"Justice League" Movie Review

by Neil A. Cole

Warning: Potential Spoilers

"Justice League" has officially made its long-awaited premiere in theaters and fans finally have the opportunity to see the iconic team of superheroes make their debut on the silver screen.

Directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon, the follow-up to the less-than-perfect "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is certainly an improvement over its predecessor and succeeds strongly with the addition of a great mix of action and humor but, unfortunately, still sadly fails when it comes to yet another generic villain; this time in the form of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds).

Returning to the cast from the last film are Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Henry Cavill as well as the addition of newcomers to the film franchise including Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, and J.K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon.

Also featured throughout the film are return appearances by Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. However, with the exception of Irons who shines in his role with more screen time than that of "Batman v Superman", both Adams and Lane appear only briefly and, when they do, add very little to the overall storyline of the film. In addition, Laurence Fishburne who starred in the previous two installments of the series as Perry White does not appear in the film at all.

The story kicks off with the world still in mourning over the death of Superman (Cavill) while Batman (Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gadot), sensing the oncoming threat of Steppenwolf and his legion of Parademons, are busy attempting to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Momoa), Barry Allen/Flash (Miller), and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Fisher) to join their ranks in the impending fight.

Through Diana's explanation on the history of Steppenwolf, it is learned that thousands of years ago he attempted to take over the world using the combined energy of three Mother Boxes but was defeated by the combined forces of the Amazons, Atlanteans, and Man as well as otherwordly gods and superheroes including a Green Lantern. Steppenwolf has now returned to seek out the three Mother Boxes and finish what he started so many years before.

Flash is the first to join the team immediately after being asked by Bruce Wayne. He is portrayed perfectly by Miller with the right mix of humor and uncertainty in his sudden role as a superhero while also having Batman serve in the role as a teacher; much in the same way that he was to Dick Grayson/Robin.

While at first reluctant to join, both Aquaman and Cyborg eventually come on board with Momoa doing an excellent job in his role as the iconic Atlantean adding a grittiness to the character that is a nice change from the campiness typically associated with the character. Fisher also does well as Cyborg but comes across as a bit dull at times and never really has an opportunity to shine especially when it comes to any fight sequences.

With the team now banded together, the film really begins to find it's footing and settle into a groove with Batman fully at the healm of the newly formed Justice League. However, even with an arsonal of new weapons and Bat-vehicles - such as the Flying Fox transport and Knightcrawler - as well as a Mother Box at their disposal, the team quickly learns that defeating Steppenwolf will be a much tougher task than first thought.

The team surmises that their only chance in defeating Steppenwolf is to somehow resurrect Superman. Without spoiling the exact details of how this is ultimately accomplished, Superman's return to the world of the living doesn't exactly go without a few initial hiccups but, ultimately, sees Cavill once again donning the iconic red & blue costume and helping the League to defeat Steppenwolf once and for all.

A final sequence offers a wonderful glimpse at what the future holds for the Justice League team while a mid-credits scene features one last bit of humor and an end-credits scene provides some unexpected intrigue from two iconic DC Comics characters.

While the storyline is much more entertaining and witty this time around, "Justice League" unfortunately still suffers from an overall dark and murky landscape which have previously plagued both "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice". CGI that borders on abysmal in certain scenes also adds to the disappointing visual look of the film.

However, the abundant addition of humor in "Justice League" does help bring a much-needed bit of comic relief that has been lacking for far too long and a shorter two-hour run time offers a perfect amount of time for the storyline to play out.

All-in-all, Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon have written a great story and, although not perfect, "Justice League" is a step in the right direction and does an excellent job in establishing new characters while also continuing the Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman storylines. This is certainly a film DC and comic book fans in general will enjoy and a nice palate-cleanser following the lackluster "Batman v Superman".

7.5 Out of 10 Stars