JUSTICE LEAGUE

Who let this happen?

Who, no doubt having seen Dawn of Justice, surmised that those behind Watchmen and Man of Steel, rather than, say, any of their more dexterous contemporaries, were the ones to raise DC above it’s mire of sub-standard Marvel wannabee slogfests?

Forgoing the lore and characterizations otherwise well established in Dawn of Justice, Director Zack Snyder’s ensemble flick, seemingly forgetting that the Justice crew were already ‘launched’ last year, has likewise neglected to deploy it’s valuable properties prior in the types of less over-stuffed, stand-alone features that so benefited the eventual assemblage of the Avengers.

Worse still, Batman, depicted by a wearisome Ben Affleck who has all the swagger of a performer who has long since ceased to give a damn, is an altogether different character from all of 20 months ago. Then hell-bent on holding an apparently unassailable Superman to account, here the Caped Crusader trudges amongst the motley crew of DC entities, alternately being a reprehensible vexation to Wonder Woman (a reliably superb Gal Gadot who can’t quite save this movie) or otherwise moping about how little he cares about the world he’s still apparently intent on saving. None of the character’s detective skills, nor the attributes for which he is better known feature too heavily to the great detriment of the film.

One of the few saving graces comes in the guise of Ezra Miller (The Flash), injecting Justice League with it’s sparing instances of humour that bear the evident signature of Joss Whedon; the Avengers and Buffy veteran having taken the helm of production in its later stages, with Producer Charles Roven going so far as to comment that “there’s only so much you can do with the other 15, 20 per cent of the movie.” One silent encounter between Flash and another character who is meant as a surprise but really won’t be a surprise to anyone is the one uproarious, laugh-out-loud moment in the entire two-hour run.

Ray Fisher as Cyborg is perfectly adept in his role, in spite of the precious little screen time dedicated to his origins and the clearly significant relationship with his father which are proffered barely little more than lip-service. J.K. Simmons, Amy Adams and Jeremy Irons, three celebrated performers portraying key roles in the DC Universe, together register a neglectable few minutes of screen time.

Aquaman (Jason Momoa), in a much anticipated appearance, is given no characterization beyond being the cocky, gung-ho member of the group. His underwater realm, which fans have been aching to see writ large on screen, along with so much else, like a great deal of this film is relegated to a perennial box-ticking of DC’s redoubtable lore, rather than any considered or non-fleeting exploration of the canon’s much-loved heroes.

The villains are not treated too differently, with a disposable CGI army, which are definitely not the Chitauri from Avengers, helmed by a big-old helmeted CGI monster bent on destruction, darkness etc who is definitely not Thanos (Ciaran Hinds in a thankless role) and a bunch of cube-shaped power grids which are definitely not the Tesseract.

As if that wasn’t enough, the way in which the sole female member of the League was not infrequently beheld, as compared to Patty Jenkin’s direction in Wonder Woman earlier this year, to say the least left a lot wanting. The at times revealing, lingering focus on the Amazon in a manner as conspicuous as it was gratuitous was notably not apparent in the treatment of her co-stars or of the character herself in her far superior former outing. This may be disappointing, but is not at all a surprising consequence of hiring the Director of Sucker Punch.

If the best thing that can be said about a movie is that it was better than Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad then you’re better off watching something else.

Justice League is in cinemas now