My review of the Justice League movie is going to have a few spoilers below. Be warned. Proceed at your own risk. All that good stuff.
The world was in a dark place at the end of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s still there as Justice League starts, showing a lot of public mourning for the Man of Steel’s passing. Things are bad from street crime to things like farm foreclosures. They do establishing sequences showing both Batman and Wonder Woman in solo action. Batman is dealing with the looming threat that’s coming, while Wonder Woman is a hero, protecting the innocent on her own. Both get a nice boost from their own themes from earlier movies, and the action is great.
After an ugly scene on Themyscira that shows the new bad guy, Steppenwolf, and how amazingly powerful he is, Diana gets a warning she can’t ignore. She and Bruce meet up to discuss what’s coming and what they need, including new allies and clues to what the bad guys are looking for. After a bit of solo time for the new recruits, Bruce is less than successful with Aquaman, but does well with this version of Barry Allen. Diana has mixed results with the other recruit. One of the team has another solo clash with the big bad, and it doesn’t go well at all. This guy is amazingly powerful.
Diana tells the story of Steppenwolf’s first visit to Earth, and the epic fight to take him down. After getting some clues from an ally, the group clashes with Steppenwolf, and we see how powerful he is. He’s determined to complete his quest, and the assembled heroes just aren’t going to be able to stop him. Batman concocts a desperate plan that divides the team. It’s a real longshot with some serious consequences if he ends up being wrong. It goes badly and the team gets help from an unexpected place. Well, unexpected by most. Batman has no powers, but he has plans.
Finally, more or less on the same page, the team goes for their final fight with Steppenwolf. It’s a big, ugly clash with some really serious high-end fighting and teamwork. It’s high-stakes, winner takes all, and the team finally gets some help. Making up for where so many people said Man of Steel failed (me among them), the team spends a good bit of time saving the civilians caught in the fallout of this big fight. Finally, the team pulls off a win. After they defeat Steppenwolf, there are later scenes showing them building for the future with, as a few of them say, “room for more.”
What I liked: It was great seeing these major heroes together. Aquaman was treated like the powerhouse comic readers know he is, not the joke most who don’t read them think. They did several callbacks to some classic moments from various comics, but you don’t need to have read them to get the scenes. Batman was shown as a determined man with no powers who is out of his league (no pun intended) but both knows it and keeps going anyway. I liked the “room for more” reference to hopefully building the team. They actually figured out they could use humor in a superhero movie.
What I didn’t: This Flash isn’t a rookie, he’s borderline incompetent, with an ugly costume that lets him leave fingerprints everywhere. So why wear a mask? As I was worried about, where Marvel took time to build their characters, this was an origin for both the team and many of the characters. It was shoehorning in a bit too much. Aside from that most of what I didn’t like is personal taste: to me, Cyborg belongs in the Teen Titans, not the Justice League. I loathe the revised Barry Allen backstory as of a few years ago they’re using in the comics, tv show, and now movie. Some of the CGI scenes looked like there were a scene from a video game. Why did everyone leave the Mother Box unattended so Steppenwolf could run off with it? As seems to be the case more and more, lots of scenes from the trailers didn’t make it into the movie, somehow.
Cameos: A red-haired queen of Atlantis. A police commissioner with a very big light. A member of an intergalactic police force known for their jewelry. A detective who has a date with judgement and wrath.
This isn’t quite as good as Wonder Woman was, but is a lot better than the recent DC movies besides hers. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5.