Breaking News
More () »

'Justice League' is neat, entertaining fluff with no depth or heart

It's entertaining, fun and will make you laugh a bit. Just don't go in expecting something amazing. You'll be disappointed.
Warner Brothers

True Confession: Justice League didn't stink, but wasn't very good either. Does that make sense? Stay with me and read on.

The best superhero films are the ones that combine action, humor and heart. Or ones named The Dark Knight. Since the characters are basically indestructible, there has to be a fair measure of heart and soul invested in the characters to make them stand out from the rest. If not, their superheroes get redundant rather quickly. Good looking people with large muscles or great legs are one thing, but if you don't care about them, nothing will resonate in the end. Charm me at least is what I ask.

Coming into Justice League, my expectations were marginally optimistic. After the uneven mess that Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice was, I wasn't sure if director Zack Snyder could pull off a great DC Comics movie with all the heroes stuffed into one two hour film.

Upon leaving it, I can assure you that it's not as bad or misguided as B.V.S., but I can stand and deliver the opinion that I didn't care about a single character in this movie. That's a problem when it comes to a movie truly connecting or leaving a lasting mark on your mind. While it's entertaining and neat, Justice League can feel arbitrary too often at times.

What appeared as fun and cohesive right after I left the theater this week felt like something that was merely alright 18 hours later as I write the review. Snyder received help from Joss Whedon in finishing the film, and you can certainly feel the Marvel auteur's touch in parts of the film. But overall, this is a Snyder film and his efforts are good without being great. It's just an OK time at the movies. Pardon me if I don't have fancy words to describe this flick with a man who can talk to fish, someone who moves really fast, a part-man-part-machine and a moody outcast dressed as a bat.

In order to truly get to the heart of the matter, I am going to employ a technique I used with B.V.S., and that's breaking down the film into good, bad, and ugly categories.

The Good Parts

Ben Affleck's Batman

He was the best part of the last flick and I can't wait for his solo Batman adventure. It was the right part at the right age and time for Affleck. Outside of Gadot's DIana Prince, Affleck is the most assured in his role and doesn't feel like a gimmick. He's a older, moody, and reckless crimefighter who only has a few more rounds left in him, and Affleck plays that to the tilt. He gets a lot of screen time, and that's a good thing.

Gadot's Wonder Woman

She's just a pleasure to watch, even if she doesn't get anything close to the spectrum of character growth in her solo film. She is the only woman who could perfectly tap into this character's mindset.

The humor

My gosh, there are a few laughs in a Snyder flick. The superheroes poke fun at each other and there are some cool moments. Batman's lack of superpower is addressed in a few scenes and his wealth creates a couple laughs.

One of the fights

Let's just say there's a knockdown drag out fight between a mystery guest (whom I'm sure you can figure out) and the rest of the heroes. It's funny, relentless, and the best fight in the movie.

The running time!

Thankfully, this movie isn't 155 minutes long.

Henry Cavill's Superman

No, this is not a spoiler. You know he was going to show up and is listed in the cast. Let's just say Cavill is in on the joke finally and lightens up. I don't think he could stop smiling in his scenes. Very funny stuff.

The Bad Parts

Jason Momoa's Aquaman and Ray Fisher's Cyborg

They are cool to look at and have some fine moments, but their characters are painfully underdeveloped. I'm sorry, but being blown up and put back together wrong by dad (Joe Morton) isn't something fresh and new. Momoa has the swagger of a battleship, but is fed some really bad lines.

Ezra Miller's Flash

The actor has been great before (Perks of Being a Wallflower, Trainwreck), but I didn't like his take on Barry Allen. Billy Crudup shows up as his dad in a couple scenes and it's sweet for a minute, but overall, I found Miller's hero to be way behind the others. Maybe I'm being too harsh.

Ciaran Hinds' Steppenwolf

The villain's plan of world domination is recycled, but mostly, having one big villain just kind of gets in the way of the heroes actually gelling. I liked this dude better when David Thewlis played him in Wonder Woman. Here, Hinds shouts and whines like a bad guy must do, but it doesn't help the film.

The Ugly Parts

J.K. Simmons' Jim Gordon

With no offense to the talented actor, he feels tacked on here and the bad hairpiece doesn't help matters. Gary Oldman really thrived in Nolan's films, so seeing Simmons pop just feels like bad fluff. While it's not as strong, I have the same problem with Jeremy Irons' Alfred.

Mostly, the fights

How many times can you see an incredibly strong person punch another incredibly strong person? Except for one fight, it got repetitive.

Look, I didn't hate the movie. In the end, it didn't stink and when I left my seat, I wasn't mad and I didn't feel like my time was stolen. However, with the stakes this film was facing — it is the big team-up flick after all — I expected to wake up today and feel a lot stronger about the characters and the movie. Sometimes, after a day of marinating, a movie can appear not as good as it did when you left.

Justice League has the look and action of a superhero flick, but there's not enough substance. I wouldn't have been sad if one of the main characters died in an explosion because they weren't developed enough. Maybe Christopher Nolan and Patty Jenkins know something that others don't about DC heroes, or it may just be harder to translate to film than Marvel. And yes, the comparisons will always be there. These are superheroes waging war on the same screens for the same cash and time. Outside of Wonder Woman, the Marvel Universe is so far ahead.

I was talking with a fellow film buff today about the film and we admitted how much we re-watched the Marvel movies, but not the DC films. There's two simple reason: you care about the characters and they have style and substance.

Take Spider Man: Homecoming for example. I care deeply about what happened to Tom Holland's hero and loved that Michael Keaton's adversary wasn't just being bad to be bad. There was depth behind the hero and the villain. Two mythologies and backgrounds colliding.

Justice League's villain wasn't good and the heroes weren't layered enough to care. The film's message is simple: if the world is in trouble, superheroes have to play nice together in order to save it.

Justice League isn't a bad way to spend two hours, but it isn't great either. It's entertaining, fun and will make you laugh a bit. Just don't go in expecting something amazing. You'll be disappointed.

It's like going to a diner for a meal. You shouldn't expect a knockout meal or something to write home about; just a digestible plate of food that's tasty, if not memorable.

That's Justice League in a nutshell.

*There are TWO extra scenes in the credits, so stick around. One of them is silly, and the other is pretty good.

**Do you have questions? Want to talk to the critic? Email me at buffa82@gmail.com. I don't bite, unless you have good coffee that you aren't sharing.

Before You Leave, Check This Out