Rating: two and a half stars (2.5 out of 5)
Director: Zack Snyder (Man of Steel)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Irons.
The gang’s all here, but never quite get there
Congratulations. You have finally made it to Justice League, the last comic-book superhero blockbuster of 2017.
Like the last float in a parade already on its way out of town, this middling effort will have its work cut out trying to get any parties started.
This is not to suggest Justice League is a bad movie in any obvious way. It’s just that it isn’t a particularly good one, considering all the money, talent and hype the production has at its full disposal.
So there is no real pressing need to be at Justice League unless you’re hellbent on collecting the superhero set for the year.
After all, it’s not as if there will be a sudden shortage of costumed crime-fighting and city-wrecking smackdowns in 2018.
The Justice League itself? Mark it down as an all-star assembly of DC Comics’ biggest brand names, together on the big screen for the first time to snaffle some market share from Marvel’s Avengers.
Batman (Ben Affleck) is very much this dream team’s list manager here, and the first half of the movie is all about fully recruiting the likes of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
If you’re wondering why Superman (Henry Cavill) isn’t in the starting line-up, let’s just say he hasn’t quite recovered from his own funeral at the end of Batman v Superman.
The chemistry established between the founder members of the Justice League is easily the movie’s most winning aspect. As a bunch, they have the banter to make hanging out with them fun enough while it lasts.
However, when each Justice Leaguer gets some solo time on screen, the results are decidedly mixed.
There is plenty of Gadot’s Wonder Woman, which will make the whole world quite happy. Affleck sinks more energy into the Batman role than in past efforts, and Momoa wins the movie’s MVP award with an amusingly surly portrayal of Aquaman.
Cyborg (too serious) and The Flash (too silly) struggle to forge much of an identity throughout. A stand-alone movie featuring either character would be a real chore if this is all they’ve got to show for themselves.
As for the plot, well, the world needs saving from a fleet of magic-box-collecting aliens known as the Parademons. These mega-insect-like warriors answer to their evil leader Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), who could well be the least impacting main villain in a major movie in living memory.
With the stakes as low as this, it should come as no surprise that Justice League stays locked in a groove that neither overwhelms nor underwhelms.
Just another reminder that whatever the DC Comics movies do, the Marvel movies keep doing better.