Plot: What’s it about?
“Is it me, or does this movie seem a bit…disjointed?”
Those words were uttered from my wife about 45 minutes into Justice League. And, to be truthful, that’s a good way of describing this film. I’ll try to not rehash the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe versus the emerging DC Cinematic Universe. One is superior to the other and I don’t think I need to spell it out. The MCU started in 2008 and is only now reaching its pinnacle considering the overall story arc (individual movies not withstanding). DC wanted in on this and has their own arsenal of superheroes. DC, being the “older” comic market, has had movies for quite some time – namely Superman and Batman with each being done time and again. 2017’s Wonder Woman was a hit both critically and commercially, so it was with baited breath that Justice League finally united Batman, Wonder Woman and others in the DC version of The Avengers. Was it worth the wait? Should they have waited longer? Let’s see if we can get some answers to those questions.
The film takes place after the events of Batman vs. Superman (obviously). The world is learning to cope with the loss of Superman (Henry Cavill) and the burden of, oh…humanity now falls on Batman (Ben Affleck). The world has been invaded by a demon-like creature who goes by the name Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). He’s in search of three infinity stones cubes that, when combined, will give him the power to destroy the world. That’s not good. Affleck is “getting the band together” if you will and manages to recruit Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). They, of course, fail. We all know that the man of steel is the only being who can truly stop this from happening, so the question becomes “How do we bring Superman back to life?” You think they’ll figure out how? Can the DC universe really exist in a world without Superman? Right.
I try not to dog too many films and, in truth, Justice League wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. But the MCU has set the bar so high with energetic and entertaining films, we expect the same level from the DC side of things. That just wasn’t the case here. The shining moment(s) were the film’s comic relief, played to a tee by Ezra Miller as Barry Allen’s Flash. And no, it’s not Miller who stars in the CW television show. If he did, I’d watch. We’ve seen Cavill as Superman for years, and after finally letting Christian Bale as Batman go, we’re now treated to a second film with Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight. Will it ever end? There seems to be a fundamental lack of focus here, and the “villain” isn’t really that intimidating. But I suppose if you can check your brain at the door and just enjoy seeing Wonder Woman kick some ass, it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. As for the future of the DCU, well…
Video: How’s it look?
There’s a lot going on visually. Almost too much. I think that might be part of the problem. The film seems like a series of battle scenes which, to the filmmaker’s credit, do deliver, but they also don’t segue the movie in the right direction. That said, the 1.85:1 HEVC 4K image is just about as pretty as it gets. The little lightning flashes when Flash does his thing, the legions of Amazonian warriors charging into battle and the perpetual five o’clock shadow from Ben Affleck’s Batman – it’s all razor sharp. The HDR adds a new layer of color depth when compared to the Blu-ray and there’s no shortage of all things beautiful (male and female) when it comes to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman or Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. All the boxes are checked here. It’s beautiful.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Anything less than a Dolby Atmos mix would not be tolerated. But, thankfully, the Ultra HD version contains said mix and it delivers through every channel, LFE or otherwise. Vocals are pure and rich, when Affleck dons his cowl his voices seems to boom through the speaker. Steppenwolf’s path of destruction leaves little to the imagination and since I must mention The Flash whenever possible, when he runs – it sounds beautiful. As I so often say, I could go on, but this is audio perfection. Enjoy.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There are a variety of versions that you can watch (or experience, as Warner would say). There’s a DVD, Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and the version reviewed here, the 4K. That said, here’s what to expect in the supplemental department.
- Road to Justice – Journey alongside DC comic creators as they explore over fifty years of the JusticeLeague, from comic books to animated adventures to their cinematic debut.
- Heart of Justice – Discover the heart, soul and mind of the JusticeLeague, as the cast and filmmakers share their admiration for DC’s iconic Trinity: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
- Technology of the JusticeLeague -From Batman’s arsenal to Cyborg’s alien tech, interface with the Justice League database to learn their most advanced secrets.
- Justice League: The New Heroes – Join Ray Fisher on a personal tour to meet the newest members of the Justice League: Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg.
- The Return of Superman – Bonus scenes not seen in theaters
- Steppenwolf the Conqueror – Join actor Ciarán Hinds and the filmmakers as they reveal the story behind mankind’s ancient enemy and the Justice League’s greatest challenge.
- Scene Studies – Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences. Four are profiled.
- Revisiting the Amazons
- Wonder Woman’s Rescue
- Heroes Park
- The Tunnel Battle
- The Look of the League – Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson explores the innovation and artistry that goes into creating the costumes of DC’s iconic heroes.
The Bottom Line
The Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s not. However as faulted as this film is, it does have some redeeming qualities – namely Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen (The Flash). I highly doubt that the DC Universe will ever reach the pinnacle of success that the MCU has, but only time will tell. Fans clamoring for more Wonder Woman will be rewarded. And look for solo adventures coming as well. On a technical level, the disc delivers but ultimately it’s all about the story. Is it for you? If so, then there’s not reason not to pick this up. If you’re a MCU fan, you’ve got no shortage of selections.