Justice League

Justice League at least assembles its ragtag team of superheroes with a certain level of enthusiasm at the start, but the film could afford a little more of that by positioning them against a more convincing threat. The villain here is the kind of generic Big Bad that gives generic Big Bads the qualifier: He-s an effects creation - a poor one - who wants to seek a series of objects that will give him ultimate power. As often as the screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon tries to explain these objects, it's never clear what they do or what their significance is. "They do not contain power," explains one of the heroes to another; "They are power." That explanation doesn't really help.

It is consistently this way in the movie: Some silly plot device is introduced, and we get a convoluted explanation for its presence. Yet it starts swimmingly enough. Following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), aka Batman (who is still a brooding, bitter man - doubly so, now that he blames himself for Superman's fate), and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), aka Wonder Woman (who got her own, pretty good movie recently but is back in generic hero mode for this round), must go back to contemplating the institution of a league of superheroes when a new threat emerges.

Steppenwolf (voice of Ciaran Hinds) wants his "Mother Boxes," which are some sorta things that can give him ultimate power, which just looks a lot like beams of light that he can absorb. Earth and its two nearest, neighboring realms - the lost city of Atlantis and Themyscira, the hidden island belonging to the Amazons - carry one of these boxes each. Diana hails from Themyscira, of course, and Atlantis bears a protector of Earth from beneath the waves in the form of Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), aka Aquaman.

There are also Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), aka the Flash (who is trying to clear his dad, played by Billy Crudup, as innocent of the murder of his mom), and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), a former high-school football star whose near-fatal experience in a car crash that killed his mother led his father (played by Joe Morton) to construct a mostly cybernetic body for his son. In other words, it's yet another team-up movie that calls for yet more action sequences that highlight the members' powers. Director Zack Snyder employs his trademark use of slow-motion, with the help of cinematographer Fabian Wagner, which only really makes one action sequence - a game of hot potato on horseback between the Amazons and Steppenwolf - remotely fun.

The film handles the Flash's sense of awe, Aquaman's devil-may-care attitude, and Superman's return (For those who are phobic of spoilers, did you really expect a movie about the Justice League not to resurrect the hero who fights for that, truth, and the other thing) with the remaining sense of fun in the film's toolbelt. It doesn't really know what to do with Batman (who mostly broods), Wonder Woman (who mostly poses), Cyborg (who is mostly monotonous, something to which Fisher is clearly resigned), or Steppenwolf (who really is quite unfortunate to look at), though. Justice League basically suffices as a team-assembly movie, but that's damning faint praise. Then you get to the part where they must fight a bad guy.

Film Information

Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (Barry Allen/The Flash), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone/Cyborg), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman), Henry Cavill (Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), J.K. Simmons (Jim Gordon), Ciaran Hinds (Steppenwolf), Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta), Billy Crudup (Henry Allen), Amber Heard (Mera), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor).

Directed by Zack Snyder and written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon.

Rated PG-13 (sci-fi violence/action).

121 minutes.

Released on November 17, 2017.

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