The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - JUSTICE LEAGUE | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - JUSTICE LEAGUE

justice league review
Bruce Wayne assembles a team of superheroes to save the earth.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Robin Wright, Amy Adams, Amber Heard, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Connie Nielsen, Henry Cavill, Diane Lane, Kiersey Clemons, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds, Billy Crudup, JK Simmons

justice league poster

Superhero movies are a bit like international football friendlies - over-hyped spectacles played out by talented professionals who really don't want to be taking part. To continue this analogy, Justice League, the fifth movie in the ongoing DCEU franchise, is a scoreless draw between Chad and the Solomon Islands.

If you've seen any number of recent superhero movies, you'll be all too familiar with the setup here. It's essentially a reworking of The Wizard of Oz, with Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck as Dorothy and Toto (Wonder Woman and Batman), and Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher and Jason Momoa as the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow (The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman). Together, they must battle a Wicked Witch (an alien being named Steppenwolf, voiced by Ciaran Hinds) and its army of flying robot monkeys. Steppenwolf has a plan to destroy us all, and our little dogs too, by getting his hands on three "Mother Boxes" (manufactured in Taiwan by the Macguffin Corporation), which when combined, will turn our planet into a primordial hell-scape.

justice league review

Will our intrepid heroes cleverly pool their resources, making inventive use of each of their unique skills? Or will they simply punch Steppenwolf really, really hard? Again, if you've seen any number of recent superhero movies, you'll know the answer to this one.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - To the Stars ]

Justice League should have been DC's version of a Mission Impossible movie, with a team of disparately talented individuals using their skill sets to pull off feats that defy mere mortals. Alas, nobody involved with this particular franchise seems to give a damn (increasingly it seems DC stands for 'Don't Care'), and so we get yet another superhero movie that over-complicates a very simple plot with exposition scene after exposition scene, all leading to the inevitable wrestling match set against an indeterminate CG backdrop.

justice league review

Zack Snyder receives the sole directing credit here, but, hmm, I wonder... It's well publicised that Snyder had to depart the production for tragic personal reasons, with Joss Whedon stepping in to oversee reshoots, but aside from the slo-mo action sequences and a moody opening credits montage, none of this remotely resembles a typical Snyder movie. I'm not a fan of Snyder's overly glum and overly stylised aesthetic, but at least he has an aesthetic. 80% of Justice League looks like an episode of Ally McBeal, with many scenes suspiciously rendered in tight close-ups, and a shocking lack of scale for a big budget blockbuster. Aside from an early sequence on Wonder Woman's home island, there isn't so much as a crowd scene here, with most of the narrative playing out on studio bound interior sets. It makes the serviceable Wonder Woman look like Laurence of Arabia.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Only the Animals ]

The cheap aesthetics are matched by the functional performances of a set of actors who seem like they're working at gunpoint. Affleck has made it well known that he wants a way out of this franchise, and looks particularly under duress throughout. His absence of enthusiasm is somewhat disguised by the stiff performances of Fisher and Momoa (both of whose characters are thoroughly expendable, particularly Aquaman, given the lack of underwater action). Gadot tries her best with a role that mostly involves frowning at boys being icky, while Miller's neurotic Jewish stereotype quickly begins to grate. The movie's best scene is a throwaway conversation between Martha Kent and Lois Lane, not because it's particularly well written or staged (it's neither), but because Diane Lane and Amy Adams actually make an effort to earn their pay-cheques.

justice league review

There's a lot in Justice League that I simply couldn't make sense of. The Flash is recruited for his speed, but every member of the team seems to possess an ability to teleport themselves to and from locations. Cyborg wears a hoody, as if it will distract from the giant flashing red light he has for an eye. How does Cyborg negotiate the streets of Gotham without being noticed  by the public? Oh silly me, I forgot, there are no citizens of Gotham in this movie, as the budget apparently didn't extend to hiring extras. There's some confusing business involving another major character that I won't get into, partly because I don't want to be accused of spoilers, but mostly because I've devoted too many words already to this lazy, contractual obligation of a movie.

As is the norm, an end credits stinger promises further instalments of this torturous series. I'll be there, because this is the life I've chosen for myself. What's your excuse?

Justice League is on Netflix UK now.