Justice League (2017) (film review by Andy Whitaker).
This is an odd review for me as I have actually just parted with some of my hard-earned money to see ‘Justice League’ at the local cinema. Normally, I’m asked to review pre-release material, so I have the advantage of watching it several times and its available to rewind if I want to check a particular point. This review is based on my memory of a one-off viewing. Let’s get straight to the point, I enjoyed this film and enjoyed it quite a lot.
At some point, I’m going to review the official motion picture soundtrack but not here. Except to say track one ‘Everybody knows’ by Sigrid is an inspired choice for the opening sequence. Now that’s out of the way, I can report that as the film starts we are reminded that Superman is dead. He has shuffled off his mortal coil and popped his clogs. The world is missing him to the extent you could say it’s in mourning. There’s even a black remembrance flag draped across Tower Bridge.
London does get a small part in this film in addition to hosting the Superman remembrance flag and Wonder Woman( played by Gal Gadot) has to make a dramatic entrance to thwart a bunch of terrorists. I like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and we see a bit more of her character in this outing of DC Comics finest superheroes.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot as its quite a simple one. Basically, the Earth is threatened by a monstrous entity called Steppenwolf. He had his arse kicked several thousand years ago when the Amazons, Atlanteans and the heroic tribes of man joined together. It seems he bears a grudge and is now back for revenge. Batman (played by Ben Affleck) is the first to realise that something nasty is about to happen.
Aided by his trusty butler Alfred (played by Jeremy Irons), Batman begins to assemble a team to face whatever’s coming. As the movies tag line says: ‘You can’t save the world on your own.’ Wonder Woman is the first recruit with the Flash (played by Ezra Miller) following. Both Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fischer) taking a little more persuasion. While he does arrive late to the party, Superman (played by Henry Cavill) does have a very good part to play in this all action, feel-good film.
I’m not giving anything away by saying that all though he’s technically dead at the start of the film, Superman starts to feel better after receiving a tonic. If you are paying attention to the film’s promotional material, Superman features quite a bit. When he did show up in costume, a young lad a few rows in front of my raised both arms and shouted ‘YES!’ I think a lot of us shared that feeling but in a possibly more restrained way.
I’m a fan of the way Henry Cavil plays Superman. There’s something odd about the character making him slightly different from terrans. However, for me Ezra Miller as a young socially inept flash was simply superb. Of course, Ben Affleck as Batman and Jeromy Irons as Alfred gave solid performances as we have come to expect of them. I thought this was one of Affleck’s best performances of late. Ray Fischer could have done with a bit more screen time to develop his troubled Cyborg character a bit more. While Jason Momoa as Aquaman commands your attention whenever he’s on screen, his character doesn’t progress much beyond the athletic brawler out for a good fight.
In some respects, the attention to detail in the film is to be commended and, in others, it is poor. Let’s start with an example of the good. The Flash’s costume quickly loses the shiny newness and is quickly covered in scuffs and scrapes as you would expect after what he goes through. It’s the same with Batman’s, although to a lesser extent. An example of the bad: Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams) has red hair. Now I know people dye their hair but come on, Lois Lane is always portrayed with black hair.
One of the other things that annoyed me was the Steppenwolf character’s hands. The monstrous character is voiced by Ciarán Hinds but is a CGI construct. While in the most part it works well, there are a few scenes where I though his hands just look very odd. He’s a humanoid-shaped character but the hands don’t behave or look like a humans would in a couple of scenes, despite having four fingers and a thumb.
Anyway, ‘Justice League’ is a very enjoyable film well worth seeing at the cinema. From an extremely diverse and abrasive range of characters the Justice League melds into a team. This is done with good almost touching inter-character moments. The Flash and Cyborg’s conversation in the graveyard springs to mind. Most of the people I saw after the screening were grinning which must be a good sign. It’s a film which I am definitely going to be watching again. It’s about time the people over at Disney’s Marvel Studio had some serious competition. I hope there’s more to come.
Justice League (2017) – Directed by Zack Snyder
Screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon
Runtime (120 min)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of SF violence and action