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Review: “Justice League”

“Justice League,” the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe movies, opened this weekend, with a reported box office total of $96 million. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the movie’s release, due to the review embargo lifting just a few days before opening weekend and the announcement that aggregate ratings site Rotten Tomatoes was waiting more than a full day after the review embargo was lifted to post a score.

The film has a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of the time of this writing, which is far too low to be considered ‘fresh,’ but still higher than previous DCEU movies “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” That middle ground is exactly where “Justice League” belongs: it is neither among the best or the worst of DCEU movies, the majority of which are helmed by Zack Snyder. After Snyder had to leave this latest movie in the franchise, they had some help from Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed “The Avengers.” Whedon’s snarky sense of humor does inject a little more lightness into “Justice League” than can be found in some of the other DCEU movies, but attempting to turn the heroes of the Justice League into the heroes of the Avengers isn’t necessarily the right answer. One positive to come out of WB and the DCEU listening to reviews and fans is the length of “Justice League,” which runs only two hours.

“Justice League” | Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

One great thing about this film is its cast, for the most part. Gal Gadot still plays Wonder Woman with all her fierceness and compassion. Ezra Miller is introduced as The Flash, who is taken aback by the world of superheroes and villains and is perfect in the role. Ray Fisher plays Cyborg as someone who is believably struggling with his new identity and powers, even if we don’t get a lot of his backstory. Jason Momoa is a mostly grouchy Aquaman, and while his character is underdeveloped, he still gets a few good moments. Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne doesn’t feel like he has much to do in the movie, especially compared to “Batman v Superman.” Amy Adams continues to be underused as Lois Lane, doing double-duty as a grieving girlfriend for half of the movie then switching to the girlfriend who is joyful that her loved one is back against all odds.

It’s not truly a spoiler that Superman gets brought back from the dead in “Justice League,” but it is part of what weakens the movie. Bringing him into the fold almost makes the need for a whole team of superheroes obsolete – not to mention that they had to CGI Henry Cavill’s mustache away and that leads to some uncanny valley looks.

One of the worst overall parts of the film – and this is very important – is the villain. Steppenwolf is a CGI nightmare who appears to be a smaller version of “Wonder Woman”‘s villain, Ares. He also has the most boring possible motivation: he wants to take over/destroy the world. We don’t know for what purpose and we barely get a backstory on him, so the only real reason we want to see him destroyed is so that we can see the heroes prevail.

All in all, “Justice League” will be a fun way to spend two hours for anyone who hasn’t had many issues with the previous DCEU movies. If you don’t love the previous movies but are holding out hope for this franchise, don’t go into the film expecting another “Wonder Woman;” it’s far safer to expect something along the lines of “Batman v Superman” and be somewhat pleasantly surprised. Oh, and don’t forget to stay for the mid-credits and post-credits scenes.

“Justice League” is now playing in theaters! 

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