Review: Rough Around the Edges ‘Justice League’ is a Step in the Right Direction for DC Movies

More bright spots and comedy makes for an entertaining superhero team up.

RATING: ★★ 1/2 (out of four stars)

The DCEU has gotten off to a rocky start. Because of this, I have legitimately been nervous for Justice League all year. Wonder Woman, which came out earlier this year, gave me a sliver of hope because of how awesome it was. However, Justice League is a Zack Snyder-directed movie, and he has endured mass amounts of criticism for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. After seeing Justice League I can officially say that it is entertaining as hell, surprisingly funny, and slightly uneven. Of course, it’s not perfect, but they get a lot right in this DC team up. As a viewer, it is clear that Joss Whedon, who took over to help with post production and extensive reshoots after Snyder stepped down for personal reasons, helped with the movie’s overall tone. Whedon taking over helps the movie a substantial amount and I’m glad he didn’t make it feel like one of his Avengers movies. Sure, Justice League is Zack Snyder’s movie, but Whedon made it much better.

One of the best things about Justice League is the chemistry between the team. At this point in the DCEU, we’re very familiar with Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. They’re both awesome in Justice League, having some stylish fight scenes and humorous dialogue. They both know that enemies are coming so they work on getting a team together. Newcomers Barry Allen/The Flash, Arthur Curry/Aquaman, and Victor Stone/Cyborg each add unique elements to the team and to the DCEU as a whole. The Flash steals the show as the movie’s comic relief; one scene in Justice League that involves The Flash may be my favorite scene in any DC movie yet. He really hasn’t used his powers in battle, so his innocence is downright hysterical. I went into Justice League thinking Cyborg would be the weak link of the team and his CGI would look awful like it did in the early trailers, but his character surprised me. I walked out of the movie not only impressed by his character but also shocked at how much screen time he got. The CGI with him was cleaned up nicely and only looked below average in a few scenes. Aquaman was the most frustrating member of the team, mainly because I wanted to see more of him. He doesn’t get as much screen time as the others, and when he is on-screen there isn’t much dialogue and depth. Sure, he kicks some ass in the fight scenes, but I wanted more depth from his character like I got with the other newcomers (good news though, as we’ll see him in the standalone Aquaman movie next December). Overall, the chemistry with the team had to work well or this movie would have been a disaster. I was very pleased with how well they exchanged dialogue and fought together.

The visual effects and choreography of the fight scenes were extremely entertaining and impressive, with the exception of a handful of visual effects issues. For the most part the CGI looked good and the team equally fought enemies, both by themselves and together. The action scenes are among the best in a DCEU movie yet, with the final battle being one of the coolest battles DC has had so far. Each member had their part to play and the execution was on point. I loved seeing a somewhat vulnerable Batman on the back-end of his crime-fighting life save Wonder Woman from a distance with the grapple gun because that is such a Batman thing to do.

With having two directors and millions spent on numerous reshoots, there are some expected issues in Justice League. The biggest issues are the villain and the overall story. Steppenwolf is the “ender of worlds” and he basically is searching for these cubes that hold power that can destroy earth. Sounds like most villains in superhero movies, right? Steppenwolf was very one dimensional and when he wasn’t on-screen, I almost forgot he was in the movie. His dialogue was lazy and he doesn’t look imposing on-screen. The story is very one dimensional as well—basically, the Justice League teaming up to fight an enemy who wants to destroy the world. While this might be entertaining, it lacks depth and any kind of originality.

As a whole, Justice League is an entertaining entry in the DCEU and a big step in the right direction when it comes to tone and character depth. If you look past the very transparent story and just enjoy seeing some of the coolest superheroes ever kick ass, then you’ll have a great time. Justice League isn’t as good as Wonder Woman, but it is better than Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman. Also, and this is very important; STAY THROUGH THE CREDITS, I REPEAT STAY THROUGH THE VERY END OF THE CREDITS.