Greg Eichelberger reviews "Justice League" (2017)

Greg Eichelberger
Staff Writer

The problem with viewing the first of what Warner Bros. hopes to be a successful series, the DC "Justice League" pictures, is that many people will automatically compare the superhero plots, action and direction to the numerous Marvel Studios' projects already out there. Following closely (some say "too" closely) the phenomenally successful "Wonder Woman," as well as the less successful "Man Of Steel" and "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice," here we get the three main Detective Comics characters plus three VERY minor heroes.
And that is strange, considering that Superman was featured in the first real superhero feature in 1978, while the Caped Crusader was the subject of one of the best ("The Dark Knight"). Since that time, though, the organization has been overwhelmed by such Marvel films as "Iron Man," "The Avengers," "Deadpool", "Thor," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Avengers," among others.
Today, even with such well-known characters and the worldwide popularity of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the movie seems to be a poor second cousin. As for this scribbler, I can only judge by what I see on the screen and NOT what I saw six months or six years ago. So, with that in mind, I will describe my experience at this week's preview of "Justice League."
The movie opens with demon-like alien beings visiting the earth and causing bald guys to yell at Muslims and kick over fruit stands. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck, "The Accountant") then captures one of these entities, who are attracted by fear. It soon explodes, but Wayne's faithful butler, Alfred (Jeremy Irons, "Assassin's Creed"), discovers that the aliens are looking for three "mother boxes," when found and joined, will usher in the end of the world โ€” for some reason.
Gathering these things is the evil, almost invincible Steppenwolf (NOT the 1960s rock band, but the horned-helmeted creature in charge of collecting his mom's knick-knack boxes).
With such knowledge, plus the fact that Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman (Jason Momoa, "The Bad Batch") are easily knocked around by Steppy, the Dark Knight realizes they need help, so two very minor characters are brought into the group. Enter two of the most useless superheroes imaginable, Victor Stone/Cyborg (basically a lightweight Iron Man clone played by Ray Fisher, as the robotic thing still waits for his feature film introduction in 2020) and Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller, "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them," "Suicide Squad"), the film's comic relief that plays like the angst-ridden teenage Spider-Man in the past three incarnations.
Meanwhile, Steppenwolf has found two of the three boxes, beating up Amazons and Aquaman's people, alike. Speaking of that latter guy, please bring back the original blonde character who rides a seahorse. Even that ridiculous scenario beats this depressing, morose, bearded behemoth who saves drowning fisherman and then gets drunk to celebrate (I will give him the credit for the movie's funniest moment, however, as he is a victim of Diane Prince's magic lasso).
Even this gaggle cannot defeat the bad guy/monster, though, so (no spoiler really needed), Superman, who died quicker than "Dawn Of Justice" did at the box office, is brought back to life (with the aid of a mother box, water and the Flash's quick thinking). A Justice League picture WITHOUT the Man of Steel? Really?!
And despite the fact that Steppenwolf has all three boxes, he suddenly loses his nerve and we are left with a fairly short and disappointing conclusion to wrap up a fairly short movie โ€” just 110 minutes โ€” quite a departure for pictures of this ilk.
Now, understand that the director, Zack Snyder (who made his debut with a remake of "Dawn Of the Dead" in 2004), lost his son during production, so as a parent I could never face that. Still, we have to judge this solely on artistic merit. I give this B for action, C for plot, D for its dialogue and special effects (which SHOULD have been a cinch for superhero epics), F for the villain and F- for the score (please compare to "Guardians Of the Galaxy," both versions).
Doing the math, these parts give a sum total of D, but since I was never very good at mathematics and we are, after all, approaching the Holiday season, I will be generous and give this slightly better than the aggregate.
Grade: C-