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‘Justice League’ (review by Leyla Mikkelsen)

Produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder,
Jon Berg, Geoff Johns
Screenplay by Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Story by Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder
Based on Justice League by Gardner Fox
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams,
Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher,
Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Ciarán Hinds

Not only has establishing the DC Extended Universe proved to be an arduous task with the numerous flops threatening to be a deadly counterweight to the one big hit the current film franchise managed to land with Wonder Woman this summer, the production of Justice League itself has also been tumultuous, to say the least.

When Zack Snyder decided to step down from Justice League due to the tragic loss of his daughter, Joss Whedon stepped in to cover for Snyder, helming a substantial amount of re-shoots.

Among DC fans, concerns understandably grew that Warner Bros. were simply trying to imitate the Marvel formula by bringing in the director of The Avengers, but while it is for better and most definitely also worse easy to see which elements Whedon has been in charge of, Justice League overwhelmingly comes across as the vision of a Snyder who has reined in his preference for angsty bleakness and muted colors and instead attempted to create a more vibrant film with more of a comic book feel than his previous DCEU offerings.

In their first team outing, the Justice League bands together in a colorful, yet very DC-esque film, which at times brings to mind the aesthetics of Tim Burton’s films about the Caped Crusader.

As such, it seems that Justice League has set the course for the return to a brighter, more family-friendly Batman that both seasoned and casual fans of all ages may enjoy. This return is further emphasized by Danny Elfman weaving his older score into several sequences in the new film, all the while without compromising the identity of the new score as a whole.

Henry Cavill manages to deliver a much more satisfying take on Superman this time around, and Gal Gadot once again brings her enthusiasm to Wonder Woman, delivering a handful of memorable and empowering moments. However, Whedon has annoyingly managed to sneak some tasteless moments into the film, which further attests to why fans of the Amazonian princess should praise the Greek gods that Whedon never got to direct a full Wonder Woman feature, as these moments are frustrating reminders of the disservice he did Marvel’s Black Widow.

After not only being chopped down to a single feature rather than the double bill it was initially intended to be, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara reportedly demanded that the film could not exceed a two-hour runtime, and Justice League is as a result indeed only two hours long. While it is understandable that Warner Bros. is trying to address the duration issues of some of the previous installments of the DCEU, much like Wonder Woman made the most of its 2 hours and 21 minutes, it would have been preferable to grant Justice League a slightly longer runtime.

Not only would this have enabled the filmmakers to better establish the underdeveloped villain Steppenwolf, but it would also have allowed Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash to be more fleshed out and feel less like the supporting acts of the Trinity.

That being said, Justice League is a rather balanced film, which works surprisingly well for what is essentially an incredibly elaborate retcon job. As such, while some would argue that some critics are being overly generous because the early entries in the DCEU has set the bar so painfully low, it is worth noting that Justice League shows that there is the potential for DC to compete with Marvel; while Marvel may have earned their success thanks to their consistency and meticulous planning, many feel that they are becoming too repetitive, and Justice League therefore bodes well for a more varied future in terms of superhero films.

While Justice League feels like its own entity rather than an imitation of an MCU film, it most definitely has its flaws and is likely to go down in movie history less so as one of the greatest superhero films of all time, and more so as a curiosity in terms of production processes run amok.

However, it is safe to say that Warner Bros. are listening to the concerns that have been brought forward time and time again because of the first three entries in the DCEU, just as Snyder’s vision for this particular film also appears to counteract the much maligned tropes he tends to rely on.

Only the box office will tell, but hopefully the lukewarm reviews and lessened interest in the DCEU will not become the Kryptonite to the future of this particular cinematic universe.

Verdict 6 out of 10

 

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