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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Review: ‘Justice League’ is just as bad as anyone could have predicted


Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher in Justice League (2017).

If you are looking for a way to force your brain to slowly melt anytime soon, make your way over to the nearest movie theater to see “Justice League.” You will be treated to the latest mindless superhero action extravaganza.

This film represents the culmination of the DC Comics extended universe, which has been building through various movies such as “Man of Steel” and “Wonder Woman.” DC is trying to capitalize on the success that Marvel Comics has had with “The Avengers,” and it is failing spectacularly.

Marvel movies tend to be more lighthearted and often comedic in tone. In comparison, just about every DC film is a dark disaster, brimming with over-the-top action sequences and one-dimensional characters.

DC finally had success this year with “Wonder Woman,” and the franchise looked like it was taking a step in the right direction. Now that “Justice League” is in theaters, the DC Extended Universe has returned to its roots by releasing what is probably its worst movie yet, other than the absolutely abominable “Suicide Squad.”

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“Justice League” centers on Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), as he tries to form a team of superheroes to protect the world from danger now that Superman (Henry Cavill) is supposedly dead. Cavill is the second actor to be named onscreen during the beginning credits, so I will let you infer what that means.

Before long, the mindless action of the film begins when Steppenwolf, some sort of ancient, god-like demon creature, begins gathering a set of three ancient cube-shaped objects. Supposedly, they will help him rule the world, or destroy the universe, or some other kind of action movie cliche.

To stop this one-dimensional villain and his army of flying demons, Batman forms a team consisting of himself, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Gal Gadot is as charming as always as Wonder Woman; Cyborg is a semi-interesting robot-type thing; The Flash at least provides some much-needed comic relief, and God only knows what DC was trying to accomplish with Aquaman.

Aquaman’s most memorable scene consists of him gloriously strutting into the sea, hair fluttering in the ocean breeze while he downs a bottle of whiskey. Besides that, his character offers nothing whatsoever to the movie.

Most of the movie consists of the main characters fighting an army of flying demon creatures. Once you have seen the first five minutes of the first battle sequence, you’ve seen just about all this movie has to offer, which isn’t much to begin with. 

The dialogue in the movie is DC’s usual blend of dark, brooding negativity and incredibly melodramatic one-liners, many of which come courtesy of Affleck’s brooding, emotionless take on Batman.

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Director Zack Snyder’s spin on the character is a huge disappointment, especially considering the previous Batman, played by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. Nolan’s films were revolutionary, setting a completely new standard for what could be achieved in a comic book film. 

Nolan’s Batman films were dark as well, but they succeeded because of his strong writing and directing. They felt grounded in reality, as opposed to Snyder’s film, which is an incoherent mess.

Snyder had to step away from the film late in the process because of a family tragedy, and Joss Whedon, director of “The Avengers,” stepped in to finish it. It is unclear how much of an influence Whedon really had on the film, but it does not appear to be very much. This movie has much more of a Snyder-like tone.

The DC universe needs to learn how to make an ensemble superhero film that gives each character a chance to shine, while also providing a strong story. DC could really take a lesson from Marvel, who has learned how to do both very well. 

Go see it if you’ve been waiting to see these characters finally appear onscreen together in a live action film. Just don’t expect to enjoy it.

Grade: D

Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter

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