If your expectations for any film are in the toilet, then the final delivery can always ultimately surprise you.  With reshoots, multiple writers, new stand in director, and just having the aura of the DC Universe on itself, Zack Snyder‘s “Justice League” proves itself to be a serviceable effort in the DCEU, showing that there could be light at the end of its dark tunnel.  Superseding the travesty of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” but not holding a candle to its earlier year efforts on “Wonder Woman,” the action-packed superhero film fits firmly in the middle of it all.  While the film is wildly uneven, it’s entertainment value can’t be ignored, featuring some very cool moments for the fanboys to enjoy.

Justice League” picks up right after the events of “BvS,” where Bruce Wayne/Batman (played by Ben Affleck), fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, enlists the help of his newfound alley, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot), to face an even greater enemy, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds).  Teamed with Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the heroes will band together to bring order to the world.

There’s going to be your traditional annoyances that have plagued not just the DECU, but most superhero movies in general.  The villain is as empty and as cartoony as they come.  Steppenwolf has little to no motivation besides our generic “I want to rule the world” subplot that has been available to us since the dawn of movie creation.

The opening frames of the film are some of the worst seen this year.  Talk about trying to make a bruting, super-seriously toned superhero movie, with an emo-like music track that becomes almost cringe-worthy.

JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)
(L-r)†EZRA MILLER as The Flash,†BEN AFFLECK as Batman and GAL GADOT as Wonder Woman
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/ ô & © DC Comics

Warner Bros. and the DECU have lost their messaging on what has constituted their “Phase 1” or where they are in the process.  Are we building to something bigger?  Is there something we should be looking forward to?  The Marvel Cinematic Universe established early on that we should be awaiting the coming of Thanos, no matter how many movies are delivered until that moment.  I’m still unsure about what they’re working with and starting with Steppenwolf was not the right play.

With all its imperfections on full display, the film’s moments of laughter and action are well worth the ticket.  I was most impressed by Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and Ezra Miller’s Flash, who both bring charisma to their roles.  As seen in “Wonder Woman,” Gal Gadot just sets the screen ablaze although, in all Zack Snyder-ism’s, she’s used as more eye-candy as the camera view chooses to fixate on her struts and tight clothing rather than the words that are coming out of her mouth.

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman seems to be a blend between Denzel Washington in “Training Day” and Mel Gibson in “Lethal Weapon,” just being reckless and cool, blended into one.  Too bad his CGI scenes under the water further the theory that his stand-alone movie will be cheesy to watch.

Affleck’s Batman just seems to be phoning it in at this point with his no power-having self-thrust into a fight against a demigod.  It seems foolish at some points.

And let’s just say, we know exactly where the reshoots came in as Henry Cavill’s face seems to morph at weird times making it look as if he received a bad batch of botox surgery when we know there’s a mustache that lies underneath.

Justice League” is practical in the DECU and is a step in the right direction for the studio.  With some more guidance and the absence of certain players behind the scenes that keep bogging it all down, perhaps this can grow into an enjoyable and well-regarded franchise.  Let’s see where they go from here.

“Justice League” is distributed by Warner Bros. and opens in theaters on Nov. 17.

GRADE: (★★½)

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