Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face a new threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly-awakened enemy.

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Brendon’s Essay:

The justice league trailer delivers a familiar pretence to an upcoming superhero movie that we’ve come to expect in the age of marvel’s reign. In and of Itself, the trailer offers little in the way of surprises, dialogue, and any real story beats. Normally it can be said that trailers tend to offer too much insight into a movie and leave little to the imagination, however the original trailer has almost no comment on the meat of the movie. 

I would say the first trailer feels uninviting, relying on VFSX and big-name faces to deliver that ‘wow factor’. But as further trailers were released, it became apparent that the movie was shifting gears to tell a sort of alternate take on the movie, obviously due the tragedy surrounding director zack Snyder. As more and more information surfaced and more of the film’s footage was revealed, it seemed that with Joss Weadon stepping in to take over from Snyder, the film was suffering from a sort of identity crisis, and low and behold, that is exactly what was delivered.

Now I’m a sucker for a superhero in spandex, and an ensemble of kickass characters with crucial character flaws as much as the next guy, but Justice league seems to focus too much on the setup for its somewhat contained narrative, and offers little in the way of convincing and engaging characters. Controversially, I think Ben Affleck delivers a really good performance here, and potentially is my favourite of the film. His take on an aged Batman who is exhausted, but in some ways more mature than what we’ve come to expect is refreshing, especially as we see him take hits and dish out some hurt. He understands the wider stakes at play and what needs to be done, and does well as the team’s pseudo-leader. 

I think Gal Gadot continues to bring a breath of fresh air to DC’s ensemble of characters, providing a convincing performance and maintaining an extremely strong position as the team’s female lead. However, Gal seems to suffer from a lack of depth which I think stems from the writing. It’s this lack of depth and character exploration that is always tricky in these ensemble movies as we’ve seen in the past from Marvel, and as this is DC’s first real jump down that rabbit whole, I believe some leeway is fair. With that said, Flash and Cyborg both felt like fan-service additions, and more or less last-minute inclusions, as their characters were rather 2-dimensional, despite fairly decent performances. And don’t get me started on Cyborg’s CGI. Urgh. But we’ll come back to that. Unfortunately, Henry Cavil was not exempt from these issues, as this felt like his weakest outing in the DCEU. However, Henry is such a talent that he still gave us a good performance, even if it wasn’t as sound as Man of Steal or Batman Vs Superman.

The story itself is rather thin, as is usually the case with ensemble movies – it’s a lot to juggle after all. Steppenwholf is a cool concept and allows for an insight into the rich lore of DC, but this movie felt like it didn’t use this character to its fullest potential. He comes out the gates literally swinging and seems to be a seriously scary dude, but this quickly falls the wayside because of flimsy motivations and seriously repetitive encounters and dialogue. That’s not to say the movie was unenjoyable, in-fact it was a really fun movie to watch. Most of the action felt well-choreographed and lived up to each character’s strengths, whilst remaining fresh and interesting, and Justice League, despite it’s dark and gritty tones, delivered some well-timed humour and fun visuals. My main gripe is probably more of a stylistic one – and that’s the rather dark and claustrophobic colour palette that DC seems to be fond of. I love a dark and gritty movie, but that needs to be reflected in stylistic choices such as costumes, performances, dialogue and set, not purely delivered by an assault of ‘we’ll fix it in post’ editing choices. Unfortunately, one thing that was not fixed in post was Cyborg. Right from the first trailer we see some shonky CGI surrounding our half-machine friend, but this was expected to be fixed in the final cut of the film. It wasn’t. There are several moments where cyborg feels janky and unnatural, and where his proportions seems to change slightly. And to be honest, the same can be said for Steppenwholf. Unfortunately for me, this movie was seriously missed potential suffering from some writing issues, directorial differences, and some hazy VSFX, but that’s not to say it’s not worth a watch, because I think it is if you’re into fun superhero movies. Ultimately, I’d say this is one of the weakest entries in the DCEU, and for all these reasons, I’d have to give Justice League 2 green frogs.

Thank you to Matthew, Steve and Alex for including me in this weeks episode of Trailer Island!