Justice League ★★

Marginally entertaining as a spectacle but devoid of any and all human emotion and surprisingly poorly written.

The problems of the genre aren't helped by the addition of three essentially new characters, none of whom add add much to the emotional or thematic heft of the story. I've always liked DC characters more than Marvel characters, but DC is *still* playing catch-up, so what should play out over movies (Barry's fear to enter the fray) gets compressed into scenes and what should be whole scenes gets merely gestured at with off-hand dialogue.

As with Batman v. Superman -- a movie I ultimately liked better -- there is one big idea: what it means to be human in a world filled with those who have god-like powers and abilities. But Zach Snyder's story and the script (with a little help from Joss Whedon) doesn't really know what to do with that theme. Even Batman, the consummate uncowed human who walks with gods is diminished in the service of a story about how humans are hopelessly hopeless when they lose hope.

Not surprisingly the best moments come from the veterans. Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and Bruce grimace about how the world is changing to point one can almost be nostalgic for the days of exploding penguins. Diana witnesses bruises on the back of Batman and realizes that for all his external bravado, he is not invulnerable. But ever since comic book movies took on apocalyptic storylines (Age of Ultron, Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy all seem to be about not just the end of the world but the end of all life) they have become even less suspenseful and more dull. Raise your hand if you think any movie is going to end with an ancient evil turning the universe into his own private hellscape.

I don't mind fantasy movies that suspend disbelief, but the laws of physics seems to come and go. At one moment Wonder Woman appears to have super speed -- when did that happen? -- the next she appears to be impervious to physical blows. (I've never understood how flesh and bone can break concrete even if it is thrown at very high speed.) That may seem like a nitpick, but its indicative of the sort of lazy writing that permeates the genre. What are the limitations of character and circumstance? When the rules of one's fantasy world and characters aren't clearly defined, every movie becomes one prolonged maguffin chase.

Maybe this movie tanks and they let Patty Jenkins direct Justice League 2. Maybe it makes a gazillion dollars and we have to wait until Amy Adams gets bored of being a Greek chorus. Does anyone want to see a Cyborg movie, because I sure don't. And if I'm honest, I'd rather see a Khal Drogo prequel than another two hours of underwater trident throwing. Not that Aquaman couldn't support a movie of his own, but as long as it's all action, all these movies will be the same regardless of which character's name is in the title.

Oh, and did I see King Leonidas in one flashback sequence? Because if I did, I'm taking back another half a star.