12A – 120mins – 2017 – 3D – IMAX
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
Having already directed two hugely successful Marvel team-up features, Avengers assembler Joss Whedon was brought on board to rival comic book juggernaut DC’s comparison piece to oversee post-production after original helmer Zack Snyder left Justice League following a family tragedy. We will never know completely – save for a hugely-unlikely commentary track on the home release – exactly how steadfastly Whedon stuck to Snyder’s vision, except that Whedon directed newly-penned reshoots yet is only ascribed as a co-writer, leaving Snyder with the sole director credit.
This fifth entry in DC’s wholly divisive extended universe is set in the wake of Batman v. Superman‘s death of the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill). Humanity is lacking hope and devilish arch-villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Bleed For This Hinds) takes advantage of the Kryptonian’s absence by leading an army of insectoid Parademons to our world to reunite three McGuffin – sorry, Mother – Boxes (think the AllSpark from Transformers or the Tesseract from Avengers Assemble) which centuries ago were separated and hidden amongst Atlantians, Amazonians and Mankind.
Step up the weary and grizzled Dark Knight (Ben Affleck), who looks to recruit a team of metahuman allies including Wonder Woman (Gal Wonder Woman Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Madame Bovary Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) against the threat. But what Batman really needs is Superman’s might back on their side, if only Lex Luthor had established the ability to bring characters back from the dead in last year’s precursor Dawn of Justice…
With a large and starry cast coming together in a surprisingly taut running time (two hours flat, including credits – 62minutes shy of BvS‘s inflated Ultimate Edition), I could bemoan the film’s schizophrenic nature, especially early on, jumping between diverse characters and locations. And yet, in hindsight, I think the film manages to juggle the extensive ensemble fairly well without anyone getting short changed. This is especially true of Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Lois Lane (Amy Arrival Adams), who without their leading man could have felt shoehorned.
Contrastingly, I’m not entirely sure why J.K. Simmons felt the need to bulk up for the role of Commissioner Gordon, given how he appeared in all of 2/3 scenes, each time in a formless suit? Of the film’s other new recruits, Ezra Miller makes the biggest impression with his nervous-chatty characterisation, even if not every gag which comes out of his mouth elicits a laugh (“It’s like a cave… of bats… a bat cave!” for instance).
On the subject of humour, I felt Justice League better balanced quips and action than the often overtly frivolous Thor: Ragnarok, however Taika Waititi’s Marvel debut far surpasses JL on poignancy and pathos, even with two directors behind the cowl. DC’s super-expensive superhero medley still looks flash (ahem) but also worryingly hollow, and while it’s never as messy as Suicide Squad, I have no desire to rewatch it again any time soon. Finally, I also wish I never found out about Henry Cavill’s moustache being CG-ed out in post, as I was forever drawn to it, and sadly, often judged it as jarringly uncanny.
CR@B’s Claw Score: