Josh and Violet share their spoiler-free male vs. female perspective reviews of Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, and starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher.
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Josh’s Movie Review of Justice League:
Justice League has finally hit theaters after what seems like years of drama, setbacks, and changes have marred the film since it began filming, which was back almost immediately after Batman V. Superman came out. When Batman V. Superman did less than expected at the box office, seemingly due to the negative reviews that had came out when the movie released, rumblings of a shake up at DC/WB came up frequently. Then there was the tragedy that hit Zack Snyder, and he stepped away from the film. Joss Whedon then came aboard to try to salvage the film.
After that all that drama for the movie, how did Justice League turn out in the end? I think it is safe for me to say, “not bad”. I know that is not a resounding endorsement for the film, and unfortunately the movie didn’t really earn one.
Justice League’s story revolves around Steppenwolf, the villain, who is trying to retrieve Motherboxes—items first introduced in Batman V. Superman, which we learn created Victor Stone (AKA Cyborg). Two more are learned about in Justice League, but I won’t spoil where those come from.
Meanwhile, Batman, as seen in the film’s trailers, is trying to get the super team going throughout the first half of the film. He begins recruiting the Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, searching them out and trying to convince them an evil force is coming. Of course, Superman can’t really be recruited though—he’s buried 6 feet in the ground, due to his death in Batman V. Superman.
On paper, like most of the DCEU movies before, the story sounds pretty good. A big bad is trying to accrue unimaginable power to destroy the Earth. The good guys, meanwhile, work to team up, and take the big bad down. In fact, this basic plot premise is essentially The Avengers plot. Unfortunately, the execution of said plot is not quite there. That is not to say I hate the movie. In fact thought the movie was “pretty good”. To try to remain positive, I will go over what I liked about the film first.
Justice League – The Good
Again, the idea of bringing these heroes together is great. It’s not anything really innovative, but every comic book/movie fan has been waiting for this moment for the DCEU. It finally came! That excitement factor is the bonus factor for the film, meaning all Warner Bros. had to do was make a “good film”, and Justice League would have been a roaring success.
For the most part, the Justice League interacts well within itself. The Flash works well as the “newbie” who is excited about being a part of something bigger, but also nervous because he doesn’t really know what to do. He serves as the lens for the audience to see the team develop. He also provides much of the humor for the film. Wonder Woman has some good moments as well, with one particularly funny one involving her Lasso of Truth. The team as a whole seems to interact fairly well.
I actually enjoyed Cyborg’s storyline, of having this “language” in his head he is not sure what is, and how it will affect his new body.
Justice League – The Bad
Unfortunately, there is a lot that can be nit-picked in Justice League. There are story elements that I don’t want to spoil, but what can be said is the story does not feel very cohesive. The scenes feel too short at times, and Steppenwolf’s motives don’t make a lot of sense.
Another very big distraction for the film was the CGI. Steppenwolf looked more like a video game animation than a character from a movie. He seemed dead in the eyes, and looked very “plastic”. It was very distracting. Then there is “mustache-gate” as it is referred to online. It is no well-kept secret that Superman is in the film. It is also no secret that there were many reshoots for the film, which Joss Whedon handled. Well, those reshoots were done while Henry Cavill was filming the next Mission Impossible film. In that film, his character has a mustache, so DC had to CGI out the mustache. Let’s just say that didn’t work as well as it could have.
Justice League – The Verdict
Unfortunately for the DECU, Justice League came out in a time where Superhero movies are coming out 3 or 4 times a year. It’s no longer a new genre that can “get by” with a mediocre film, and it still be praised. If Justice League came out in a world where The Avengers didn’t exist, perhaps it could be better off, but unfortunately, Justice League earns a 6.5 out of 10 from me. There are flashes of awesomeness in the film, but I think that it mostly comes from the characters themselves, and not necessarily the creative team behind the film.
Violet’s Movie Review of Justice League:
Justice League. The most anticipated superhero movie since The Avengers. Or at least, it would have been, if not for the lackluster performance of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Although Batman v. Superman made a good amount of money, the film was negatively received by critics, as well as audiences. Then came Wonder Woman, which had an overwhelmingly positive reception by both critics and fans alike. I know I enjoyed Wonder Woman a lot, and felt like it breathed hope into what was to come in the DCEU (DC Extended Universe, for those unfamiliar with the term).
But one big difference between Batman v. Superman and Wonder Woman was the director. While Batman v. Superman was directed by Zack Snyder, Wonder Woman was directed by Patty Jenkins. And Justice League would be directed by the same person who directed the poorly received Batman v. Superman, Zack Snyder. So, on the one hand, while Wonder Woman gave hope to the future of the DCEU, on the other hand, that hope had to be curtailed a bit due to its director — the same director of Batman v. Superman‘s predecessor, Man of Steel, which also didn’t have a spectacular critical or audience reception (though not nearly as poor as Batman v. Superman).
Enter Joss Whedon, who came on to do some reshoots and finish the film after Zack Snyder’s sudden departure due to a family tragedy. Being a big fan of Whedon’s work (Firefly, Buffy, etc.), I looked at this as a positive thing, but also with trepidation, because how could the visions of two different directors be brought together in a coherent fashion?
In any case, this is showbiz, and as they say, the show must go on. And go on it did, with Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot returning to their roles as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, along with introducing us to a few new characters: Ezra Miller as The Flash/Barry Allen, Ray Fisher as Cyborg/Victor Stone, and Jason Momoa as Aquaman/Arthur Curry.
Justice League picks up after the events in Batman v. Superman, at the end of which (spoiler alert) Superman died. Because of Superman’s death, the world has taken a turn for the worse. If that wasn’t bad enough, a super villain soon emerges who threatens the fate of the planet. Bruce Wayne recruits Diana Prince to help him recruit a few more superheroes to help defend the Earth — The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. The five of them “come together” (just as the theme song says) to form the Justice League and use their combined special powers to fight off the evil villain, Steppenwolf.
Even though we saw the film at the first showing on opening night (6:00pm on Thursday, November 16), going in, I was already aware of the negative critics’ reception. My expectations weren’t that high to begin with, but hearing about these reviews made sure to keep my expectations low. And maybe it’s better to go into movies with low expectations, because then at least the film has a better chance of living up to those expectations. I know it worked in this case, because overall, I enjoyed Justice League.
It was fun getting to meet these new characters and seeing them come together to form a team. It was fun seeing the team members interact with each other. I liked the humorous bits that were injected into the movie, thanks to Joss Whedon, which made Justice League a more enjoyable experience than Batman v. Superman. Although I was aware of the existence of two different directors and the fact that there were reshoots, I think that if someone were unaware of it, then they probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Kind of like how there was an issue with one of the characters having CGI alterations done to their face because of reshoots, but because I hadn’t been aware of that beforehand, I didn’t look for it, so I didn’t notice.
One CGI aspect that I did take issue with was the villain. He was so distractingly CGI’d that it took me out of the movie a little bit every time I looked at him. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have used practical effects for this character instead of CGI so that he would feel more realistic. Then of course, the ending kind of devolved into a CGI mess that made it difficult to see what was going on.
I also had issues with some of the story aspects. Without getting specific, or giving away any spoilers, the powers of the various superheroes and other fighters seemed inconsistent when compared to the villain’s powers. There were also some very important things in the film that seemed to be treated carelessly, or not as important as they should have been, which didn’t make sense.
Lastly, I didn’t like the sexualization of Diana Prince. Specifically, the plunging necklines of pretty much every outfit that she wore. I thought it was unnecessary for her shirts to all go down THAT far. One could argue that the same was done for Aquaman, since he’s shirtless in many scenes. However, that was more for costume purposes, to reflect the character Aquaman’s appearance, whereas I’m taking issue with the portrayal of Diana Prince when she’s not Wonder Woman. Not to mention that I felt like there were a few too many gratuitous butt shots that lingered a bit too long on her.
However, I was able to overlook many of the film’s shortcomings and just have a good time watching it. It was not as horribly bad as I had been led to believe it would be prior to seeing the film. Justice League is a fun action movie that will make you laugh. Just don’t think too hard about it, and you’ll enjoy it too.
My rating: 7/10