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‘Justice League:’ A Return to Superhero Standards Despite Awkward Editing

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Screenwriter Joss Whedon’s style is noticeable, and at a certain point you realize that you are watching a remake of “Avengers.” It is using some slight tweaks on the Marvel film formula, however, that “Justice League” somehow finds a way to be slightly better.

Still, if you are not a comic book movie fan, don’t get your hopes up. This film is a complete mess. It is within this mess, however, that we find something to hold onto: a fun, clumsy, and for a moment or two, even a tolerable, albeit dramatic, adventure. In other words, a true comic book movie.

The villain in this film, Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds), is not too layered as a character. He has been lying dormant on Earth waiting to attack it again after being defeated upon arrival.

Steppenwolf leads an army of parademons, like the same flying aliens from “Avengers” that were in Loki’s army, except they sense fear. The idea is that Steppenwolf chose to attack Earth now because Superman’s death had caused the world to be fearful.

You cannot help but wish they got more into Superman’s effect on society, but that is more a “Batman v Superman” problem. Anyway, Batman goes around the world, recruiting the film’s heroes one by one as time runs out to prevent Steppenwolf from gathering the three “mother boxes” to “form unity,” which we must assume means he will be super strong.

A huge horned creature with a mighty axe, he is powerful with god-like abilities similar to Superman. He is not an interesting character, but he does kick some ass.

The choice of Danny Elfman to compose over a more dramatic standard like Hans Zimmer perfectly symbolizes the dramatic shift in tone “Justice League” has brought to the DC universe. Clearly, they have left behind any of the Nolan-esque dark drama elements, which is oddly satisfying after the gloomy, overdramatic “Batman v Superman.”

Still, it shows that the serious superhero film is dead and the Marvel formula is the new standard. For the sake of film as an art, this is probably a bad thing in the long run, but for DC fans it will most likely be a long-awaited return to the fun simplicity you normally only find in the actual comics.

Like its sister film “Avengers,” there are many flaws. As per usual in this new DC universe, the editing is notably bad, with many awkward transitions. One scene is so completely incomprehensible that it’s difficult to know how to refer to it.

There was also the standard horribly cheesy dialogue, but at least it felt fitting. Perhaps the most noticeable flaw is the abuse of CGI, which was so great that I almost see this as an animated film, which once again is at least coherent with that comic book feeling.

Still, the photography was unimpressive and the graphics should have been way better, though both Superman and The Flash looked cool. The acting could have been worse, though none truly shine, except maybe Jeremy Irons’ Alfred and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane. Adams is unbelievably talented and had been an unexceptional Lane until now.

So, what makes Justice League better than “Avengers?” If “Avengers” is Dr. Pepper, “Justice League” is Mr. Pibb; essentially the same thing, but better. Some may call it a rip-off, and they would be correct, but that does not make it worse, especially since Marvel has been using the same simple movie formula for over a decade.

Here, the characters were also mostly likable, including the surprisingly charming young and awkward Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) as The Flash. Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo in “Game of Thrones”) also had some funny moments as Aquaman. “Justice League” has characters with some actual dimension, and it led to sustainable jargon among a believable team of superhumans.

The film is bittersweet. The over-dramatic tones of “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” has turned into an easier, occasional dramatic moment, which is much more believable.

DC has finally stopped trying too hard and just gave the real fans what they want: a comic book movie. Still, it seems this entire cinematic universe will be remembered as an obscure hiccup in movie history.

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