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Dan's Review: "Justice League" brings the fun to DC Universe

Nov 16, 2017 12:30PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa in Justice League - © 2017 Warner Bros.

Justice League (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Joe Morton, Amber Heard, Billy Crudup, Julian Lewis Jones, Michael McElhatton, Marc McClure, Joe Manganiello and Jesse Eisenberg.

Written by Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder.

Directed by Zack Snyder.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

When it comes to superhero movie discussions, there’s nothing more volatile than the efforts to bring DC Comics characters to the screen. On the one side, you have Marvel fan-opportunists who smirk condescendingly at the DC enthusiasts, ready to rub their noses in so much Green Lantern/Suicide Squad/Batman vs. Superman garbage. Then, there are the jaded DC fans themselves, forever living in a state of cinematic disgust, never satisfied and always complaining about the “failures” of the DC Universe (in truth, Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy and other Batman films have been wildly successful). It’s that “Universe” part that gives them Marvel-envy. After the dismal “universe-building” attempts of Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, the future of any Justice League film looked dim. That was, until Wonder Woman came along earlier this year. DC cinematic gurus (perhaps by accident) finally saw the wisdom of creating strong, likeable characters before mashing them together into a team. The success or failure of this week’s premiere of Justice League rests on two things: the low expectations created by the Batman vs. Superman debacle – and the raging success of Wonder Woman. It’s either headed in the right direction, or slipping backwards.

To begin, let’s set the scene. It’s world where Superman is dead. Dead, dead as a doornail-dead. Yeah, thanks for that cheerful vision, Zack Snyder. An unlikely alliance between Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is all that stands between a coming alien invasion led by the horned god of destruction Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). Feeling outgunned, Batman and Wonder Woman go on a recruiting spree, trying to sign Arthur CurryAquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) to the team. Their first attempts to ward off Steppenwolf and his insect-like minions doesn’t go well, and the team has trouble bonding. The come up with an idea of using alien technology to…

…okay, I’ll stop here, because giving away any more would spoil everything. Suffice to say the team needs a little more help, and they eventually get it.

First things, first. Justice League is indeed better than Batman vs. Superman. For most, that might not be saying much, but it’s progress. Second, there is a team dynamic building effort going on here, and it’s bolstered by great chemistry between Gadot, Momoa and especially Miller, who brings a youthful exuberance to the ensemble. Gadot emerges as a strong team leader, picking up where she left off in her origin story.

 One thing missing from the Batman vs. Superman darkness was any semblance of playful humor. Adding Joss Whedon fixes that, as he peppers the script with a decent amount of snarky nerd-ism he’s known for. Third, the story structure in Justice League is kind of a mess, but that doesn’t kill all the fun, even with a predictable “good overcomes evil” theme. Again, it’s good to let go of the darkness once in a while, Zack Snyder.

So, it would seem that the DC Universe is headed in the right direction. It’s not there yet, but there is potential. Justice League may be a franchise worth watching after all. 

 

Justice League Trailer

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