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Justice League - a colour-by-numbers superhero film


So let's get the spoiler out of the way. The Justice League beat the bad guy and save the day. As with all superhero films, the plot is straightforward. There is a threat to the whole planet and a group of superheroes have to find each other and a way to work together to eliminate the threat. Were you expecting something else?

Now that we have that out of the way, off we go.

Reviews to date have been unfavourable for Justice League. I think they are unduly harsh. To be fair, I do have a bias, preferring DC over Marvel. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash have always been favourites of mine. I'm not big on Aquaman. There is no denying that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a head start with over a dozen films completed. Their universe is more developed. DC are behind the four ball. Their biggest success to date has been Wonder Woman. The much-anticipated Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvSDoJ) failed to woo the critics although commercially it was a success. Marvel's tone has always been lighter than DC's. The latter has traditionally been darker.

Time for the latest entry in the DC Expanded Universe (DCEU) - Justice League. The film picks up where BvSDoJ left off. Batman (Bruce Wayne) blames himself for the death of Superman (Clark Kent). Meanwhile Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) is pining after Steve Trevor (see what I did there?).

A new threat appears on earth called Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds). Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) travel the planet to recruit a team including the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Given the last few seconds of BvSDoJ together with Henry Cavill being listed in the opening credits, guess who is coming to dinner? Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent and JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. Jeremy Irons rounds out the ensemble while applying sarcasm liberally as Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler, mechanic and occasional conscience.

The plot is predictable and, to be honest, unimaginative.

DC has always had a darker tone. Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy plunged the depths of human despair. BvSDoJ was dark and would have been successful if it were not for the "Martha Moment". This is definitely a Zack Snyder film but it appears that when Zack had to retire as director due to personal tragedy, Joss Whedon was told to lighten the mood. This was achieved by inserting jokes. Justice League members were never best friends and they never hung out. If you want that, go see a Marvel film.

For all of its failings, I liked it. It humanised the heroes and made them seem believable. I'm not going to address the Superman question. I'm just not.

I went into this with low expectations following the poor critic reviews. I saw it in a full cinema and gauging audience reaction, the critics have gotten it wrong again. I for one am looking forward to seeing more of this team in action. The aged Batman, the full-of-hope Wonder Woman, the quirky, naive Flash, the sarcastic Aquaman, the pained Cyborg, even the boy-scout Superman were all enjoyable on screen.

Gal Gadot is the best thing in this film. She and Affleck carry the whole endeavour. For my money Affleck is still the best incarnation of The Batman.


 

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