“Darkness, the truest darkness, is not the absence of light. It is the conviction that the light will never return, but the light always returns.” – Lois Lane.
(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
After three failed attempts at creating a cinematic franchise like Marvel, Warner Bros finally hit their stride this year with the release of Wonder Woman, but how does their Justice League stack up alongside it? Well, it’s not that bad.
Led by Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, the story follows Batman whose faith is restored in humanity after Superman’s selfless act; he is joined by Wonder Woman, who work together to find other meta-humans to stop a greater threat.
Right off the bat, the tone of the film is extremely different from what we’ve seen with past DC movies; for some that might derail the experience, but for others they may just find the enjoyment and ‘hope’ that these movies were lacking. Personally, I enjoyed the previous installments that were considered too dark. Man of Steel told the birth of Superman; whereas Batman v. Superman gave us his death, however, in a more metaphorical and allegorical way that critics deemed too complex for superheroes. While the story is spread out a bit thin, the movie shines the most when the characters are interacting with each other and fighting the bad guys; it leaves you jumping in your seat and cheering for the heroes. Stand-outs in the film are Ezra Miller’s Flash, who provides most of the comic relief throughout the film, although border-lining on annoying. Cyborg’s (Ray Fisher) character offers this film a lot of heart; whereas, Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) leaves you wanting more – which is a good thing. Batman and Wonder Woman’s arc progress nicely as the story goes, with Batman wanting to atone for his sins of the past, and Wonder Woman working on how to become more emotionally invested after departing for a century. However, the big winner for me in this movie is Superman, played by Henry Cavill, he fulfills the role much like Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man or Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool; it’s actually incredible. While his arc is rushed, the payoff comes from him being as hopeful as ever, compared to his previous two films. This Superman isn’t doubtful or ashamed of who he is anymore, he has transcended into becoming the symbol of hope he is meant to be. Although, the film is far from perfect. it’s entertaining and amazing to see these characters coming together to fight… But, that’s only as good as it gets.
As aforementioned, Superman’s arc is completely rushed, thanks to the film’s pacing. The film itself is rapidly-paced, up to the point where it gets a little distracting at times. It never lets the characters stop for a second and relax. It jumps from scene to scene, and it’s noticeable. Considering what went on behind-the-scenes with director Zack Snyder leaving due to a personal matter, the reshoots done by Joss Whedon (The Avengers), and the script rewrites, the flaws were practically screaming at me. Another problem evident with the film is its duration, with a mandate released by WB to have the film under two hours, it clearly hurt how the rest of the film played out. Not only that, but most of the scenes that were shown in the trailer were cut out of the film, further increasing the frustration of critics and movie-goers alike on social media. Furthermore, the film is absolutely riddled with horrible CGI at times, specifically when they tried to CGI out Henry Cavill’s moustache. If you didn’t know, at the time of reshoots, Cavill was contracted by Paramount not to shave off his moustache, prompting the crew of the film to mo-cap his face during filming. Throughout the film, the reshoots are evident with continuous errors in hair and makeup. At one point, I just realized how bad it became. Finally, there is the soundtrack, and it’s so bad. While some tracks are more enjoyable than others (Spark of the Flash, Hero’s Theme, and Justice League United), the score is so bland and generic that you can fit it in a pile of other superhero films, and not tell the difference. There are subtle cues from 1989’s Batman score or the John Williams Superman theme, but even then it doesn’t amplify the movie experience at all.
Overall, if you hated previous entries in the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) for its darkness, then chances are you’ll have a blast with this one and Wonder Woman. But if you’re like me and actually enjoyed seeing Superman question himself or Batman be at his lowest, then I’d still say to keep an open mind. This is the conclusion of a trilogy that started with 2013’s Man of Steel and I couldn’t be happier that it ended on a positive note. There’s fun to be had throughout, from The Flash’s naivety to Aquaman’s “surfer-bro” attitude. This cinematic universe is off to a good start, even with the limited runtime and iffy CGI throughout. The light, has indeed returned.