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Vague characters contribute confusion to messy ‘Justice League’

The D.C. cinematic universe films (aside from "Wonder Woman") hold up for a very short time. They appear good – or at least entertaining – at first, but when they’re actually thought about in any real capacity, they tend to wither under the lights.

"Batman v. Superman" is overstuffed, confused and tries to rely on fans’ knowledge of the characters and plot points instead of actually explaining them. In short, it’s a below average movie with a few really good scenes.

"Suicide Squad" is a similar story. Although fun, the film feels rushed and does not encourage the audience to care about any of it’s characters (especially Jared Leto’s terrible Joker) simply because there are too many of them, and we are given little to nothing about who they are as people.

How is this relevant to D.C.’s newest attempt, "Justice League"? Although there are things to like, this film suffers from exactly the same problems.

The film opens with a montage highlighting how people have no hope (spoiler for "Batman v. Superman") following Superman’s untimely death. It does an adequate job displaying what Superman meant to people, and how crime runs high in his absence. Watching this scene, in hindsight, proves frustrating – ironically, because I thought it was great. The emotional value it gets across is palpable, and it got my hopes up.

What elevated them further were the next two scenes. First, Ben Affleck’s Batman stops a cat burglar in a fashion that fans of Batman comics will be familiar with, but previous Affleck appearances lacked.

The other scene has to do with Wonder Woman stopping a bomb from going off in a London bank.

Both of these scenes do a good job at capturing what a day in the life of these superheroes is like in a way that hasn’t done before.

The actual plot begins when, after apprehending a criminal, Batman is attacked by a humanoid insect creature. Once he successfully restrains it, the creature explodes, leaving impressions of three mysterious square shapes in the wall behind it. Recognizing the symbols from Lex Luthor’s notes recovered from "Batman v. Superman", Batman starts to investigate their meaning.

Realizing that whatever the symbols mean, the appearance of the flying creature most likely means trouble on the horizon, Batman unsuccessfully attempts to enlist the help of Aquaman, a man who uses his ill-defined powers of water manipulation to help the citizens of a remote fishing village.

Then we are introduced to Barry Allen, who is able to run faster than the speed of light. His backstory is glanced over; the audience is left to just accept his powers as their origins are completely unexplained.

Nevertheless, we see Barry Allen coming home from visiting his father in prison, to find Batman waiting for him.

After little persuasion, Batman and Barry agree to work together.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Victor Stone, a recently deceased football player with robotic parts using the technology of General Zod’s ship from "Man of Steel."

Victor is, of course, ashamed of his new body, as he feels people won’t accept him for who he is anymore. This somber attitude is forced to change however, as Wonder Woman is able to successfully enlist his help.

With the Justice League team partially assembled, Wonder Woman gives one of the biggest dumps of blatant exposition I’ve ever seen. But before I explain that, how is the film so far? The answer is, very messy.

Following the strong opening 20 or so minutes, the film makes a huge and annoying shift in both tone and pacing. Many scenes feel like there are parts missing.

There is no denying that Steppenwolf is a terrible villain. He comes completely out of nowhere, his motivation is not explained at all, his design looks uninspired, his voice is generic, and he has no real personality aside from being evil. He just looks like a video game character, meaning it never feels like he really has any presence in his scenes. Like Joker, Doomsday, and Enchantress, he’s just another uninteresting villain for the D.C. Cinematic universe.

While Steppenwolf is busy disappearing until the end, Superman comes back to life, although I’m not going to spoil it by saying how.

His portrayal is finally in line with how he should be, and aside from an unnecessary fight scene right after his resurrection, his character is handled well for once.

What I still don’t like however, is his girlfriend, Lois. She is a pushover, and I wish she was more strong willed.

Taking everything here into account, this review is as overstuffed as the film. I would still recommend seeing "Justice League" for its few good points, but just be aware of what you’re getting into.

If you are looking to see a superhero film in theaters this week, you’d be much better off with "Thor: Ragnarok" than with this mess.

Quinn Zack is a junior at Hamburg High School.


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