“Justice League,” directed by Zack Snyder is the fifth movie of the DC Comics film franchise and the direct sequel to “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” The film stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as the Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ray Fisher as Cyborg, along with several others.
It’s nearly impossible to talk about this movie without touching on the chaos behind its production. The film went into production before its predecessor, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” was released last year and was meant to fit that aesthetic and tone. After a very negative response to the first film, Warner Bros. decided to change a lot of “Justice League” very late in the process, especially after the financial and critical success of “Wonder Woman” in June.
These production woes were made infinitely worse when Snyder and his family suffered a tragedy in March. Snyder’s daughter, Autumn Snyder, committed suicide, and despite trying to continue his work on the film, he ultimately decided to step aside to be with his family. “I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter in May.
In order to keep the film on track for its release date, Warner Bros. brought in “Avengers” director Joss Whedon to finish directing the film and direct a series of extensive re-shoots that happened just a few months before the film’s release. The reason it’s necessary to mention all of the changes and tragedies that happened behind the scenes is because they have left a very noticeable mark on the finished product.
While Warner Bros. and Whedon maintain that the final cut of the movie is still Snyder’s vision, it’s very clear that this film was put together by two people with very different styles. For a movie with a rumored budget of $300 million, some of the green screening, CGI and costumes are tough to look at, which is hard to imagine from a movie with this much financial support behind it.
The film was also originally set to be nearly 160 minutes long, which would be more in line with Snyder’s previous DC films. In the post-production process, Warner Bros. mandated that the film be no longer than 120 minutes, leaving the final cut feeling hollow and incomplete. The action scenes are entertaining while they’re happening, but the lack-luster villain, Steppenwolf, makes it hard to care about the plot outside of those action beats. Steppenwolf is also a villain in the movie purely for the sake of setting up a bigger villain for later movies, which unfortunately may no longer be happening, which makes his character less interesting than it already was.
The stand out amongst the cast is Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who continues to be the best character the DC movies has and is great in the time she gets, but the film has to cover so much ground so quickly due to the editing that none of the characters get a chance to breathe.
Overall, it may be a miracle that “Justice League” comes out as good as it is when you consider the chaos that was going on behind the scenes. If you’ve been a big fan of the first wave of DC movies you will probably find enjoyment in “Justice League,” but if you were on the fence about the DC movies, this one isn’t going to pull you to the positive side.
Griffin’s score: 2/5 stars
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