remolano’s review published on Letterboxd:
We can talk about Amber Heard taking a shit on Johnny Depp’s bed or Ezra Miller choking a woman at a bar but what actually comes to detriment of the film was what happened before it.
I have my fair share of nitpicks with Snyder’s entries into the DCEU, with Man of Steel being characterizationally weak and Batman v Superman appearing bloated - in my opinion, but in both flicks one thing stayed consistent: a vision. The style is fully committed, allowing Snyder to really shape these films into his own. For that I’ll give him credit.
Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has taken that thing away from Justice League.
I can’t say and frankly don’t think this film’s failure is majorly Snyder’s fault quite obviously (we’ll see how the Snyder Cut turns out in contrary to this next year), but either way... we got what we got. Man of Steel and BvS had their flaws, and due to that every change made here in Justice League doesn’t feel like a characterized reaction to the films but a corporate reaction to the reception. Warner Bros. didn’t want to stick with their guns, and now they’re paying the price for it.
Justice League became a disappointment before its eventual objective flaws would be on display in front of us. The “Directed by Zack Snyder” subtitle didn’t really look comfortable in the opening credits.
With the critics’ perception of Snyder’s failures in place and the desperate “creators” looking to where the ratings seemed to be in favor, it’s simple: they pushed all the wrong buttons. There is no rulebook that says DC films aren’t allowed to be funny, lighthearted, or have even the slightest shimmer of happiness, but when it’s done to this level of spineless unjustification it clearly fails.
The tone comes completely out of left field. Attempting to “fix” the criticisms of the universe they simply changed rather than adapted. Batman is saying one-line quips now? I hate how simple that complaint is but if I were to ask “what happened to the gritty, disgruntled mood from BvS,” there would literally be no obvious reason besides what’s happening around the film and the industry it wants to be accepted by. I can understand that Batman’s inspiration is on a more positive side after learning from Superman’s death, but that simply doesn’t justify how they rewrote the tone at every step.
That’s the main thing that represents what doesn’t let the film work, even when it has parts that do.
The visuals are crisp albeit unmemorable. It doesn’t matter though since it feels so disconnected from the previous style. Plus, while the CGI was competent in other places it just fails to make Steppenwolf any less dull. As moments come and go, Justice League has some fun areas, however - as I said - its competence is challenged by how out of line the tone is. In a different universe, a number of things would work better. Of course, we are in the DCEU though. And past the way the writing makes everything misplaced scene-to-scene, its handling of the characters doesn’t help.
I could discuss the cringily awkward humor (not in a good way) but the journey leaves you empty on its own. Flash has problems with his father and not only is it not explored at all but none of it is utilized to create any sort of conflict or tension for his character. Have him more focused on trying to save his dad than saving the world before joining the team. I don’t know. Just something better than “I have no friends.” Also: the costume design done for the Flash’s suit and the CGI done for his running were awful.
Aquaman’s relationship with Atlantis could’ve been more clear-cut, Superman’s reintroduction could’ve had more impact, and of course Batman was completely mishandled. Really the entire screenplay could’ve been done better.
Overall, besides the idea that it struggles to be great in any department it’s passable. Or more accurately, watchable. The action is fine but pretty underwhelming when taking its choreography into consideration. The character arcs are half-baked but half-baked is still half. I’d say Justice League doesn’t really come close to going above and beyond, but it appears it doesn’t want to in the first place. After watching this, as this is the one DCEU film I’ve avoided for how tasteless the clips seemed, I can at least say it doesn’t stoop down to that of some atrocious moments in Suicide Squad. With the Snyder Cut upon the horizon its task feels more than daunting now though.
This could’ve been solid despite the creative decisions dragging it down. Even when it‘s just as empty and not as fist-pumpingly delightful as it wants to, I’ll take Man of Steel’s trueness to form over this any day.