JUSTICE LEAGUE GOES KAPOW!
Thrills, but also a few spills, in ‘League’
THERE’S AS much that goes “Kersplat!” as “Kapow!” in “Justice League.”
If the superhero teamup flick is meant to catch the DC Cinematic Universe up to archrival Marvel, which has enjoyed a huge head start in a crowded genre, then director Zack Snyder and sidekick Joss Whedon have only partially succeeded.
Geeks finally get their first chance to see Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) get busy on screen Friday with other iconic superheroes from the venerable comic publisher.
But unlike the first “Avengers,” which came after solo Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk movies, fans had almost no chance to get to know or care about most of these Justice Leaguers before this installment. Moviegoers are introduced to the likes of the promising Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the brooding Cyborg (Ray Fisher) too quickly and briefly. The same goes for fleeting cameos last year in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Ezra Miller’s bumbling version of the Flash is far inferior to the version fans can see on TV every Tuesday night.
So, it’s up to Wonder Woman again to save the day. And Gadot’s Amazon warrior does just that in every scene she steals as the conscience and muscle of the group. The biggest surprise, though, is that Affleck has found his Batgroove after the disappointing “Batman v. Superman” by adding a dollop of humor and charisma to his gruff portrayal. But don’t get attached. He’s already being phased out of a shared cinematic universe that’s short on continuity.
The supporting cast may not be superpowered, but the formidable Amy Adams and J.K. Simmons help ground the film.
The most dastardly aspect surrounding the movie’s central villain, Steppenwolf, is that Ciaran Hinds, the brilliant actor who plays the would-be world conqueror, is rendered unrecognizable. Bland, too, under all those layers of CGI. “Justice League” manages to have moments of fun, perhaps buoyed by one of the best dialogue writers in the genre — Whedon, who took over reshoots and postproduction after Snyder stepped down to deal with a family tragedy.
Fans of Snyder’s patented slow-motion action sequences shouldn’t fret, there are plenty of those, too.
There are enough positives that “Justice League” shouldn’t be dismissed as Flash over substance. It’s just that with the rich history of these iconic heroes on the printed page, the film should have felt more . . . super.
Ezra Miller (left) isn’t quite up to speed as a fumbling Flash, but Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot do super star turns as Batman and Wonder Woman in “Justice League.” Jason Momoa (inset above) and Ray Fisher (inset top right) did cameos as Aquaman and Cyborg.