**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS**
Picking up where Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice left off, Superman has remained dead, leaving a shattered world in a state of hopelessness and mourning. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) try their best to keep a sense of order in their respective areas, but recent events have left the world gray and lifeless. When an unknown threat arrives in Gotham City, Bruce takes it upon himself to assemble a team to suppress the attackers and save the world.
While certainly a step up from BvS, Justice League manages to fall on its face yet again. While it has higher highs and higher lows than BvS and Suicide Squad, the film is a plateau of mediocrity. Even with help from Joss Whedon, it remains evident that director Zack Snyder and Warner Brothers have no clear plan for this franchise and no sense of how to make it work and gel together. The film is devoid of anything interesting throughout the first 40 minutes of its runtime, and once the league actually gets together, is only sprinkled with little fun “moments” that come and go.
Perhaps the most fun I had in this film was trying to identify which scenes were Whedon’s and which were Snyder’s. It’s not hard to tell which is which. The directorial efforts of Snyder, a director who revels in “maturity” and dark themes, frequently clashed with Whedon’s attempt to ground the film and make it more light-hearted and comical. The humor falls flat, as the film constantly tries to make the easiest joke available, forcing its humor and causing it to miss its mark. Why is Batman asking Aquaman if he can really talk to fish?
The film retains the generic plot and villain the last few DC films have had, with Steppenwolf being the worst offender yet. Incredibly uninteresting and topped with awful CGI, Steppenwolf is merely a prop used by the film to bring the league together for the final act, using several plot MacGuffins to do so. There are far too many characters given far too little to do, resulting in a lack of believable character development for many Justice League members. The story is shallow and surface-level, lacking any interesting side plots, other than a god-awful one with a Russian family that served no purpose in the film other than to show us that the Justice League are the good guys. The film jumps from set-piece to set-piece, stopping occasionally to allow the characters to speak nonsense and dump loads of exposition on the audience. The film raises plot-holes not only in its own narrative, but in prior films like BvS, and comes oh so close to another “Martha” moment.
While the film has many elements working against it, it doesn’t entirely fall apart like some of the other films in the franchise before it. The interactions between the members of the Justice League were quite enjoyable, and Flash becomes a nice source of comic relief at times. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Ezra Miller’s Flash are given time to shine, but perhaps the best thing to come out of the film is the treatment of Superman. In an attempt to right Snyder’s wrongs of making Superman overly-dark and sad, Justice League manages to bring him to life (literally), making him more like the comic-book boy scout he should be. Superman certainly feels like a beacon of hope and righteousness in this film when compared to Man of Steel and BvS, and provides the most fun and captivating action sequence in the entire film.
The film certainly feels more grounded than the other DC movies, but all the successes in the film couldn’t right the wrongs. The small fun little “moments” and character interactions weren’t enough to fix the sinking ship, leading the film to feel like a sort of Diet-Avengers. This is certainly a step in the right direction for Warner Brothers, as all the characters seem to have their own interesting identities, all begging to be explored and told in interesting and fun ways. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting any of that here.