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Review: Justice League – Not the world’s finest

Justice League

The Justice League has finally made it to the big screen! That’s “Justice League of America” for us patriotic old-timers; and while it’s definitely not the world’s finest film, nor as brave and bold as it could have been, this movie at least attempts to incorporate some of the fun heroics that were desperately missing from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.

DC and Warner Bros. appear to have learned from the success of the Wonder Woman movie that making a film people can actually feel good about is a much better plan, especially considering the crappy real world we’re currently living in, than putting out a depressing deconstruction of why we need superheroes in the first place.

Justice LeagueAnd speaking of the delightful Diana Prince, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) once again saves the DC film universe’s arse. She steals the show and is easily the highlight of this new film – despite one unfortunate scene with Batman (Ben Affleck) that has her completely out of character. Director Zack Snyder apparently cannot control himself from trying to make these characters into something they’re not.

This time around, the worst case of Snyder’s misguided management of the DC cadre of characters is his re-invention of Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Someone should have told Zack that if it doesn’t look like Aquaman and doesn’t talk like Aquaman and doesn’t act like Aquaman… it’s not Aquaman.

Momoa does a good enough job as the film’s Atlantean avenger, and he certainly looks like a superhero, but I don’t think the character he plays will be recognizable to most people as Aquaman. Again, why make these characters into something they are not? If you are going to do that, fine, but mold them into something original, don’t crap on the well-established characters that people love.

The plot of Justice League picks up with the aftermath of the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With Supes out of the picture the world is getting nastier and nuttier and there are hints of a pending alien invasion – and not the good kind.

Batman attempts to gather together other super-beings in order to combat what’s coming, which turns out to be the re-birth of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), a Jack Kirby “Fourth World” supervillain that most people will have a hard time differentiating from Ares in the Wonder Woman film.

The story is pretty run-of-the-mill at this point and the bad guy is just an excuse to bring the heroes together. The concept of creating an interesting antagonist seems to have been thrown out the window – or the Mother Box, as it were.

Justice LeagueThe Flash, as played by Ezra Miller, is another big highlight of this movie; and I did not start with high expectations of Miller in this role. For sure the character is different from the Flash that I know and love, but, in this case, the change-up works pretty darn well.

I think Affleck does a perfectly fine job as Batman/Bruce Wayne – I dare say he’s, maybe, my favorite actor to have played that part. Cyborg is a rather humdrum character (not actor Ray Fisher’s fault), but that’s pretty much how I feel about him in the comics also.

Keeping things spoiler-free, there is plenty to both love and hate about this movie – things I can’t get into right now – things that I’m sure will be hotly debated by fans for years to come. (I’m sure Nerdvana will re-visit the movie after the dust has settled.)

In the end, I was mostly entertained by this film, loved Wonder Woman and the Flash (and… uhhh… some other stuff), and I left the theater with a mostly hopeful feeling that the DC films have seen the light and are coming out of the darkness. Grade: 7/10

Photos Copyright © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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