Monday, 19 March 2018

Justice League ★☆☆☆☆

It’s incredibly difficult to watch a DC superhero film and not compare it to a Marvel superhero film and vice-versa - sadly, there’s always some level of competition. Good news for Marvel then, as DC’s latest film, ‘Justice League’, is going to be pretty hard to lose against.

Set after the events of the newest ‘Wonder Woman’ film and ‘Batman vs. Superman’, the world is under threat yet again, this time by outstandingly mediocre villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), who plans to give world takeover one more chance with the use of his trusty Mother Boxes, which power together to form The Unity and transform the Earth into the image of his homeworld. After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) the people have given up (somewhat mirroring the reception of the film, if I’m honest), and Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) need to come up with a plan, fast - with Steppenwolf locating two of the three Mother Boxes before a team is even assembled, it’s only a matter of time before the third and final box is in his hands.

I think the main problem lies with the backstory in this one, as we’ve really only had this with Batman and Wonder Woman so far. People may complain about Marvel’s drawn-out series of films but you really need it if you’re going to do something like this, as without sufficient backstory it feels clumsy and unrelatable. Take our new superheroes, for example - Aquaman (Jason Momoa) gets a five minute conversation with Batman as his backstory, and we’re given just a few scenes of the Flash (Ezra Miller) meeting with his Dad in prison to develop some sort of connection with him. All we know about Cyborg (Ray Fisher) is that he didn’t die but he should have done, which is pretty much all he seems to know as well. We’re expected to relate to these characters and want them to win, but it’s pretty difficult when we know as much about them as we do the minor characters.

Lack of backstory also means that the characters don’t gel in the way they have done with the Avengers - it seems to be that they meet for the first time as a group, and then within five minutes they’re all happy and can fight together with no issues (despite no fighting plan really being discussed). There aren’t any scenes showing team development and there also aren’t many conflicts to bring them together - each character settles into a stereotypical role and then that’s pretty much it. The great chemistry between Batman and Superman is lost this time round, and none of the other characters seem to find it.

Our antagonist, Steppenwolf, isn’t all that great either - we do get some backstory on him, but it’s overly formulaic in its delivery and his motives for wanting to take over the world are just so… boring. I don’t think anyone could relate to this guy at all, and the rest of the world was so patchy and shallow that I wouldn’t have been all that bothered if he’d managed to smite it all (at least the film would have ended sooner).

The best bits of the film were the scenes away from the action (such as Superman reuniting with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), but sadly there’s not much focus on this. Glaring plot holes are hard to ignore and the film feels disjointed as it skips all the juicy bits in favour of monotonous fighting scenes and poorly-produced CGI. Despite this, I felt that all of the slow-motion scenes were done really well, but that niggling feeling that I’d been transported back to a cinema in 2010 was just too hard to ignore.

For now at least, it looks as though Marvel are leading the way. Unlike DC, they’ve actually crafted a universe around their characters and there’s so much depth that it’s hard not to get pulled in. The same can’t be said for DC, where they seem to have created the ‘Justice League’ universe purely to give their superheroes something to do to pass the time. Although they can produce a damn good movie when the focus is on one character (as we’ve seen from ‘Wonder Woman’ and the ‘Batman’ franchise), the same can’t be said when they have to bring it all together. 1/5

Hannah Read

Justice League at CeX

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