We finally get to see what the fans have been begging for.
Thousands of years ago, an army of men, Atlanteans, Amazons, gods, and even a Green Lantern helped repel an invasion of “New Gods” led by the evil god Darkseid (Ray Porter). Following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in Batman v. Superman, ancient artifacts known as the Mother Boxes, which were used by Darkseid, have been awakened. Darkseid’s lieutenant, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), is sent to retrieve them and use them to destroy the Earth. Batman (Ben Affleck), knowing an attack is coming, tries to recruit Aquaman (Jason Momoa), who initially refuses, and then successfully recruits the Flash (Ezra Miller) while Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) recruits Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Steppenwolf manages to find two of the Mother Boxes, but Batman, realizing that they are outmatched, uses the third one to revive Superman. Superman attacks the rest of the team until Batman reveals Lois Lane (Amy Adams), leading him to leave. Meanwhile, Steppenwolf gets the third Mother Box and takes them to his base where he will use them to destroy Earth.
The team assaults the base and manages to get inside, but they cannot defeat Steppenwolf until Superman shows up and reminds everyone that he can go full HAM. They manage to stop the boxes from unifying (thanks to Barry Allen messing with time) and kill Steppenwolf. Darkseid indicates that his conquest of Earth will not stop there. The team separates again, with Batman proposing a headquarters in his childhood home. Lex Luthor (Jesse “Dear God Why” Eisenberg) breaks out of jail and meets with mercenary Slade Wilson (Joe Mangianello).
I realize now that I never actually finished writing my review of the original cut of this film. I started this blog just after the film came out, but I was caught up doing television episodes at that point and decided against reviewing it at the time. Fortunately, my summary that I wrote for that version mostly works for this one. If I had reviewed that one, it would probably have begun with the phrase “this was a giant waste of time and money.” I did not care for the theatrical Justice League film, but, in fairness, I hadn’t liked Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, or Suicide Squad, so the DCEU was not exactly blowing my skirt up at that point, Wonder Woman aside.
My biggest complaints about the original Justice League were that it had weak or no characterization, the plot was inane, and that the tone was wildly inconsistent. The good news is that this version does, for the most part, fix those problems. This is a fairly well-done story which, admittedly, relies on a lot of visual storytelling for a film that is often needlessly dark or saturated. In this, the characters are expanded upon sufficiently that we can understand their motivations and, even though they might take us to the same plot points as the original, the movements no longer feel random or stupid. I imagine this will be similar to how people will feel about the rest of A Song of Ice and Fire vs. the last season of Game of Thrones when George R.R. Martin finally finishes it. Yes, it’ll probably end up hitting most of the same points, but the journey will feel more full and natural if it isn’t rushed.
This isn’t to say that this is a perfect movie. For one thing, it’s four hours long and even the good parts feel pretty slow when you’ve sat through this much stuff. I’d recommend watching it as a mini-series if possible, because trying to do it in one sitting was tough. And, for another, it’s still not a great movie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty good and some of the action sequences, particularly the ones involving the Flash, are excellent, but overall, it’s still not a great movie. It still has a lot of very awkward lines, a lot of scenes that seem to be based more around setting up further properties than progressing the story, and, mostly, it doesn’t have a ton of scenes that really stand out as memorable. I mean, this is supposed to be our first meeting of the live-action Justice League and there just doesn’t feel like enough spectacle was put into it, despite being mostly visually well-done. I dunno how to explain that seeming contradiction, but I feel like it’s the truth. I just watched this movie, and there are only a handful of shots that stick out in my mind. Meanwhile, I can remember tons from Tim Burton’s Batman or the Christopher Reeve Superman.
Overall, it’s not that this is bad, it’s just not what it needed to be. I do hope that DC recognizes that it does have some good things and uses future movies, like Flashpoint, to get rid of what doesn’t work and focus on what does.
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