Justice League: Better than Batman v Superman, but still plenty of room for improvement
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Watchmen) and stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg.
Serving as the fifth film in the extended universe based on characters featured in DC Comics, Justice League is the first film to feature the aforementioned team coming together to face a common enemy (Steppenwolf) who threatens all of humanity.
In what has been a relatively rocky path for the DC universe (with Wonder Woman being the only resounding success thus far), Justice League is a bold attempt to inject some life into a series criticised for its depressing tone and disjointed plots, and in some instances, it succeeds.
A huge positive to draw from this movie is how the heroes share good chemistry and actually feel more fleshed out. Gal Gadot is again superb as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, building on her strong showing in her solo outing earlier this year, and while he doesn’t show up until much later in the movie, Henry Cavill finally gets some time to shine as Clark Kent/Superman, as his more upbeat, heroic portrayal of the character is a refreshing change from his dreary characterisation in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.
The new characters, Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), could have suffered due to lack of development (introducing three characters from scratch is never an easy task), but the three of them receive adequate introductions, and all three are granted a decent amount of time to develop.
However, Ben Affleck is a letdown as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Affleck’s performance was one of the few good things about Batman v Superman, but in Justice League he seems rather disinterested in his role save a few good scenes, rather undeserving of the Dark Knight.
The movie also suffers from a weak villain in Steppenwolf, who is your generic, underdeveloped “kill all humans” bad guy, as well as a rushed, underdeveloped plot which hampers the flow of the movie, an issue that also affected Batman v Superman.
While Justice League is a definite improvement on Dawn of Justice, it too feels like a collection of some effective scenes grouped together by an uneven plot. For a movie to really work, it needs a consistent plot to make you feel more invested in the characters.
I feel the DC universe would benefit from a fresh mind steering the ship, as Zack Snyder, after four years, still isn’t getting it quite right.
Bonus positive: Danny Elfman’s score helped bring the heroic feel back to the DC universe (he scored 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns)