‘Justice League’ proves imperfect, yet exhilarating

Review by Grant Dillard, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of vimeo.com

2017 has been a fantastic year for superhero movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe continued to impress with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” Even the DC Extended Universe managed to impress critics and audiences this year with the very successful “Wonder Woman.” Now “Justice League” has arrived for audiences to enjoy, and it makes for a very entertaining, if imperfect, superhero movie.

It’s been a few months since the death of Superman (Henry Cavill,) and the world definitely seems less brighter than usual as a result. Things eventually go from bad to worse when a powerful enemy known as Steppenwolf comes to Earth to wreak havoc on humanity with the aid of his army of monstrous creatures known as Parademons. Knowing that they can’t save the world by themselves, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) set out to find extraordinary people to help them fight Steppenwolf and save the world: those meta-humans being Barry Allen, The Flash (Ezra Miller,) Arthur Curry, the Aquaman (Jason Momoa,) and Victor Stone, the Cyborg (Ray Fisher.)

The film’s biggest strength is its characters, which are handled marvelously. Batman actually seems more heroic in this film than he did in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which had Batman murdering criminals left and right. Here, the caped crusader is portrayed more like how people would expect him to be. Wonder Woman is just as great as she was in “Batman v Superman:” being a fierce warrior on the battlefield yet still managing to be very firm and humble. There’s even a possible romance between the two heroes which seems very natural and believable, largely thanks to Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot having great chemistry together.

The returning heroes are good and all but the newcomers are very impressive, with The Flash being the highlight. This interpretation of Barry Allen is different from what audiences may remember from either the comics or the CW TV series, though some elements are still present. In this film, Barry hasn’t exactly fought any big supervillains as The Flash, so he’s definitely nervous about going against a godlike being and the Parademons. Barry’s character arc is a very well-done coming of age story that succeeds with the added benefit of Ezra Miller’s performance. Also, the way the film depicts The Flash’s speed powers is very creative and a sight to behold.  Aquaman has had a reputation of being one of the more laughable and ridiculous characters in the DC Universe, but he’s far from laughable in this movie. Jason Momoa is really fun to watch as the soon-to-be king of Atlantis, having several hilarious wisecracks and  action sequences. Lastly there’s Cyborg, who sadly is the weakest of the team. The film does do a good job at portraying Victor Stone as a tragic character who had high hopes for a football career, but who’s hopes were dashed after an accident which led to his robotic transformation. Despite that, Cyborg’s main purpose seems to be giving exposition and being used as a plot device during one of the film’s important scenes. He’s not a terrible character though and he does have his moments, but he unfortunately doesn’t stand out amongst the other heroes.

“Justice League” does have its share of problems, the biggest being the running time. The film clocks in at just two hours, when it should have at least been two and a half hours. Due to the shorter length, the film can feel rushed in some areas, especially the first act. Sometimes scenes can feel rather abrupt and end at odd times. The first act is still enjoyable and has some really good scenes, but it’s after the first fight between the heroes and Steppenwolf in a sewer system when the film really starts to focus up more and get better. Hopefully there will be an extended edition released on Blu-Ray which would fill in the gaps on some scenes and make the pacing feel more natural. Also at times the special effects can look a little fake, with the worst example being during a huge action scene between Steppenwolf and the Amazon armies of Themysciara. The whole sequence looks more like a cutscene from a video game, which will definitely take most viewers out of the moment. Cyborg also falls victim to mediocre CGI seeing how the only part of his body that isn’t computer generated is most of his face, but there are at least more scenes in which he looks better.

Though it has its faults, the good certainly outweighs the bad as “Justice League” is a fun and enjoyable superhero film that’s sure to please hardcore fans who have waited to see their favorite heroes team up on the big screen for the first time. It may not be as well-made as “Wonder Woman,” but the film is a step in the right direction for the DC Extended Universe. After watching this film, as well as the two after-credits scenes, fans should be beyond excited for any future films DC has to offer.