‘Justice League’ Does Fans Justice With Fun, Rousing Movie
The superhero team-up features a redemptive story and light tone, but is marred by some foul language
Warner Bros. has done justice to fans of its DC Universe (DCU) with Justice League.
DCU’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers should appease fan boys and fan girls–for the most part–with a two-hour film that is fun, action-packed, entertaining and uplifting, although far from perfect.
The movie is more family friendly than its predecessor, Batman v. Superman:: Dawn of Justice–which featured dark and brooding elements, as well as jarring violence. However, media-wise parents should be aware that Justice League includes some foul language and terrifying villains, so they should exercise caution in allowing younger children to watch the film.
Justice League picks up right after 2016’s Batman v Superman. Earth is in shambles after Superman (Henry Cavill) sacrifices himself to defeat the monstrous Doomsday. Without giving any details, the Man of Steel does play a critical role in the plot of Justice League.
Inspired to action by the late alter ego of Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affeck) and Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) discover an otherworldly entity who is determine to turn the globe into an apocalyptic wasteland.
The demonic, alien supervillain Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) and his scary-looking, winged monsters are after three ancient, powerful boxes, which he wants to use to remake the world in Steppenwolf’s own image.
Batman and Wonder Woman set off to recruit newcomers, including seafaring Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the ultra-fast Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and part-man, part-machine Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher).
Bruce Wayne tells Barry Allen: “I’m putting together a team of people with special abilities. See, I believe enemies are coming…”
To which, Allen replies: “Stop right there. I’m in.”
A puzzled Wayne then responds: “You are? Just like that?”
Allen then deadpans: “Yeah, I… I need… friends.”
It’s that type of well-placed humor and banter that makes Justice League fun. On the down side, the film has pacing issues, poor character development and unpolished special effects, which seemed surprising since the movie had an estimated budget of $300 million. For example, Steppenwolf is completely CGI and a generic villain, who comes and goes in the action scenes.
On the plus side, Justice League has a strong moral worldview that extols good defeating demonic evil and light conquering darkness.
Bruce Wayne tells Wonder Woman: “Superman was a beacon to the world. He didn’t just save people, he made them see the best parts of themselves.”
The entire slate of the DCU is depending on the success of Justice League, which is projected to have a $95 million-plus domestic debut. That would be the lowest domestic opening of the five DC Extended Universe films to date, and the film previously had been tracking to clear $110 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Justice League director Zack Snyder directed Man of Steel four years ago, which was the first piece that led up to the supergroup event movie. Although Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad were savaged by reviewers, they made money in the box office. Gadot’s solo film Wonder Woman this past summer was a critical and financial hit, which bolstered the DCU.
Then this past May, Snyder and wife Deborah, a Justice League producer, stepped away from the film to deal with the suicide of Snyder’s 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, two months earlier. Joss Whedon, the director of two of Marvel’s Avengers projects, had already been hired to write new scenes for Justice League reshoots when he was hired to complete the post-production process.
So far Justice League has generated less than glowing reviews, including a dismal 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The aggregate website’s Critics Consensus notes that “Justice League leaps over a number of DC movies, but its single bound isn’t enough to shed the murky aesthetic, thin characters, and chaotic action that continue to dog the franchise.”
At one point, Superman says in Justice League: “I believe in Truth; and, I’m a big fan of Justice.”
Bottom line: A majority of critics may not be fans of Justice League, but at least the film tries to serve justice to moviegoers.
What To Watch For: Justice League is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence. The film has some gratuitous foul language, including some censored vulgarities that were f-words. God’s name is misused and Jesus’ name is also abused. Steppenwolf calls the three boxes of enormous power “the Unity” because they are “three in one”– a somewhat mocking references to the Trinity. Aquaman downs a a bottle of whiskey and then throws it into the sea. Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince have a drink together. During a battle scene, The Flash ends up on top of Wonder Woman, but quickly rises up before she knows he was even on her. The Amazonians have skimpier and more revealing outfits than they did in Wonder Woman. Justice League has plenty of strong, intense action violence involving flying creatures that have sharp-looking fangs, who attack people, villains and superheroes. The creatures are shown being impaled, decapitated, torn in two and even exploding. The film’s violence doesn’t show any blood.