After 2016’s lengthy, dark and rather tedious Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice movie, hopes were not high for a follow-up that would introduce a few new faces (The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg) to the DC Comics movie universe. Then along came 2017’s terrific Wonder Woman and we dared to dream that Justice League might actually be good. So, is it?
Well, the good news is that it isn’t as bad – or as long – as Batman V Superman. The bad news is that it isn’t as great as Wonder Woman, either, thanks to a plodding start as Batman/Bruce Wayne (Affleck) assembles his avengers Aquaman (Momoa), speedy kid The Flash (Miller), half man/half robot Cyborg (Fisher) and Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gadot). Some tacky CGI effects and a head-scratching plot about an alien bloke named Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) whom they have to battle to save the planet don’t help much, either.
It seems some special boxes that were hidden have awoken (why? how? alas, the scriptwriters don’t tell us), and Steppenwolf and his flying skeletal pals plan to swoop down from somewhere or other to find them, stick them together and create something that is apparently very very Bad. It’s up to Batman to get a gang together to stop it, but once he has done that, he realises they also need the might of Superman (Cavill). Except he’s dead, which could be a bit of a problem.
You wonder why Batman and co are going to all this trouble to save humanity when the only humans we encounter are Lois Lane (Adams), Martha Kent (Diane Lane), butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Commissioner Gordon (JK Simmons) The Flash’s (Billy Crudup) and Cyborg’s (Joe Morton) dads and a random Russian family. Never mind, as at least the lack of human interaction means our heroes can get on with the business of sparring, fighting and even spouting the occasional funny one liner.
While this never reaches the boisterous heights of Marvel movies like Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians Of The Galaxy, there are some neat moments mainly thanks to Ezra Miller’s enjoyable turn as Barry Allen/The Flash. He, Gadot and Momoa (who doesn’t get to do much except wave a pitchfork about but grins while doing it) seem to have the most fun, which makes up for the fact that Affleck looks at the camera with the same pleading ‘get-me-out-of-here’ eyes that you would see on a toddler at a particularly awful kids play date.
One can’t help wondering whether Michael Keaton – still the best ever movie Batman (sorry, Christian Bale) – would have added some much needed spark to the role of the human whose only superhero talent is having money and some cool gadgets.
Find a better bad guy, DC Comics, get Keaton on board with his cape, and maybe Justice League 2 could be a winner.
The Justice League reviewed above was the 2017 version – directed by Zack Snyder, it was completed by Joss Whedon after Snyder had to leave the production for personal reasons. However, fans campaigned for the release of the ‘Snyder Cut’ – the movie how Snyder would have made it had he been able to complete it – and in March 2021 Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released.
This director’s cut of the movie features many differences to the 2017 theatrical release. It is four hours long, featuring new characters, back stories, additional scenes that had originally not been used in the earlier version, and some that were filmed in 2020. This new version of Justice League is regarded as an improvement on the 2017 release, although parents should note that due to some more violence and language, the US classification for the 2021 version is an R (the 2017 version is a PG-13) and the new UK classification is 15 (it was previously 12A).
Is Justice League suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a 12A certificate movie in the UK (PG-13 in the US for violence and action sequences) and is aimed at adults and older children. PLEASE NOTE that the 2021 version, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, contains more violence and has been rated R in the US and 15 in the UK.
Children under the age of 10 may find Steppenwolf and especially the flying creatures scary.
There are fight sequences throughout, but minimal signs of blood. One family is under attack by the aliens, which may frighten viewers under the age of 10.
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