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szdaily -> Movies
Justice League
    2017-November-24  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons Director: Zack Snyder

WARNER Bros. and DC are trying to launch their own Avengers-style supersized comic-book movie with “Justice League,” but whatever mild pleasure can be derived from seeing Batman and Wonder Woman team up with other costumed crime-fighters quickly dissipates as it becomes clear that director Zack Snyder has again crafted a clumsy blockbuster that dilutes what’s so stirring about these fabled fictional champions. Some of the performers, particularly Gal Gadot, breathe life into the perfunctory spectacle, but the studio still lags painfully behind Marvel in delivering superhero thrills.

Set a few months after “Batman v Superman,” which ended with the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), “Justice League” finds Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) recruiting Diana Prince (Gadot) to form an elite team of heroes who can combat a dangerous new intergalactic foe named Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds). Wayne’s search also leads him to Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

By the bombastic standards of Snyder’s previous DC films, “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” “Justice League” is a relatively modest affair — although it too is besieged with overblown CGI and leaden action sequences. Snyder had to step aside during post-production because of a family tragedy, tapping Joss Whedon (one of the movie’s credited screenwriters) to complete the film; while it’s impossible to know what changes Whedon brought to the material, the shorter running time and lack of chin-stroking ponderousness are a welcome relief.

With that said, however, “Justice League” remains a decidedly gloomy affair, continuing DC’s recent trend of embracing an oppressive darkness that has failed to translate into rich, nuanced drama. The film posits that Superman’s death has killed humanity’s hope, and Affleck’s monotone glumness serves as the film’s default tone. By comparison, Fisher, Miller and Momoa provide a little irreverence that’s meant to puncture the self-seriousness, to little effect.

Much more successful is Gadot, who isn’t given nearly as much room to operate as she did in this summer’s funny, stirring “Wonder Woman.” Almost alone in the DC cinematic universe, she manages to bring a sense of gravitas without losing her lightness — her Wonder Woman is a formidable warrior but also a pleasure to be around. Wonder Woman and Batman had a flirtatious rapport in “Batman v Superman,” and “Justice League” further hints at the possibility of romance between them, but Affleck’s grizzled, older Wayne fails to come to life around her, making the prospect of a future love story not exactly enticing.

The film also suffers because of its singularly tedious antagonist. By this point, it’s a cliché that almost all superhero movies involve the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, but in “Justice League,” Steppenwolf is so forgettable a foe with his generic menace that he creates a gaping hole at the film’s center. Presumably, this sidelining was intentional, so that more screen time could be devoted to our heroes getting to know one another. But by the time Snyder reaches the predictably protracted finale, character dynamics take a backseat to frenetic carnage.

The movie is now being screened in Shenzhen. (SD-Agencies)

 

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