Movie Reviews

‘Justice League’ review: Team Chemistry Saves the Day in Superhero Ensemble Film

By Jordan Peterson |

JLA
Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons, from left) cohorts with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Batman (Ben Affleck) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) in “Justice League.” | Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi violence and action)
Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

The highest praise I can allot Justice League is that I laughed and smiled more than I yawned. And I yawned a lot. Perhaps because my particular screening was late at night and I have a fairly lengthy drive to and from the theater. Yes, I’m sure that was at least some part of it. Yet as I sat watching DC’s take on Marvel’s The Avengers, I couldn’t shake the overhanging cloud of tedium. I’ve seen this all before and in better films.

Instead of Infinity Stones (the coveted power gems of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), this time we get Mother Boxes. They’re essentially three glowing cubes that, when brought together, are capable of turning any planet into Apokolips. That’s the obligatory dark, lava-bursting hell that giant CGI monstrosity Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) calls home.

As it turns out, all three Mother Boxes are here on Earth and have been split up and secretly stowed away for millennia least they should fall into the wrong hands (because that always works). The first is locked in a vault on Themyscira, the indivisible island of the Amazons. The second lies at the bottom of the ocean in Atlantis. The third is buried under a mere few feet of loose dirt somewhere in Scandinavia.

Like most superhero movie MacGuffins, the Mother Boxes are shrouded in an expositional haze. We get little insight into what they actually are but loads of convenient backstory pertaining to their history on Earth. In addition to weighing down the first act, these flashbacks also feature some kickass action sequences. One in particular sees the Amazons playing an exciting and elaborate game of Keep Away with Steppenwolf.

For as much ado as there is about the Mother Boxes, they’re really just there to serve as the catalyst that brings Steppenwolf and his hoard of fear-feeding Parademons to Earth, ultimately uniting the Justice League. Being an ensemble piece, we catch only brief glimpses into the lives of newcomers Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa); Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher); and Barry Allen, aka the Flash (Ezra Miller), before Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman round them all up.

After some heavy-handed and predictable hesitation on the part of a couple members, the Justice League finally assembles. That’s where Justice League the film finds its stride. The chemistry amongst this talented and beautiful roster is infectious and their character dynamics are rich. It’s a joy watching these super friends figure each other out while in the process cracking quips and getting into fights. Throughout the ups and downs (of which there are plenty), their bonds hold like glue. Standouts include Batfleck as well as Ray Fisher, who, in his feature film debut, makes a strong impact as a relatively B-list character.

The biggest problem with Justice League isn’t its inconsistent visual effects or bland and noisy third act. This film’s Kryptonite is its mandated two-hour running time. There is so much story to convey and so many characters to justify that it’s almost exhausting trying to keep up with each vignette. Not to mention certain dramatic moments are softened because they’re not allowed to breath before the next action extravaganza begins.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ 1/2 (out of four)


What did you all think of Justice League? Again, this seems to be another divisive entry into the DC Extended Universe. Where do you fall? Let me know in the comments below!

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