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Review – Justice League

FILM REVIEWJUSTICE LEAGUEWith Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher.Written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon. Directed by Zack Snyder. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action. 121 minutes.

justice-league-posterAs someone who grew up reading DC comics, including what was then called the “Justice League of America,” it saddens this reviewer that the best one can say about the long-anticipated movie JUSTICE LEAGUE is that it’s just-okay. It has its moments, but it comes across as an “Avengers” wannabe with second-rank superheroes. It doesn’t help that the greatest hero of the DC universe – Superman (Henry Cavill) – was killed off in the earlier “Batman v. Superman.”

The villain is some character named Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), who arrives to unite three mysterious boxes that will allow him to destroy the Earth. Batman (Ben Affleck) knows he can’t do it alone so with the help of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), they enlist the help of their reluctant partners: Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Alas, the novelty of characters from different comic books working together in the same story has long since worn off.

The influence of the “Avengers” and related films is hard to miss, from the mythological villain and the arch dialogue (“Avengers” helmer Joss Whedon shares credit for the script) to the transformation of classic DC characters into watered-down Marvel ones. Neither the Flash nor Aquaman are true to their comic book roots, with Flash going from adult to teenage boy, perhaps so he can attract some of Spiderman’s fans. Aquaman has gone from sleek and blond to dark and huge, becoming this film’s underwater version of the Hulk.

There are even two “easter eggs” in the closing credits, the one playing off of a long-running debate among DC fans and the other ploddingly setting us up for a sequel, complete with characters who have not appeared elsewhere in the movie. Meanwhile, Affleck continues to find his way as Batman, with his choices sometimes scoring (as with his “explanation” of his superpower) to the mistaken idea that we should see his unshaven stubble beneath his mask.

The one who comes across best is Gal Gadot proving that her turn in “Wonder Woman” earlier this year was no fluke. In a film that’s striving to avoid the darkness of so many of the DC entries to the point where it’s lost its effectiveness, Gadot’s sunniness points the way for not only her career but where the series might go as well. Of course, if they really wanted to throw caution to the wind they’d do a Justice League/Avengers crossover. What would Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark have to say to each other? Would Flash and Spiderman become friends or would they each decide the other is a loser?

“Justice League” reminds us that warmed-up leftovers can be thoroughly satisfying if that’s what the choice is, but no one will ever confuse it with an original thoughtfully-prepared meal.•••

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 3 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

About Daniel M. Kimmel

Film critic, author, lecturer.

9 responses »

  1. I agree. Second rank superheroes though?

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Regretfully. This is not the Flash or Aquaman I grew up with. Cyborg is new to me. Where’s Green Lantern, Hawkman, Jonn Jonzz? The morose Batman can’t carry this film. That’s why Wonder Woman was the standout for me.

      • Not the flash you grew up with? So he wasn’t fast and overly sarcastic? You think lightning would automatically bestow the hero trait? Or maybe if your first attempt was against a guy who literally destroys worlds you might be a little apprehensive. There are different storylines with different foundings of the JL. The characters change all the time. Also, think about if the JL fought the Avengers. Take out hawkeye and widow (humans who would do nothing), Superman is too fast for the Hulk and the Hulk can’t fly, Cyborg takes Tony out of his suit or uses it against him with ease considering he’s a living computer with alien tech Tony wouldn’t understand, Batman outsmarts Captain America with ease, Nd the big fight comes between Thor and WW which would be a wash but considering they have the king of atlantis whos strength rivals anyone listed but also the fastest man alive, thor falls. Coming from a fan of BOTH Marvel and DC I just want to say the “second rate superheros” comment was wayyy off.

      • Daniel M. Kimmel

        No, it was my opinion on how “Justice League” handled the DC legacy. Flash should be an adult, not a whiny kid like Spiderman.

  2. Second rate superheros? What?! 😂. My man, you’re way off base. It’s a no contest, plus they already did a crossover in the books, ends with Superman having to come to the rescue, holding Cap’s shield and Thor’s hammer. You’re right, totally second rate.. God forbid someone didn’t make their version of a Marvel movie. You had your mind made up before the opening credits. Good thing you’re a professional and unbiased 😒..

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Trying reading my review before commenting. It’s your reaction that is way off base. My preference is for DC over Marvel, and the movie played like warmed over Marvel.

      • Sorry man, just locked on to the “second rate” comment and went off on a bit of a rant lol. My apologies. I’m just passionate about the topic, I don’t usually comment on these things. I just really enjoyed the movie

  3. Daniel M. Kimmel

    Not a problem. My review was not wholly negative. In fact I gave it a “fresh” on RT. I just grew up with JLA (it used to be Justice League of America) and I felt the movie was too many years late and quite a bit short. You’re certainly not alone and I don’t try to tell people who’ve seen a movie that they must agree with me. I’m hoping the next one will be better. Hey, it took several “Thor” films before they made one I really liked (the new one).

    • True story man. I do get excited about the progress they’re making. Zack Snyder finally allowing some levity is refreshing. I don’t think the movie was perfect, I think they were mandated to make the movie 2 hours or less which took away from some of the character development and I agree the the cgi was poorly used in some areas but I’m just frustrated with the gap between Rotten Tomatoes and the fan scores. I just get tired of defending DC. I think that a lot of people now, either subconsciously or consciously, consider Marvel as the blueprint for which all superhero movies should follow so when DC tries to do something different and that doesn’t fit the template people hold it against them. Again I do apologize for commenting without reading the full review. It’s not something I normally do.


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