It’s no secret that DC has been severely lagging behind Marvel in the cinematic universe department. DC’s films have gathered mostly mixed reviews not quite hitting a universally high critical consensus until this year’s “Wonder Woman.”
Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” is the culmination of four years’ worth of universe building. While mostly harmless, the film never reaches the stellar heights of Marvel’s “The Avengers.”
There’s very little chemistry between the characters, which is unfortunate, given the film hinges on a strong team dynamic for success. In fact, it was only Gal Godot that had an outstanding performance as Wonder Woman, mixing a genuine maternal charm with awesome ass-kicking action.
Jason Momoa surprised me, amping up the oft-mocked character of Aquaman with a rock ‘n’ roll vigor that was refreshing to watch. However, as a newcomer to DC’s films, his character felt underdeveloped and lacked the build-up some of the other characters have already received.
Though I was a huge fan of Ben Affleck’s Batman in “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” his role in “Justice League” felt completely phoned in. The raw drive that fueled his last performance has cooled down to a glazy-eyed hollowness that was incredibly dull and tedious to watch. It was almost as if Affleck didn’t want to be there.
The two biggest offenders, however, were Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher as Flash and Cyborg, respectively. Miller’s forced quirkiness was grating to watch, never getting even the smallest of chuckles out of me. I can’t help but think he was miscast for the role. Fisher, meanwhile, plays Cyborg with as much bravado as a robotic plank of wood. That’s not to mention the absolutely laughable CGI comprising over ninety percent of the character at all times.
For being an epic team-up with the very world at stake, “Justice League” is largely forgettable. Apart from a phenomenal keep-away sequence involving the Amazons and a brief civil skirmish between the film’s heroes the action felt uninspired. Thankfully the slow-motion prevalent within past DC films is used sparingly, making the fight sequences at least watchable, if a bit bland.
Many moments never felt earned from within “Justice League” or the other films narratively preceding it, especially the pivotal return of several major characters. One of these in particular gave a rigid performance so contradictory to the character’s values that it was hard to take in earnest. The plot is even less inspired with a paint-by-numbers final act revolving around a doomsday machine that is so tired at this point in superhero films that I never felt true stakes were at hand.
There are also some questionable narrative composition choices that cut up the action with lengthy segments of exposition and cheap fan service. Extraneous inserts of civilians scattered throughout the film only worsened an already trudging narrative pace.
“Justice League” shoots low and earns little. Apart from a couple of standout characters and moments, “Justice League” is a very mediocre film. The film is completely fine, but it lacks the originality and inspiration that could have made it unique, perhaps even great.
Special thanks to ASUNM for providing press clearance for an early screening of the film
Hector Valverede is a culture reporter with the Daily Lobo. He primarily writes movie reviews. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hpvalverde.