2017 hasn't just been a pretty great year for films in general, but the comic-book genre especially has been firing on all cylinders and now, our final superhero film of 2017 has arrived: Justice League.

We are now four films into the DCEU, with Justice League marking our fifth entry into the canon. I really enjoy Man of Steel; I don't hate Batman v Superman either, it's not great but it's not awful. Suicide Squad was pretty bad, but Wonder Woman made up for it as the best DCEU film yet, certainly one of this year's best comic-book films - a big statement in a year stacked with such strong contenders. Going into Justice League, however, I remained skeptical; the film had a troubled production - Zack Snyder had to step away when he tragically lost his daughter, with Joss Whedon stepping in to complete the film; there were extensive reshoots as a result; Henry Cavill had a moustache which had to be digitally removed, due to commitments shooting Mission Impossible 6; the list goes on. However, thankfully, I can report that this film continues this year's winning streak for the genre. It's awesome.

The story picks up after the events of Batman v Superman; Superman (Henry Cavill)'s death haunts the world, paving the way for chaos to rise in his wake. In amidst all of this, a new threat looms large over Earth: Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), who arrives with a vengeance, hungry to destroy. Stepping up to the task of bringing him down, and restoring hope in the world, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) - The Batman - sets out uniting a team of heroes, the likes of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) - Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, respectively - to fight this battle by his side and save the world. Now, whilst I did enjoy this film a lot, it is deeply flawed. And this is largely the result of a story that is just so rushed and all over the place; with a runtime of only 2 hours (including credits!), Justice League is the shortest DCEU film yet - hell, it's the shortest a comic-book film has been in some time - and this is definitely a detriment to the proceedings here. The story is just so convoluted; it tries to cram in way too much, way too quickly and it makes for a quick-paced, if quite abrupt and jarring, viewing.
The character introductions are quite simplistic and short - Barry Allen's recruitment into the team is literally all it is in the trailers: one scene and he is set for the film. Given the film is juggling with so many characters here (some that are just getting their first proper cinematic introduction here too), so many sub-plots, a slew of backstories, an antagonistic presence to establish and develop and so much more, it's safe to say that it's a lot of material to get through in 2 hours. Warner Bros. put a mandate on the film, demanding it is 2 hours, but it makes for a very rushed, messy affair that meanders quite a lot and leaves a fair bit unanswered. The film also suffers the typical comic-book film trope of having a bad villain too. Steppenwolf is as bland an antagonist as they come, a CGI monster that seems to be destroying Earth... because he can? It's not explained very well. Ciaran Hinds turns in a fine voice performance in the role but the character isn't intimidating in the slightest; there is a lack of weight to him and there are no stakes for our characters as a result. His on-screen presence is passable, but he is forgettable as soon as he disappears.

However, at the same time, similarly to Marvel's team-up The Avengers (which, as epic as it was, bear in mind also had a weak villainous throughline and a pretty disposable premise), this film is about the heroes. It's about the coming together of The League. And it is wholly satisfying on that front. I've always been a big comic-bookie, growing up on both Marvel and DC comics but the Justice League, especially, have always had a place in my heart. These are characters I grew up with and seeing them come together is epic. The film may not be able to do its villain any justice, but the heroes are pitch-perfect: Batman makes for a great leader, Affleck once again superb in the role; Jason Momoa is great as Aquaman, who is not only likeable but just the embodiment of "badass"; Ray Fisher turns in a suprisingly emotion turn as Cyborg, a character that is fun to watch, if perhaps a little cast to the side at times; Barry Allen is easily the film's standout, with Ezra Miller clearly relishing in the role but it's Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman that is the sincere, pure heart of the film. Everything you love about these characters, from either prior DCEU films, or even the comics, shines through and the chemistry and dynamic between the group is palpable and charming and it makes them a fun team to watch; their interactions are riveting, and it's exciting to see them all fight together.

Visually, the film is fine. The CGI is alright, for the most part, but there are certainly more than a couple of times where it's glaringly obvious; the cinematography is slick and pulpy with an energetic and vibrant colour palette, but the film becomes very 'doomsday-esque' with its red in its finale. As far as the direction goes, for a film that had two directors, the tone is fairly consistent throughout - it's more lighthearted and in-line with Wonder Woman than BVS - but it never feels like either a flat-out Snyder film nor a Whedon one. It certainly has flavours of both, but it blends it quite seamlessly. The two directors thing is only really an issue in how jarring the film can be in its story, but this is also to do with a contained runtime and lack of freedom as mentioned earlier. The action is pretty great; there is a grandiosity and epicness about seeing these heroes together and fighting alongside one another. The film has a plethora of "hero moments" throughout and they are genuinely quite exciting to watch.
So yes, Justice League has its flaws. But the titular folk are superb. They have heart and personality and are immensely likeable. This is just a film that is epic and suave and it makes for enjoyable viewing that will leave you with a smile on your face and wanting to see more of the Justice League in the future. Oh, and a certain character makes an appearance. And, let's just say, it's pretty super... Also, the post-credits scenes are great. Danny Elfman's score, for the film, with the various character themes, also rocks. After Woman Woman, and now Justice League, the DCEU seems to be heading in the right direction and it has me very excited about the future of the DCEU. Count me ALL IN! Aquaman, you're next. I have hope. 

Justice League is a flawed, messy affair but it has enough heart and personality to make for a fun, epic team-up that is thoroughly enjoyable and also hints at an exciting future for the DCEU.

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

Related Posts