Why did I even watch this? Masochism? Completism? I truly loathed Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (a movie as turgid as its name), and the execrable Suicide Squad, and had very low expectations for this Frankenstein’s monster of IP and dueling directorial visions. So with all that in play, I was surprised to find that Justice League … wasn’t so bad?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not good. But it’s not good in that “mediocre super-hero film” way – it’s Avengers 2-bad, not filmic abomination bad. The runtime keeps to a comparatively tidy two hours, the story is borderline adequate, and while I barely remember what happened in the film three days after watching it, I don’t imagine I’ll still be complaining about it in two years like with BvS.
The cast is a real mixed bag. Bat-fleck is an absolute disaster – he looks puffy and swollen and cramped in his cut-rate suit, and manages to make one of the best DC characters into a zero. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg is also a total dud – why the films can’t take a lesson from the Teen Titans cartoons and turn Victor Stone into an actual fun character, I don’t know (no, I kind of do, I suspect Zack Snyder’s head would literally fall off with fury if he ever watched Teen Titans Go).
Jason Momoa is similarly dull as Aquaman (again, they should be taking cues from the cartoons – Brave and the Bold may be the only time Aquaman was actually enjoyable). And the filmmakers go so far out of their way to avoid jokes about the whole “talks to fishes” that they leech out any excitement from his power set – he’s just Sea Conan. My wife kept complaining that she never got to see any crazy shark, whale or octopi action, and I’m 100% on the same page. But at least Gal Gadot was generally likable as Wonder Woman, and the total re-imagining of Barry Allen as an Aspergery dweeb gave Ezra Miller a chance to liven things up and crack some jokes as The Flash. Henry Cavill … was there, like parsley on your plate at a restaurant.
The action was the usual smashy-smash, and seeing The Flash performing dull, rehashed speed stunts on screen just made me wish I was watching the Quicksilver scenes from the recent X-Men films again instead. But it does the job and passes the time, and at least looked more competent than some of the CGI on display in the back half of Wonder Woman or in much of The Avengers.
Mostly, however, the film is a catalog of wasted opportunities. Ciaran Hinds, Amber Heard, JK Simmons, Joe Morton, and Billy Crudup might as well not have been in the film. Steppenwolf is a terrible, personality-less choice for a villain, even if he does set up the inevitable Darkseid appearance.
This is all surface-level for a reason. I really have nothing important to say about this film. I’m sick to death of all the Marvel vs. DC, Snyder vs. Whedon, final cut v. hypothetical cut, toxic fan culture bullsh-t surrounding this film – all of which seems rather pointless for a film that cost so much money and was so harmless and instantly forgettable. Oh well, in the year of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, they can’t all be winners.
2 out of 4 stars (Average).