Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” offers up nothing but fresh popcorn fun. Granted, this might not be my favorite interpretation of Flash, Superman or Batman. Yet, there’s so much variety offered up that you can’t help but smile. Everyone gets many moments to shine.
Let’s get the plot out of the way first. Three boxes from some other galaxy, a thousand years ago, are reawakened. Some horn headed demon villain named Steppenwolfe, with an army of flying cockroaches, wants to assemble them together to bring about a new creation that will also destroy the planet as we know it.
Okay! So there’s that. Moving on…
Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot return as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Gadot, especially is a welcome sight. She’s filmed beautifully in both alter egos and she’s capable of taking the silliness of the story seriously. Affleck is fine in his role and fortunately while he’s playing the the parts very straight, he’s also smirking at the humorous touches left in the script. Humor is especially anchored by Ezra Miller as naive Barry Allen as Flash. His costume is atrocious but that’s forgiven by his delivery and expressions. A Flash with no sense of direction is especially ironic. Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/ Aquaman is also given his own stand out moments. I think he carries the best joke and scene of the whole film thereby offering a casual chemistry to this team of super heroes. Lastly, there’s Ray Fisher as the Cyborg. I like how he easily fits into the Spock/Data of the team. He’s really a humanized special effect as he’s primarily robotic, able to access computers and machinery with only half his face remaining. He looks part Iron Man/part Terminator.
Oh yeah! Almost forgot. There’s Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman. He’s part of a resurrection story from the last film so he’s not around for a while nor given much to do except fight. Nonetheless, Cavill is a perfect looking Superman. He’s right for the role and I think many fans have finally embraced him in the part.
It’s no secret Zack Snyder got some back end support from Joss Whedon (director of Marvel’s “The Avengers”). Still, Snyder’s signature techniques are all over the film. Snyder interprets a number of his films as comic pages coming alive. He’ll freeze one object in a caption while having everything in the foreground move. Thereby his captions look like comic panels come to life. Example, during a early credits scene, a bum on a sidewalk is frozen with a somber message written on cardboard saying “I tried.” The bum and his board are still, but the hustle of city moves in slow motion beyond him. It’s a method of filming that seems right in a DC comic inspired film. He touched on this in “Watchmen” as well where it especially worked to honor the source material. Snyder as a director gets much vitriol from comic fans and social media and the response is significantly out of line and overly harsh. Snyder is meticulous in what he accomplishes. He might overuse his slow motion editing but at least a complicated battle or two are easy to follow. Haven’t seen that really in a Michael Bay film.
“Justice League” might not compare to the various Avengers films but it holds its own by not duplicating what came before it either. Warner Bros/DC might be thirsty for the same box office success of Disney’s inherited Marvel franchise but that doesn’t mean they are copying a formula either. Snyder and company are determined to find their own path.
Sure, the CGI Of Steppenwolfe appears unfinished and there’s no suspense to the adversary’s ulterior motive. Look, I’ll say it. This is a terribly poor screen villain but we want to see the long awaited team up of these favorite pop culture characters. At last, a Super Friends for those Saturday morning kid watchers has blessed us and I, for one, am very grateful.
Warner Brothers: don’t give up on this franchise yet. Don’t cave in to the pressure yet. You’ve got something here. Make it work.