With the DC Extended Universe struggling as much as it has since its inception, it was hard for me to have much faith in this Justice League movie. Up to this point, I haven’t been impressed with any of their films. With that being said, I always go into any film with a clear mind. It’s important to do that because every movie is a new opportunity to be entertained. And if I’m going to watch them, why not go in hoping for the best?
With his faith in humanity restored, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) becomes determined to build a team of superheroes to fight alongside him and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) against some of the world’s greatest threats. So far, he’s had his focus on a few metahumans (Ray Fisher, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller) specifically who look to have what it takes. If he can convince them to join him, they may be able to come together against Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), an antagonist who brings with him the strongest force the planet has seen since the death of Superman (Henry Cavill).
From even the earliest parts of Justice League, the soundtrack was the best thing the movie had to offer. While I’ve always loved the sounds of Hans Zimmer, bringing on Danny Elfman was a nice touch that was greatly appreciated. Him taking over and sometimes adding to what Zimmer had already done made this feel like the kind of adventures that many like to see when viewing movies about epic heroes attempting to save the world.
With the music we’re hearing presenting us with a more heroic sound, you’ll also notice a clear shift in tone from the previous DC movies. With the exception of Wonder Woman, those films have been very dark and gloomy. One of the biggest mistakes that Warner Bros. made was trying to turn Man of Steel into something that reminded everyone of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. For anyone paying attention, this was an obviously bad decision before even watching the movie since it went away from what Superman has always been about.
I guess because of who the director was and the tone that was already set, the studio stuck with this style, and paid for it dearly. However, since the reshoots for Suicide Squad, we’ve been seeing a slight shift that would make things at least a little more lighthearted overall. With Justice League however, we’re now entering a phase where the light is outshining the dark by a good distance. And while Batman (my second favorite superhero of all time) and maybe Cyborg don’t need this change, most of these other characters do.
This lighter tone allows for more personality from Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the current and future Justice League members. It also gives the characters more room to be funny and deliver clever lines more often. In certain instances, this is something that’s not only very important to them but also to the film itself. For that, I think plenty of people will be grateful for this change since people who are watching movies tend to want to be a part of a journey with characters they can enjoy in varying ways.
Even though a significant amount of fans will be happy with those positives additions, I will say that this also presents an issue in Justice League that I am unable to ignore. As I watched, I embraced the old theme from the Tim Burton’s innovative Batman movie along with the rest of the soundtrack. And while I also welcomed the new attitude that was here, I couldn’t get past the dark visual style that we still have to fix our eyes on. I understand why this hasn’t been changed since most of this was already shot, but it does throw the film off in terms of balance.
Judging by the fact that they appear to be listening to what the people want, I’m assuming that Warner Bros. is going to remedy this in future films. If they don’t, they will ultimately have flawed films that won’t be able to fit everything together as well as they should. If they do, I’m expecting better movies that include a completed tonal shift pretty soon. And since I don’t believe they’ve started shooting anything else yet, they could probably begin doing that with the very next picture.
Anyway, one feature that I didn’t expect to improve was the acting. Including myself, the casting choices have been criticized for years. While Ben Affleck proved me wrong as he ended up being one of the few bright spots in Batman V Superman, the rest of the acting was pretty much suspect up until now. From what I saw, you can look at Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller as examples of proper casting here. Since Fisher’s only experience came as a stage actor, I didn’t know what to expect from him as Cyborg. Nonetheless, I ended up warming up to him and Miller as the film went on.
As far as the others? I didn’t dislike Jason Mamoa here, but I’m still holding out to see more of him as Aquaman. This could work, but it depends on how they go about it. Gal Gadot still can’t act, so my opinion of her as Wonder Woman hasn’t changed in the slightest. As I’ve said about her since Batman V Superman, she’s able to do what she’s asked to do as far as the action is concerned, but she needs to develop her actual acting skills at least to the point where she can properly deliver lines and make facial expressions that actually match the emotions she’s supposed to be displaying.
Lastly, I have to speak about Henry Cavill as Superman. I have never thought much of him as an actor. In fact, I have essentially said that Gal Gadot was his female doppelganger before. Since my view of his acting has never been a positive one, I didn’t expect it to change with Justice League. Yet, I did come out of this pleasantly surprised as he was able to show some obvious improvements here. Part of that could be because they gave him the room to show more personality, but I believe it may be because he’s simply getting better as an actor.
As Justice League is wrapping up, I actually started to believe that he may actually become a good choice to portray Superman. This time around, he wasn’t the depressed, “emo” version of the “Man of Steel” that we’ve seen moping around in previous films. Instead, he looked to be becoming a more secure, upbeat and studious man who people might actually like. And this isn’t the same style of character played by Christopher Reeves either. He gives us a version the stands on its own, but if you want to compare him to anything, he’ll probably remind you more of George Reeves’ interpretation of the character from the 1950’s.
Much to my surprise, I ended up coming out of Justice League looking forward to what may be ahead for us in the future. This isn’t a perfect movie by any means, but Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon or whoever else may behind these improvements were good enough to at least turn it into a decent movie that continues to move all of this in the right direction. Let’s just hope they continue this trend and don’t find themselves in situations where they could literally destroy their own universe that they’re trying to create.
Director: Zack Snyder
Film Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Score - 6.5/106.5/10