So the long gestating and after many false starts much postponed DC version of The Avengers , Justice League is finally here, once again under the tutelage of writer-director Zack Snyder. So with Superman absent due to SPOILER ALERT him being dead, Batman along with new best friend Wonder Woman soon realise that the world is about to suffer a major invasion and ultimate destruction at the hands of a fearsome god called Steppenwolf. Anyone expecting Steppenwolf to be the embodiment of a Canadian rock supergroup bursting into an all new version of ‘Born to be Wild’ will be sadly disappointed as, voiced by Ciaran Hinds and embodied by a load of pixels from various special effects houses, he is a wannabe god of destruction who is after three boxes which will give the ultimate power to lay waster to whole worlds.
It’s the usual underwhelming story of super powerful villains laying waste to all and sundry with our superheroes doing their best to prevent him and in that respect Batman has to get the gang back together or in this case, together for the first time, so understandably each has to be introduced with their own back story briefly visited before we get their inevitable standalone films over the coming 18 months. Wonder Woman has a particularly brutal re-introduction as she prevents an anonymous villain slaughtering a group of school children on a day visit to London’s High Courts. The sequence does serve as a reminder as to just how much Zack Snyder loves his slow motion shots which recurs again and again throughout the films many big bombastic set pieces.
Snyder’s previous Batman v Superman was rightly maligned for being a bloated downbeat dirge in darkness and it’s not altogether different here because most of this is still pretty gloomily shot in darkness though its running time has been trimmed down to two hours which it just about sustains without sagging. Ben Affleck’s Batman is still a man driven to save Gotham and in turn Earth itself despite the cape and cowl seemingly reducing his voice to a rasping growl. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman who struts around like a Muscle Mary male model but shows promise in what we can look forward to with next year’s standalone film, Ray Fisher as Cyborg is seriously sombre throughout and is dull because of it whereas Ezra Miller as The Flash is much needed comic relief with just about every line being a quip or smart comment and with Zack Snyder having left the production due to a family tragedy it’s clear that as Joss Whedon, who took over the directorial reins, has had a significant input into the lightening of mood. It’s Gal Gadot who proves once again how well suited she is to the role and how good her standalone film was with a major sequence relocating to her island of fellow super heroines.
In many ways the League are something of a family with Batman and Wonder Woman as the Mum and Dad to a moody teenager Cyborg ,a jokey younger brother Flash and their rock n roll favourite Uncle Aquaman. With Superman absent from nearly all of the promotions it’s the souped up super fans who know if the Man of Steel could ever somehow be part of the League.
Justice League is a step in the right direction after Batman v Superman although some roles are almost superfluous with Amy Adams, who was so good in last years Arrival & Nocturnal Animals, is once again wasted as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons as manservant Alfred dressed like a veteran member of the paramilitary arm of the British Butler association and a Steppenwolf ,a villain who is never destined to be in the same league as The Joker.
Inevitably in what is now a tradition there are two credit sequences the first of which is jokey and the very last which is one of the better ones that we’ve seen from DC which points to a very interesting direction for a sequel with the first glimpse of one particular super villain.
It’s almost obligatory for fans with micro knowledge of the comic script to be disappointed with any film version but for the rest of us, though it’s not perfect it’s not bad either.
Here’s the trailer…….