It’s hard to be excited for “Justice League.” The DC Extended Universe, often compared to the juggernaut Marvel Cinematic Universe, has had quite a few stumbles. “Man of Steel,” which kickstarted the DCEU in 2013, received a mixed reception, while “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” — both released last year — took thrashings from critics, with Rotten Tomatoes scores below 30 percent.
Despite the recent success of “Wonder Woman,” which earned critical acclaim and a fresh RT score of 92 percent, it’s easy to be wary going into what is easily one of the most anticipated films of the decade.
Plus, goings-on behind the scenes doesn’t add much for comfort. Zack Snyder, who directed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” originally returned to direct this one, but stepped down following a family tragedy. Then Joss Whedon, known for directing the first two “Avengers” films, stepped in to finish and filmed massive reshoots. Now that “Justice League” is finally unleashed to the masses, what is the end product?
Taking place shortly after the events of “Batman v Superman” the film follows Bruce Wayne, played by Ben Affleck, as he fears Earth will come under attack by an evil alien force. He and Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot, create a superhero team as the invasion starts.
The plot is fairly straightforward, and that’s not really a bad thing. The film isn’t trying to be the second coming of superhero films. “Justice league” aims for a fun time at the movies, and it succeeds.
Unlike most of the aforementioned DC films, “Justice League” has heart. Uniting for the greater good is the theme of the movie. This isn’t the first time this theme has been used, but here it feels endearing and oddly heartwarming.
Humor is a welcome addition in “Justice League,” — most of it from the Flash, played by Joss Whedon. His naivety and excitement at becoming a superhero is charming to watch, and Miller plays it flawlessly. The chemistry between him and Affleck is easily the best as the two share an uneasy father-son relationship.
Aesthetically the film is gorgeous. Colors are vivid with cinematography straight out of comic book panels. Mixed with Joss Whedon’s score — who reuses his theme from the 1989 film “Batman” directed by Tim Burton to great effect — “Justice League” outshines a lot of MCU films in the visual and audio department.
There are some pacing issues. With a huge cast and only two hours of runtime, the film can feel a bit rushed. Characters like Aquaman, played by Jason Mamoa, get pushed to the background and some early plot points feel glossed over. Once the movie reaches its second act most of these problems are relieved.
The main villain is also largely forgettable. Steppenwolf, voiced by Ciarán Hinds, is just a big computer generated monster hell bent on taking over the world. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. He primarily exists just to give the league something to fight against. He’s serviceable, but nobody will leave the theater saying he was the best part of the film.
Still, watching the heroes come together and throw down against enemies leads to some thrilling action sequences. One memorable scene features the team rescuing hostages from an underground lair. It’s well-choreographed, funny and feels like a Saturday morning cartoon in the best way possible.
“Justice League” isn’t perfect, but it’s a welcome change of pace for DC. It’s a blast to watch and leaves you waiting to see what’s next.