This week’s battle to save the universe includes a gaggle of superheroes and team of CGI technicians, not necessarily in that order. The gauntlet is thrown: Marvel Comics (Iron Man, Spider Man, Hulk, etc.) vs. DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc). Last week, Marvel brought us Thor, this week; DC Comics brings in their big guns.
For most of this genre, the superpower is to bait the public into waiting in long lines, take their money, then repeat with a lackluster sequel. Most superheroes do quite well on their own, but occasionally, we are treated to a parade. The “Avengers” (Marvel) did so well in 2012 and 2015, DC decided to get in on the action with “Justice League.”
Director and co-writer Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”) and wife, producer Debra Snyder deliver this cavalcade of stars, including Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). The plot is mostly uninspired and dialog often tedious, but these bankable stars are credible, charismatic and simply likable.
Gadot lit up the screen with her “Wonder Woman” solo feature earlier this year. Her athleticism, icy stare and slight Israeli accent all work in her favor. It would not be considered hyperbole to describe her as awesome. Affleck was the target of ridicule from fanboys when he was originally announced to play “Batman” a few years ago. Incredibly, he quickly generated the necessary gravitas to carry that illustrious cape.
As with Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill was born for the role of the original and fan favorite, Superman. Our biggest complaint was we just wanted to see more of each superstar. In this episode, the world of disappearing heroes brings chaos, kind of like in real life. Now, truth, justice and the American way are often three different things.
Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work to recruit a team of meta-humans to stand against a newly awakened threat. A hideous beast called Steppenwolf (voice of Ciaran Hinds) is born to be, uh, you know. For some reason, the monster is filled with clunky dialog explaining his every move and more annoying than dangerous.
Even with a fleet of flying monkeys, Steppenwolf is frustrated when his victims plead, “We have families!” He replies, “Why do people always tell me that?” The world just doesn’t seem right. Batman declares, “I don’t have to recognize it, just have to save it.” They enlist hunky Aquaman (Jason Momoa), a six million dollar Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the youthful Flash (Ezra Miller) who immediately accepts, “I’m in, yeah, I need friends.”
Aquaman is not so keen on Batman’s idea, charging, “You’re out of your mind!” Batman responds, “That doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” Trying to follow the progress, Commissioner Gordon asks the Batman, “How many of you are there?” Batman flatly replies, “Not enough.” As in most of these movies, the general plan of attack is, “I’m going in.”
The cast features three Oscar winners and three Oscar nominees. The all-star supporting cast includes Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, Billy Crudup and Jesse Eisenberg. Despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes, the team may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of cataclysmic proportions.
“Justice League” is two hours and rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action. This is a very flawed movie; there are too many stars, too much CGI and not enough supporting dialog. However, if you decide to just go with it, it could be fun. As a “team origins” movie, it is mostly satisfying and the sequel has the potential of being even better.
The banter and one-line zingers from these costumed crime fighters are fascinating, but we appreciated some of the more lyrical dialog, such as, “The stench of your fear is making my soldiers hungry.” We enjoyed these superheroes, but even Batman’s butler Alfred realizes, “We might not have fully thought this through.” Kind of like the plot.
Ron’s Rating: B
Leigh’s Rating: B