JUS­TICE LEAGUE GOES KAPOW!

Thrills, but also a few spills, in ‘League’

New York Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY ETHAN SACKS NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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.

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