It has been an undisclosed amount of time since the death of Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the world is mourning.
Crime and xenophobia is rife in Gotham and Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) has emerged from the uncertainty and fear in his quest to shape the world in his image with devastating effects.
In order to restore order to this world and vanquish the dastardly Steppenwolf, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) seeks to bring together Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa) and Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) to form the Justice League, DC’s resident superhero squad.
The strength in this film lies in the characterisation of our heroes. Gal Gadot is once again incredibly likeable in the role of Wonder Woman, while also feeling somewhat reserved when compared to her own solo outing. Ben Affleck is good as Batman and Bruce Wayne while also coming across as a bit bored at times.
Elsewhere, Ray Miller humanises Cyborg admirably and Jason Mamoa elevates a traditionally lame-duck character in Aquaman to a total badass, despite not having as prominent a role in the main narrative as promotional material suggested.
However, the star of the show is The Flash. Ezra Miller is terrific in the role of the superhero-in-training comic relief. Every scene is instantly more exciting when The Flash is on screen.
Individually, each of our heroes are good, but together they are great. The film is at its best when the characters are interacting. The chemistry between the actors and the witty dialogue lends itself to an instantly enticing team-up on screen.
All of this is not to say that this film does not have its issues. The troubled production of this film is well-documented, with the early cut of the film having been deemed “unwatchable”, while Zack Snyder had to step away from the directorial chair after his daughter tragically died.
Joss Whedon was brought in for reshoots, which are evident in the notable tonal shifts between the first and second half of the film. The first half of the film is very much doom and gloom and straight out of Zack Snyder’s playbook as the world our heroes live in post-death of Superman is established.
The second half, when our heroes team up and begin exchanging witty banter, is far more light-hearted and is reminiscent of Whedon’s work on Avengers: Age of Ultron.
These shifts in tone and direction can come across as rather jarring at times and gives the film a “tale of two halves” feel.
The biggest issue with the film comes from its sketchy special effects. The CGI is very unconvincing at times, with Steppenwolf being particularly hokey-looking, while Cyborg’s CGI-based appearance seems unfinished.
Some of the fight scenes come across abundantly clear as having been produced on a computer screen. For a film that cost $300m to make, one would expect a more refined aesthetic.
However, despite all of this, seeing all of these iconic heroes together on screen is tremendous fun and some of the action sequences are very good, especially in the second half of the film.
While not in anyway perfect or even the strongest film in the DCEU (that honour still belongs to Wonder Woman), Justice League is an enjoyable superhero team up film which bodes well for the future of the cinematic universe experiment.