“Justice League” isn’t the biggest movie of the year, nor even of the holiday season. But it is a legitimate superhero blockbuster, and thus it’s one that a lot of kids will want to see. Truth be told I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Warner Bros./DC Comics adaptations, and superhero cinema in general is getting a little bit played out. However, these are still popular choices for families these days, and because the film will still be in plenty of theaters through the holidays, I thought I’d do a quick write-up on this latest effort from director Zack Snyder.
Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) displays a new faith in humanity following his encounters with Superman (Henry Cavill) in “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.” Newly inspired, he teams with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to unite a team of heroes that will become the Justice League and protect Earth from new and terrible evils. While the team faces down a specific and significant threat together, the primary function of the film is to bring the team together – the new additions being Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
GOOD FOR KIDS?
It’s difficult to label a film with an appropriate age limit, because parents handle these things in different ways. Speaking in very broad terms, however, I would suggest that “Justice League” is appropriate for children when it comes to adult subject matter, violence, etc. As one writer put it when diving into this topic, Snyder and Co. made an effort to pivot away from the brooding darkness of past Warner Bros./DC projects, and the result is a sillier movie. There are more jokes, and the stakes feel a little bit less frightening; the characters are more accessible and it’s generally a happier experience (more “Wonder Woman” than “Dawn Of Justice,” if you’ve been watching these films). I would add that there is still potential for the action in this movie to frighten some young children – but in terms of general subject matter, it’s fairly light and family-friendly.
WILL YOU GET IT?
Unfortunately, this is a valid question for just about any superhero movie these days, because there are just so many of them. You don’t always know if you’ll understand what’s going on without seeing previous films. In this case, DC has been making a major effort to make these characters familiar. “Dawn Of Justice” at least skimmed the surface of most of them to “introduce” them in some capacity. DC has also done very well with its “Injustice” video games featuring these and other heroes, and a game online featuring seven DC Comics characters focuses on the Justice League. This last game uses arcade-style graphics rather than film likenesses, but it’s nevertheless part of a larger effort to familiarize audiences with these heroes. Despite this effort, however, you’re pretty much okay starting from scratch. You’ll miss a few jokes and comments, but this is largely an introductory film anyway, so you w
on’t be too lost. Plus, “Dawn Of Justice” didn’t establish much chemistry between Superman and Batman to begin with.
So, is this superhero epic worth your time this holiday season? Honestly, I’m on the fence. On the one hand, it’s sort of fun getting to know the new characters, and watching the team come together is enjoyable. As respected critic Richard Roeper put it, “Justice League” cleverly assembles a superhuman fight club, and that’s the fun of it. Beyond this charming side of the movie, however, the story felt tedious. Snyder has a tendency to overlook storytelling and substance in favor of overblown action climaxes, and he’s done it again here to the detriment of his own project. All in all it’s slightly more fun than I expected, and if you’re a superhero family you should enjoy it. Otherwise, you might pick a different feature for your theater time.