Justice League: Joyous highs and depressing lows in this mixed bag
DC's answer to Marvel's The Avengers may not get the general audiences cheering, but will be a treat for those following the series
In a fan-favorite scene from the teaser, Barry Allen (The Flash, played by a dashing Ezra Miller), asks Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck returning as Batman) what the caped crusader's actual superpower is. Bruce dryly responds, "I'm rich." You could well say the same about the production house for having made this film. It’s a film with a $300 million budget, but you don’t really see this richness translate onto the screen. But that's the least of the film’s worries, with highs and lows so disproportionate, that I suspect if charted on paper, would end up looking somewhat like a cardiogram.
"I'm putting together a team of people with special abilities. See, I believe enemies are coming," says Bruce to Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). Who is this enemy he speaks of? The comic lovers (or those with deep pockets, who were able to afford the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) would know that this refers to the alien military officer from Apokolips, Steppenwolf. You may perhaps have noted how Lex Luthor in the last Batman film's final moments says, 'He is hungry, has found us and is coming' as the scene fades to an upside down image of angels vs demons, which, of course, signifies that demons don't come from the ground anymore. Steppenwolf comes to town with his gang of Parademons to capture the three all-powerful Mother Boxes, which can be used to -- you guessed it -- destroy the world. They are conveniently placed in different corners of the globe which gives enough reasons for Batsy and the Amazonian princess to recruit newbies.
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa
Fortunately, we aren't given the Expendables treatment where Barney Ross goes around picking up men like groceries in a supermarket. The duo knows where to find them and the first half is about how the team is put together. The rest of the cavalry, apart from The Flash who can move at superhuman speeds, includes the aquatic superhero Aquaman (the gigantic Jason Momoa from GoT) and the cybernetically reconstructed Victor Stone, who transforms into Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
The last time there was a DC film with more than one hero — read Batman vs Superman — it came littered with problems, which the film’s director, Zack Snyder, acknowledged. This film has the same dark tonality to it you expect from the DCEU, but feels much lighter than previous films, thanks to the inclusion of the quirky Barry Allen who puts a smile constantly with his one-liners. You could say that the casting of the film is a big win. Jason Momoa is perfect as the heir to the undersea nation of Atlantis. Ben, as the aging Batman, and Gal, as the ageless Wonder Woman, light up the screen with their presence. You can’t really say the same about the character arcs and given the limited time frame, there’s little justice done to the backstory too. For example, Batman is a tactical man who uses his brains more than his brawns but we get a beefed up man who goes all guns blazing almost all of the time. We don’t even get a good glimpse of his gadgetry. Am I the only one missing the good ol’ utility belt?
The biggest problem of the film is the villain himself. Steppenwolf doesn't look intimidating and I'm not sure if it's the 'beaten to death destroying-the-world' angle or the uninteresting things he ends up doing. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. The mediocre CGI also makes him look cartoonish. Eventually, you also get the character who Alfred teases about in the trailer, and then, defeating the bad guy becomes a walk in the park. I’d really have loved more of Commissioner Gordon and Alfred, but instead, we get a glimpse of a random Russian family who add very little to the film.
If you’re a lover of the comics though, you’ll probably like the film. The fanboy moments are one too many to keep track of, and there are references to characters we don’t even expect. Also, it’s probably something you already do, but don't forget to stick around for the post-credit scenes. Ultimately, while Justice League may not get the general audiences cheering, it does sow the right seeds for future DC films. Those who're following the series are sure in for a treat, but hey, that’s what we, comic lovers, have been saying for a while.