Justice League – movie review

by Russell Baillie / 08 December, 2017
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Despite some humour, this superhero bash isn’t memorable.

Say this for the underwhelming Justice League, it gets a lot done in a short time. It’s 120 or so minutes long, a blessed relief after last year’s deathless, dreary Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

That took 30 minutes longer. Then again, that one needed the extra time to work up to its major revelation – its caped combatants finally realised they shouldn’t be fighting each other because, hey, their mums had the same first name. Then Superman died. Aww.

Justice League, though, isn’t mucking around. It’s got new super-characters to introduce (Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg), it’s got a Superman to mourn and it’s got a super-villain called Steppenwolf to computer-generate while he roars around collecting the magic boxes with which he will rule the world.

So, the squad must save the world from Steppenwolf and his magic-box collection. Talk about a rush. Talk about epic. Well, you might talk about it. If only you could remember it afterwards.

What does leave an impression is Justice League’s odd lumpiness and lacklustre, digital work. That includes Steppenwolf, who may be a giant horn-helmeted battleaxe-wielding interplanetary god of evil, but his screen presence doesn’t live up to his job description.

Still, Justice League is more enjoyable than BvS:DoJ, which, no, isn’t saying much. If there is less of director Zack Snyder’s heavy-metal, scorched-earth style in evidence than last time, that may be due to Snyder leaving the film after a family tragedy and Joss Whedon – a writer-director with a career of sparky ensembles, including superhero team The Avengers – coming in for extensive reshoots.

So, it’s amusing around the edges, especially with the comedy offered by Ezra Miller as hyperactive nerd the Flash and Jason Momoa as swarthy submariner Aquaman.

Even glum Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) gets a quip or two. And Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) just kind of lights up every scene she’s in, punchline or no.

But this isn’t a patch on her exuberant earnest solo movie from earlier in the year.

She’ll survive slumming it with the blokes, but the rest of this DC Comics big-screen super-team is off to a very rocky start.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★1/2

This article was first published in the December 2, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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