So it's finally here! DC's Justice League is undoubtedly one of the most in demand graphic novels to be brought to life on the silver screen to join the DCU (DC Universe). After the huge success of Wonder Woman earlier this year, Justice League and the team behind it had a lot of pressure to get this film just right.
In Batman vs Superman, we saw the man of steel take his final breath at the hands of Lex Luthor's creation, Doomsday. We now see the return of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) along with many others of the population of planet earth learning to live in a world without Superman (Henry Cavill). Crime rates have risen and people have lost all hope. Bruce and Diana soon realise that there is a much greater evil heading their way. Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). The two heroes unite once again to seek out others to form a team so they can save the world. After all "You can't save the world alone".
With some help from Bruce's butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and some Wayne Enterprises technology, the two heroes set out to recruit the nerdy loner that is Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) , also known as The Flash, half machine half man hybrid Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the one and only Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the sea king we all know to be Aquaman.
The first thing we see in the film is a video recording of Superman being interviewed by a child asking him about being a superhero. The recorded video (filmed before Superman's demise) shows a very close shot of our hero trying to answer questions before then pausing while the camera is still rolling, leaving us as the audience to sit and focus on Superman's face while deep in thought. This is where my first critical thought came into my mind. While watching this I was sat thinking to myself "Has Superman had botox?" Yes you will probably know what I am about to say as it's been all over the internet and in a lot of articles in magazines and pretty much every other review. The terrible CGI in an attempt to cover up the actor's moustache. I'm sure many of you will know that during the time Henry Cavill was shooting scenes for Justice League, he was also bound to another contract at the same time. In this other contract he had been instructed not to shave off the moustache. So the 'brilliant' CGI team behind the Justice League were left to manage the situation. Well....They didn't. You can even see the outline of the amazing moustache if you look close enough. It did make me chuckle. I try not to critisize CGI too much in films as I know it takes a lot of hard work to be able to achieve great CGI results for films, games etc and I also know that it's something I'd be completely useless at. But unfortunately this was so hard not to miss. This awful attempt to cover up some facial hair was the one talking point that took over the entire film in all media. Which in my opinion really isn't fair. Just because the graphics in this instance may have been a bit of a blunder, it doesn't mean that the whole film was ruined.
So lets discuss the heroes that form our favourite DC comics team. We had previously seen plenty of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman from previous films (Man Of Steel, Batman vs Superman and Wonder Woman) so we already know what we feel about those actors in those roles. Personally I think those three couldn't have been cast any better. I really like Ben Affleck's Batman. When he was first cast I was a little unsure, but he is actually now my favourite version of the Gotham hero. It was great to see a lighter side to the man behind the Gotham bat, a rather amusing example of this was when meeting Barry Allen the youngster asked Wayne "So what's your superpower?" To which we see Affleck's character reply with the simple response "I'm rich." What was great about Batman/Bruce this time around was that the audience got to see much more of the bond between him and household butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons). The two men were often sharing scenes in the batcave working together at the helm to keep the team together and remain focused on their mission. We even saw them sharing a little banter such as Alfred commenting of the severity of the impending attack on earth by saying "one misses the day when one's biggest concerns were exploding wind up penguins" A very clever nod to the well known batman villain Oswald Cobblepot or better known as The Penguin.
Justice League was completely dominated by the amazing Wonder Woman. She was awesome! I loved her in her own film and even more so in this one, not only because she was an absolute force to be reckoned with while in battle, but also because we got to see a more vulnerable side to Gadot's amazon princess. After seeing her at the beginning of the film fighting crime in a bank and working in a museum talking to a colleague saying she was doing "nothing very interesting" over the weekend, we then learn that she is afraid to lead and take charge when given the opportunity to do so. She is hiding behind a lot of raw emotion and dealing with her inner demons following the death of her love Steve Trevor (portrayed by actor Chris Pine) in her own debut film. Yet we still see Diana at her strongest in this film. Her courage to fight to protect the ones she vows to protect sees her through. She also becomes the voice of reason and takes on a mother figure role when the new recruits join the Justice League. She does so by helping them to build up their confidence to be able to fight alongside her and Batman. Particularly when we see her reaching out to new league member Victor Stone. Stone, doubts himself in many ways after being rebuilt as a machine by his father in an attempt to save his life after an terrible accident some time ago. Later on in the film Diana mutters under her breath "I work with children" which is of course, her stating the obvious lack of maturity from her 'co-workers'.
As I have already mentioned him let move onto Cyborg. This version of Cyborg/Victor Stone is portrayed by Ray Fisher. Fisher is an American stage actor who is best known for his comedy role in 'The Good, The Bad and The Confused'. We saw a brief introduction to Cyborg in a small snippet of video footage within the Batman vs Superman film. Now this is the one character I was least looking forward to seeing in the Justice League film. I love the graphic novels but Cyborg is not a character I can favour. So I did have very little expectations for this character. I really was proven wrong. Fisher's version of the well known comic book hero was rather captivating, his back story is well known but it was quite emotional to see it in more depth in this film. Not only did I learn to like the character of Victor Stone but I also really enjoyed Cyborg too. We see so much more to the character than ever before with his abilities to become a computer and also a weapon. It's quite interesting to see how he learns bit by bit to control his not so human half with cannons for hands and being able to fly I think Cyborg will be an interesting hero to watch grow over time. Especially as his own solo film has now been announced.
Let's move onto The Flash. Barry Allen himself. I love this character and again when Ezra Miller was cast as the scarlet speedster for this film, I did feel my mood drop a little. The only film I had seen Miller appear in before this one was the Harry Potter spin off 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them'. Which he was great in but wasn't The Flash that I wanted to see on the big screen. Not only that, my biggest reason for originally doubting him in this role was because the announcement of his casting was around the same time that Grant Gustin's version of Barry Allen had just hit our tv screens in the CW series 'The Flash'. I loved Gustin's version of the flash immediately and found it hard to accept someone else (Other than John Wesley Shipp) filling those speedy shoes. Again I was completely wrong about my concerns with this casting choice. It actually turned out that I thought that Ezra Miller's flash was brilliant! His version of a young, inexperienced and immature Barry Allen was just what the film and the DC universe needed. He brought a lot of the comedy value to the film with statements including him telling Bruce Wayne that the flash suit was for his extreme ice dancing hobby and shouting out rather loudly "Oh awesome, that's the Bat signal! That's your...! oh shh (holds finger to mouth) sorry, that mean's we have to go now" while talking to Bruce and Diana after seeing the call for Batman for the first time. Unfortunately this is where I have to refer to the not so great CGI. The flash's suit looked awesome and battered like it was still a working progress which was great to see. But on the other hand, when watching scenes of Miller's Flash in battle or even just running, the effects really let him down. It was pretty clear that a treadmill was used during the filming of his scenes, which yes is fair enough, but it just didn't look like much effort had been made at all in covering that up. Also I remember watching one scene where we see him running and his legs are flaying around everywhere, which was actually quite amusing but not very professional for a huge film such as this one. One other complaint that I have about the Flash was a scene was completely cut which the audience had seen in the trailer for the film. This was a scene where Barry Allen is appearing to gently touch a glass panel which then shatters in front of him due to the effect of the speed force within his body. This can be said for quite a lot of the scenes that the trailer had promised us. Many were removed from the theatrical cut.
The last of our new heroes is Jason Momoa's Aquaman. Also known as Arthur Curry and the King of Atlantis. I think Momoa is great at what he does, but he does appear to be a bit of a one trick pony, playing similar roles on screen. The badass, the hard man, the one you really don't want to get into an argument with. It was great to see him speak with a light hearted american accent as he is mostly known for speaking Dothraki in his role as the very serious Khal Drogo in the TV series Game Of Thrones. I have read the Aquaman comic books and I am quite fond of them and he is nothing at all like the Arthur Curry that I know and love. The thing with this character is that he is often portrayed as rubbish or weakest member of the Justice League and I think because of this they wanted him seen in a different light for the film. A beefy, tribal tattooed, long haired ladies man type of specimen. Yes Aquaman can be appealing on the eye I suppose and he is somewhat muscular and to be honest I liked the metallic suit. I can see why they chose this appearance for Aquaman in this film because of those reasons but that does not explain the country bumpkin (sorry, not politically correct I know) phrases and mannerisms of Momoa's sea king. I mean is he a cowboy dressed as a fish or is he the king of Atlantis looking to work on a cattle ranch in his spare time? (No offence to cattle ranch workers or home owners at all, you all work very hard, but this is not Aquaman!). I really liked seeing Jason Momoa in a comedy type role in some scenes of the film, it makes a change from what we are used to seeing from him and this was great, but why on earth was he made to say "ma, maaaaan!", "Yeeeeee Hoooooo!" and "Dressed like a bat, I dig it" when seeing Bruce Wayne in his suit for the first time. It's not all negative for Mr Curry though. He shares a scene underwater in Atlantis with his soon to be queen Mera as they fight the villain Steppenwolf to protect the mother box that is hidden under the sea. I thought Amber Heard looked amazing as Mera. She looked almost identical to her animated counterpart in the books. Her character is not one to be messed with so it's good to see her warning Aquaman of the seriousness of the situation and how important it is for him to step up as the king of Atlantis. His first scene where we see him in action as Aquaman was fantastic. We see him use his trident to stop an impending flood of water heading towards the rest of the league while in a tunnel during battle. What an entrance! I am very intrigued to see how Momoa's character will develop in his own standalone feature and despite the quirks I wasn't so keen on during Justice League I actually did like the character.
I may have rambled on a fair amount about our newly formed team of heroes but I can't forget the smaller characters either. As mentioned previously in my review it was great to see more of Irons' Alfred but also the return of JK Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon. Unfortunately there still wasn't enough of him though. One moment that I thought may have been significant in the film was when Gordon can be seen discussing a big case with another officer explaining that he will deal with it. Why this particular officer? Why not have it said behind closed doors? Could this be the introduction of detective Joe West? The adopted father to Barry Allen from the comics. We will have to wait and see in the Flashpoint movie.
Another background character included Amy Adam's Lois Lane, a front runner in Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but we saw a lot less of the daily planet reporter this time around. The most memorable scene we see her in is when she is brought in by Batman as "the big guns" to calm a newly resurrected Clark Kent.
So the villain of this film. Steppenwolf. The god in search of his beloved motherboxes to bring them together and then destroy the planet. Voiced by Ciaran Hinds the character wasn't brilliant. He looked the part with his horns on his helmet very much like Ares who we saw in Wonder Woman. But there's not much more that I can say about him. His minions which were flying creepy looking zombie soldiers did most of his work for him in finding the mother boxes. Every now and again we'd see Steppenwolf actually fight his own battles. Plus the big showdown at the end. The only point where this villain stood out for me was at the beginning of the film where he is seen taunting the Amazons in Themyscira. And that's not for anything that he did or said, but at that point I really loved the scenes where the Amazon women are in battle with him and his flying zombies. The scenes were so thrilling and well choreographed that it really grabbed my attention. Other than that I thought that Steppenwolf was a bit of a 'meh' character.
Lastly I want to mention about the films end credit scenes. SPOILER ALERT! There were not one but two end credit scenes. The first we didn't have to wait too long to see. It showed Superman and The Flash standing on what appeared to be a runway joking with each other about which one of them is the fastest. They are then seen speeding off into a blur before the scene goes black. Roll on some more credits and we get the big one! This scene I did actually know about before going to see the film and it was one I was so excited to see on the big screen. As it started I sat in my seat flapping my hands with excitement like a performing sea lion as I continued to watch. The scene starts with an officer in a prison walking up to a cell which was for Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenburg) only for the officer to find a crazy mad man in Luthor's place. We then see a boat with people on board only to then see Lex Luthor and some of his guards talking to someone about a plan to destroy our beloved heroes. And who was he talking to? Slade Wilson in full costume! Deathstroke himself! Many people have been waiting for the appearance of this character for quite some time. Particularly fans of the CW's Arrow. The TV series based on the life of Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow (played by Stephen Amell) has already seen one version of Deathstroke which is a character that many grew fond of. We have seen the portrayal of the character from actor Manu Bennett in this series so people are rather intrigued to see just how the role will play out with the casting of Joe Manganiello. Only time will tell.
Lets round this up then. I really loved this film, I liked the story, the characters, the costumes and if it were just based on that I would be giving Justice League a full score of 5 out of 5. But because I was able to find a fair amount of flaws and let downs with it I am not able to give it a top score. It is definitely one that I do recommend to watch and I cannot wait to be able to own it on release to go with the rest of my nerdy comic book film collection to be able to watch it time and time again.
This review is currently on my own review website https://kasimmons8.wixsite.com/therealviewroom