What a difference a year and a bit can make.
First, Wonder Woman nicely rescued the DC Extended Universe from oblivion after last year’s dreadful Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad.
And now Justice League – however much of it is thanks to uncredited “finisher” Joss Whedon – is the kind of comics-to-movie effort that will probably make the uninitiated turn up their noses, but have fanboys smiling.
Yes, even cranky old fanboys like yours truly.
Was it the musical callbacks (Danny Elfman is on scoring duties) to 1989’s Batman movie and 1978’s classic Superman – The Movie that nicely rounded out the viewing experience for me?
Or was it the sight of a Green Lantern in a flashback sequence?
And maybe, the immortal Jack “King” Kirby’s ahead-of-its-time Fourth World saga finally getting some love on the big screen?
We may not know (for now at least) how much of it is Whedon’s doing – he was called in to finish the movie after Zack Snyder had to leave the production over a family tragedy – but the result, while not a truly great superhero film, still makes a solid addition to the ranks.
Since the trailers have more or less told us the entire story, just a quick summary then: An all-conquering alien being who was driven off millennia ago has returned to complete his conquest.
And the way looks wide open for him now that Earth’s greatest protector, Superman (Henry Cavill), lies dead.
Hey, why did I just credit the actor if Supes is dead? Because comics. Duh.
And so it is that the League must unite to save the world because, well, it’s not a solo job.
Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, ever the beacon) have to convince Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to join them to defeat Steppenwolf (the alien conqueror, not the Canadian rock band or the Herman Hesse novel).
There are numerous fan-pleasing bits throughout, and a surprising level of coherence for a film that reportedly went through extensive retooling in the editing and post-production phases.
Humour plays a significant part in the narrative; though at no time does anything descend to levels of parody.
A lot of it comes from Miller’s Barry Allen trying to change his asocial ways and play well with others, though some of the laughs come from unexpected quarters (check out Aquaman’s pre-battle speech, for one).
It’s the sort of humour that complements the flow, rather than interrupts it, and is sorely needed in the DCEU after the glum BvS and the ludicrous Suicide Squad.
As ever, Wonder Woman is the MVP here; not just as the symbol of hope her Amazonian origins intended her to be, but as a most worthy member of DC’s top trinity alongside Batman and Superman.
And speaking of those two, Justice League manages to satisfyingly patch things up between them after last year’s colossal misstep.
It also ties up and puts a cute little bow on that weird dream Batman had in BvS, and helps shed any potential baggage the DCEU may have had in going forward from here.
At a trim two-hour running time, Justice League has very little excess and things flow along at a generally fast clip with only one slow patch (you’ll know it when you come to it).
Characterisation also passes muster, giving viewers just enough to leave us suitably interested for the characters’ next solo instalments in the DCEU.
The relatively short screen time does leave it looking a little lightweight, but nothing about it made me grind my teeth or roll my eyes.
A Dawn of Justice was promised some time ago; now it has finally been delivered.
Catch this movie at Golden Screen Cinemas nationwide. Follow GSC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Connie Nielsen, Ciaran Hinds, Joe Morton, Amber Heard, Billy Crudup