Atlantean while trying to figure which world he belongs to. However, Aquaman was not seen for a good amount of time in the film and plays more of a small ally in the overall plot. Fortunately, the time he does have on screen, he sells it showing off his Aquaman as an isolated, rockstar-ish type guy just trying to do what is right while simultaneously searching for his place in the world. Hopefully, we get to see more of a fully formed character with a great plot in his 2018 standalone film, Aquaman.

The two leaders of this league, Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Affleck’s Batman, were likable in this film, but it just felt weird seeing them have more of a comedic side when they originally portrayed such darker personalities in their BvS: Dawn of Justice. Gadot’s Wonder Woman was still heroic and inspiring as she was in her standalone film, but her personality seemed slightly different. For Affleck’s Batman, it was entertaining to see more of a lighter side in his character rather than his normal brooding self, but it just seemed that this film’s version of Batman was not fully thought out; it should have shown more of the mix of both humor and seriousness.

Three other parts of the film that were not fully fleshed out were the film’s villain, the overall plot, and the tone. Steppenwolf, the film’s main villain, appeared as a simple and stereotypical alien villain whose main objective was just to conquer Earth. It was obvious to see that Hinds’ portrayal of the character was done to his best effort, but it felt like there weren’t any reasons to relate to the character’s motives or feel that he was an overly dangerous threat to the team. He just appeared as a smaller secondary villain instead of a boss level villain.

The overall plot seemed rushed with every moment feeling sped through rather than gradually rising in tension. The climax of the plot did not feel largely dire or had much of an impact for the team. The plot felt like it suffered because of the film’s tone which possibly might be due to the mix of directors Zack Snyder’s and Joss Whedon’s directorial time on the film. The film did stray away from the universe’s commonly known darker tone, which seemed like a good decision, but in its entirety, the film’s lighter and comedic tone felt like it was trying to be a competitor for Marvel films. The tone was sometimes used well, but when it tried to mesh both lighter and dark elements together, it just did not seem to combine efficiently.

Justice League was a good film. The time it took with the action sequences, as well as certain characters, made it fun to watch, but what could have made it even better would be if they took the time to fully flesh out their main characters, overall plot, and the main tone. I am interested in the new tone that is being taken for DC’s Extended Universe, but I just hope it remains consistent. I give Justice League an overall grade of a B-.

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‘Justice League’ Review: All In But Not All Together: Photograph courtesy of Warner Bros.

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