The self-sacrificing death of Superman (Henry Cavill) has left Earth with a vulnerability which an ancient, giant warrior from Apokolips, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), intends to exploit in order to conquer the world. In order to defeat him, Batman (Ben Affleck) calls upon Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help convince Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) to join them in a united front, a "Justice League."
Warner Brother's latest DC Comics adaptation (screenplay is by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, story by Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder) has had two blows before even opening - director Zack Snyder handing over the reins to Whedon after a family tragedy and, ironically, the huge success of "Wonder Woman" raising the bar. So it is a great surprise to find that while it offers little new story-wise (Superheroes saving the world from another CGI villain who looks like a low rent version of Tim Curry's Darkness in "Legend") and suffers from the same, sludgy CGI battles that marred the end of "Wonder Woman," it's better than the film it picks up from ("Batman v Superman") and two of its three new characters are a lot of fun. If only they'd resisted the urge to shoot Gadot's red leather-clad posterior in close-up.
Not only is the world a much darker place since Superman's death, it's already under attack by the vampiric looking, flying wasp-like creatures which feed on fear, Steppenwolf's own army of 'flying monkeys' emerging from the ruins of Chernobyl (the filmmakers waste a bunch of time on the one lone family who appear to live there so they'll have people to save during the climax). Batman is in mea culpa mode after Superman's death (the film's running joke is that he has no super powers other than that he's rich), but oversteps a line when he accuses Wonder Woman of ducking responsibility in her continued grief over Steve Trevor's death. But when Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) sends a signal that Themyscira is under attack, it rouses her to action. As Batman goes off to recruit The Flash and Aquaman, she takes on the more psychologically tricky Cyborg.
There's a lot of comic book mumbo jumbo about three 'motherboxes' which will form 'the unity,' Steppenwolf's path to darkness involving twisty projections shooting out of the earth, but it's far more suspenseful watching Cyborg use one as a jump start device. The film entertains with a Wonder Woman ass-kicking opener and the introductions of The Flash, intent on springing his dad Henry Allen (Billy Crudup) from jail, and the hard drinking, irreverent Aquaman. Watch for an early shot of a newspaper front page asking if David Bowie, Superman and Prince have all returned to their home planets. Batman's Knightcrawler, a walking tank, is his newest toy, but the Batmobile is freshened up by Aquaman's appreciation.
Affleck, sounding like he's channeled his voice through Darth Vader's vocoder, is fine as the aging, now self-deprecating Batman while Gadot spins Wonder Woman's goodness with grief and risk aversion. Ezra Miller brings so much personality to The Flash, his hesitant enthusiasm accented with geeky humor, he's the film's best element, but Jason Momoa must also be commended for his amusingly flippant burly Scandinavian fisherman twist on a comic book character who once looked doomed to failure. There are welcome returns from Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Jeremy Irons (Alfred). Joe Morton is Silas Stone, Cyborg's scientist father and J.K. Simmons takes on the mantle of Commissioner Gordon. Amber Heard is Mera, an Atlantean like Aquaman.
"Justice League" is a mixed bag, but its pleasures outweigh its plodding.
Robin did not see this film.
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