DC is dead. The current "DC Extended Universe" slate of films, anyway. Justice League, the film that the last four films in this series have supposedly being building up to has so many things wrong with it that it'll be difficult going over all of them in this spoiler-free review, but I'm going to try. Keep in mind, too, that I loved Zack Snyder's controversial Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition) and Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, so you'll no anti-DC bias here. I will admit I do not like David Ayer's Suicide Squad, but I would watch that ten times over before watching Justice League again. This is going to be long and harsh, so buckle up.
Let's start with one of, if not the most glaring issue with the film - the terrible CGI. All of the past installments in the DCEU have had either fantastic or acceptable CGI, but Justice League's was simply inexcusable. In this day and age characters should not look like they've been ripped out of video games, and you shouldn't be able to tell that backgrounds are digitally generated. Justice League featured way too many of both scenarios. As bad as the completely-CGI villain looked, however, the terrible use of CGI on Henry Cavill's face was arguably more distracting. Cavill was in the process of shooting the currently untitled Mission Impossible 6 and had to grow a full mustache for the film, which he wasn't allowed to shave off for his Justice League reshoots. The result was the worst-looking CGI face/mouth I have ever seen. How hard would it have been to just let Cavill shave and give him a fake mustache for Mission Impossible 6? Very hard, apparently, because they didn't do that. And they should have.
Since we're talking about Henry Cavill, let's talk about the cast and their portrayals of these iconic characters. We can just skip right over Henry Cavill's Superman, because once again he is given virtually nothing to do. He barely even speaks. As for Ben Affleck's Batman, he's...weird. He doesn't feel like the same character we saw in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While some might argue the change is part of his character arc, I would disagree. The alterations felt forced and were too drastic to be attributed to natural progression. It felt like for much of the film, Batman was more concerned with theatricality than actually doing Batman-things. It may have worked for Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, but it definitely doesn't work here. Jason Momoa's Aquaman is another weird character. His tone was constantly shifting back and forth between serious and humorous, and again - it didn't really work. Not to mention that he would feel one way about something in one scene and then exactly the opposite in the next. I suppose that's better than expressing absolutely no emotion at all, save for one quick scene, like Ray Fischer's Cyborg. For someone who seemed so excited to be a part of the film in all of his interviews, Fischer seemed miserable throughout the entire movie. Again, some will say that was part of his character arc, and again I would argue that it was just too much. Moving on to Ezra Miller's Flash, he was okay at first, but got more annoying as the movie went on. A few of his lines and the way Miller delivered them garnered a few laughs from me, but they we're pretty weak. There was one touching moment between the Flash and Batman, but other than that, every one of these heroes was lackluster. It might seem like I'm being terribly harsh on these guys, but at least we have Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. I wish I could say that she is the saving grace of this movie, because once again Gadot is great in her role, but not even she could save the world from this disaster of a film.
As for the antagonist, Steppenwolf, he too was just bad. As I mentioned before, his totally-CGI design was atrocious and distracting, and his motivations were barely any better. In certain ways he seemed like a religious zealot, which could have been very interesting if any of the nonsense coming out of his plastic-looking mouth made any sense at all.
As for the way the plot was handled and showcased - it was all over the place. Scenes cut back and forth between one another as if the movie was trying to say "this happened, and then this happened, and then this." There was no natural flow between scenes, and it really hurt the presentation of the story, which itself was rushed and underwhelming. Certain fans might argue against comparing the DCEU to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but recognizing why one consistently works while the other doesn't is important to properly understand the genre. That being said, whereas the MCU took its time to set up each major player before bringing them together in 2012's The Avengers, the DCEU doesn't do that. Justice League introduces us to way too many major characters without devoting an appropriate amount of time to get to know them beforehand. I know origin stories as sometimes considered boring in the superhero genre, but Justice League's failure illustrates why having them is so important.
Since I've now brought up The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon, let's take a moment to talk about the director(s) for Justice League. Principal photography was done by Zack Snyder, who later stepped down for personal reasons, and handed the reigns over to Joss Whedon to finish the film. This is where I think the film's production probably began to take a nosedive. While I enjoyed both Avengers films, I am not a Joss Whedon fan. The dialogue he writes and situations he puts characters in are cringe-worthy, and he sets up shots that look like they belong on cheap television shows instead of multi-million dollar movies. Both of these issues are widespread across Justice League, and I have to assume that those issues are the result of Joss Whedon being brought in. Whedon even replaced the film's composer, Junkie XL (who worked with Hans Zimmer on previous DCEU installments) with Danny Elfman, and again, the movie suffered immensely because of it. Music is one of the most important parts of a film, and should be easily recognizable outside of the cinema. Whereas previous DCEU films featured epic, emotional scores, Elfman created a lackluster score for Justice League featuring a distracting array of sounds from random instruments that seemed to come out of nowhere. It was truly disappointing. Ultimately I can't help but wonder what the film would have been like if Snyder had finished it on his own, edited in the same way he edits the rest of his films, and featuring his regular DCEU composers. I understand why he stepped down, but Joss Whedon should not have been the person chosen to finish the film.
At this point I feel like I've gone on long enough with this review, so I'll wrap things up. I wanted to love this movie, and I wish I could say "go watch this film and develop your own opinions on it," but I can't, in good conscience, advise you to do that. Don't waste your money on this film.
Completely devoid of any emotional weight and the epic moments you'd expect from a movie featuring the world's most recognizable heroes, and filled to the brim with inexcusable issues, Justice League fails on every level. Justice League is just bad.