Justice League (2017)
When The Avengers defied the odds & exceeded all expectations by handsomely rewarding the massive risk that Marvel Studios took with their shared universe concept, its overall success had such a lasting influence on the film industry that it ended up redefining the way comic book films were adapted on screen. Every other film studio that held rights to comic book characters then went back to its drawing board to imitate Marvel’s formula in an attempt to replicate same level of success, and heralded the dawn of now prevalent cinematic universes.
All eyes then shifted on DC Comics, for they were considered the only worthy opponent to challenge & possibly defeat Marvel at their own game. The comic book giant entered the arena with Man of Steel in 2013, ultimately launching the long-awaited DC Extended Universe. But the film didn’t pave a strong enough foundation for future instalments, and DC Films’ impatience & desperation to catch up with Marvel Studios only turned things from bad to worse. Batman v Superman tried to rush the process and ended up a convoluted mess as a result.
Two mediocre films, one terrible eyesore & one fresh standalone feature later, DCEU at last made it to the crossover feature they had envisioned since the beginning, one that would either make or break the arduous journey they’d been on over the years. Unfortunately, what we have here is a laughably bad, almost cringeworthy example of comic book filmmaking. Justice League is a result of rushed production that has no backbone whatsoever, and absolutely squanders the little hope that was kindled by the previous entry. Everything that could’ve gone wrong goes wrong here.
The fifth instalment in the DC Extended Universe, Justice League follows Bruce Wayne who, inspired by Superman’s selfless act, teams up with Diana Prince to assemble a team of metahumans in order to protect humanity from a new threat. The resulting team of Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash & Cyborg together set out to fight against Steppenwolf & his legion of Parademons who are looking for three powerful, mysterious boxes which, if united, can wreck havoc on all life on the planet. Concluding that it may already be too late to prevent a catastrophe, they try to find a new alternative.
Directed by Zack Snyder (co-directed by Joss Whedon), Justice League has a simpler premise but it still comes jam-packed with shortcomings that affected its predecessors. The story is simple yet not refined or sturdy enough. Returning characters appear tired while new ones fail to make a lasting impression. Action is plenty but is illustrated in dull & disorderly fashion, is choking with excess CGI, and is so hollow from the inside that all the mayhem & destruction that unfolds on the screen still fails to stimulate the senses. For a film produced on a $300 million budget, the visual effects in the final print is way too cartoonish.
Coming to the performances, Ben Affleck looks like he didn’t even want to be a part of the unit. Gal Gadot is lacking the charm she emanated in her standalone film. Henry Cavill’s face is hilarious thanks to some awful CGI. Amy Adams has got nothing to add here. Jeremy Irons maintains his demeanour at least. Ezra Miller is slightly amusing as Barry Allen but it doesn’t make much difference in the end. There is nothing to like about Ray Fisher’s Victor Stone. Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry exhibits a bit of swag at first but it doesn’t last for long. And the villain is possibly the worst. Lifted right off a video game, Steppenwolf is a poor creation in every way or shape or form. Nothing about him is interesting.
On an overall scale, DC Films’ desperate attempt to emulate Marvel-like success hits a dead end with Justice League, for this crossover feature is a failure in all filmmaking aspects. An amalgamation of terrible direction, shoddy writing, thinly-sketched characters, flat performances, horrible VFX, lazy camerawork, inconsistent tone, dull pacing, lacklustre editing & stale soundtrack, this big-budget spectacle is as bland, lifeless & soulless as blockbusters can get, and is so atrocious that it actually makes DCEU’s first two mediocre-at-best efforts look good. DC Extended Universe was already on the verge of collapse before this feature but instead of rescuing the franchise from an early grave, Justice League only ends up hammering the final nail on its coffin. One of the worst films of its year, DC Films’ latest neither justifies its own existence nor validates of its universe.