Tom Awesome’s Review Score: 8.25
What makes a great superhero movie? Is it the super powered character? A witty teammate who always has a cheeky one-liner? Perhaps a larger-than-life villain or over-the-top fight sequences? Whatever the winning formula is, Justice League hits some of the highs in spite of a few stumbles along the way.
Justice League pairs Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg against Steppenwolf and his army of demented flying fear-smelling minions. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot reprise their roles as the Bat and the Amazon, while the rest of the crew is refreshingly introduced without a standalone movie to help set the stage.
The quintet is trying to keep Steppenwolf from gaining control of three artifacts that will combine to unleash complete devastation on Earth. The setup has a very Lord of the Rings Set Up to it. Steppenwolf is an enormous warrior who wields a devastating two-handed weapon (but it’s an AXE). He had previously united the artifacts to devastate the planet, but a final alliance of man and elves…..um, I mean Atlanteans and Amazons were able to overcome him, separate the artifact and hide it in three very (wink, wink) secure locations, until now. Now the fellowship, er, Justice League has to band together to keep the baddie from ascending to godhood.
Assembling the Team
Cyborg and The Flash were both new to the superhero racquet. The Flash jumped at the opportunity to make new super friends, Cyborg and the more experienced do-gooder Aquaman were both reluctant to join the squad.
I appreciate the ensemble cast without five movies leading up to it, but the team assembly was one of the least enjoyable aspects of the film. I bought into Cyborg joining the team to a degree, but I still can’t say why Aquaman joined up. Unless it was to follow Gal Gadot around, then I dig it.
Once the crew came together, the film really takes off. I thought the effects were cool for the fights, and everyone’s powers were applied in interesting ways. I was concerned about how super speed would be portrayed, and feared it would be a ripoff of Quicksilver’s iconic X-Men scenes. I was pleasantly surprised by its implementation.
Another thing that surprised me was the mortality of the Bat. Bruce Wayne is getting older, and as a mortal paired with these heroes, he seemed surprisingly fragile. Batman is no pushover, but he felt more vulnerable than any human in the Marvel Universe, I’m looking at you Black Widow and Hawkeye. I liked the perceived weakness, especially against the backdrop of his peers. After watching previous iterations of both Affleck and Christian Bale whoop up on street-level thugs, it was interesting to gauge his strength against a more worldly threat.
The Good: All the heroes were cast exceptionally well. Gadot didn’t crush it like she did in Wonder Woman, but this wasn’t her movie. I thought the powers were well done and most of The Flash’s humor hit the mark for me.
The Bad: There were elements that felt derivative. I felt there was clear inspiration from the Lord of the Rings, and the boss was just a big brute that would have fallen to the Incredible Hulk. I also thought that casting a character from Spider-Man movies into an iconic role in Gotham was bit strange. The pacing felt a little uneven, and at times it drug on for me.
The Verdict: Justice League was a fun film. Without much of a background with DC, I thought it was a fun adventure. For me, it lags behind some of the truly outstanding superhero films, especially Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but it’s a film I would enjoy seeing again.