Review – Justice League (2017)
Directed by: Zack Snyder (but really Joss Whedon)
Produced by: Charles Roven & Deborah Snyder
Written by: Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon and Chris Terrio
Release Date: November 17th 2017 (UK)
Last Friday, a movie dropped that most comic book fans have been hotly anticipating for the last few decades; Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Regardless of what you may think of the Snydercut, it is hard to deny that the fact that it was actually made and put out is a significant turn of events within the movie industry. A lot has already been said about the precedent that it sets for the sway that fan campaigns could have over movies going forward, but that is a whole other conversation for another time.
Instead, in this review for Justice League, I want to look at the theatrical cut of the film. Finished off by Joss Whedon after Zack Snyder had to abandon the project due to a personal family tragedy and put out into the world in 2017, the original cut of this film took somewhat of a beating upon release. I remember seeing it at the time and being unimpressed, but also not finding it offensively bad either. I re-watched it recently for this review to help discern the major differences between this cut and the Snydercut and it there is no denying that it is certainly a very different movie.
This movie had a lot going against it going in; to start with, there was the previously mentioned replacement of its director mid-production. There was a large amount of pressure put on the film by fans to be as good as Whedon’s other major superhero team up movie; The Avengers. It also acted as the follow up to the critical disappointment that was Dawn of Justice, with the studio scrambling to claw back some of the goodwill from fans and critics through weird marketing choices, in the hope that at the very least, Justice League could at least be a commercial success. Lastly, there is also the fact that comic book fans had been waiting for decades to see the Justice League appear on the big screen, so that alone brings a fair amount of pressure with it.
All of this combined meant that Justice League had a lot to live up to.
With all of this said, even after seeing the far superior Snydercut of the movie, Justice League is still just an okay movie. It is by no means a great piece of cinema, but its fine. It is certainly not the worst film in the DCEU; I’m not sure whether that says more about Justice League 2017 or the DCEU as a whole, but I’ll leave that for you to ponder.
The first half of the 2017 cut is extremely choppy and unfocused and feels more like a grab bag of scenes cut together to resemble a story rather than any sort of coherent story. Then the last half of the movie plays it incredibly safe and plays out exactly how you would predict. There are no surprises or twists and then the credits roll and half heartedly set up a potential sequel, which is fairly laughable knowing what we know now about the utter failure that was Warner Brothers attempting to force the DCEU into becoming a significant part of superhero pop-culture.
In terms of reviewing Justice League 2017, there isn’t really much to talk about; which is disappointing. Although Batman V Superman left a great deal to be desired as far as being a decent comic book movie, it at least gave all of us plenty to talk about. The cast are alright, I enjoyed seeing Affleck as Batman as I always do and I love his chemistry with Alfred in both cuts of this movie. Cavill puts in a decent Superman performance if you can get by that extremely dodgy CGI upper lip. Gal Gadot is great as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher does fine in his greatly reduced role as Cyborg and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is pretty one-dimensional, because the DCEU’s Aquaman is written to be remarkably one-dimensional in every film he appears in. Ezra Miller is annoying but clearly supposed to be the comic relief in the film. JK Simmons is wasted as Jim Gordon, but it’s nice to see Amy Adams in a reduced role here. I don’t hate Amy Adams, but I have never been a fan of her portrayal as Lois Lane and surprisingly, she actually serves a purpose in this film, as opposed to pondering about with a camera looking surprised.
The SFX varies greatly, with some really impressive visual effects and some that look like absolute garbage and could have been handled better. Something else that could have been handled far better was the resurrection of Superman. As a long time comic book fan and knowing the significance of this plot point in the comics, it feels extremely rushed and half-hearted by comparison in this film.
Overall, it’s not the worst movie in the world; it’s not even the worst movie in this universe, but really it should have been far better than it is. The Justice League movie should have been so much better than, ‘just okay,’
It’s crazy to think that this film released just a month after Thor: Ragnarok, and managed to be significantly worse than the third sequel to one of the least popular Avengers’ solo films. Justice League should have blown a Thor movie out of the water, both commercially and critically, yet here we are.
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