Review: ‘Justice League’ an improvement for DC, still not the hero movie we need

After the painfully long slogs that “Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman,” and “Suicide Squad” proved to be, any new movies released by comics giant DC seemed to be deserving of dread.

Then “Wonder Woman” came out and proved a DC film could have its dark moments, but also have plenty of humor, fun, and yes, a vibrant color palette and still fit in. “Justice League” is definitely a step up from the first three films with some much needed humor, but is plagued by its dark and muddy aesthetic, a bland villain, and characters we just don’t care that much about.

Ben Affleck returns as Batman, as growly and dour as ever. He’s been seeing some ugly bug-creatures show up in visions and in the real world, and makes the obvious conclusion that the world is going to be invaded by a lot more of them. So he gets in touch with Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, and tells her they need to put together a team to stop all these human wasps. Their team includes hunky Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Each brings their own skills to the group. Cyborg can fly and hack into things. The Flash runs super fast, although honestly, his real superpower is bringing the punchlines to the film. And Aquaman … well, outside of water he really just throws his trident around.

Together, the group is trying to prevent an ugly supernatural creature named Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) from combining three boxes that will destroy the world or the universe or something. It’s standard bad-guy fare, and it’s immensely boring. Sure, there’s a lot at stake, but when the villain is so one-note and 100-percent evil, the lack of nuance really bogs down the movie.

The film is mostly reduced to one dark battle scene after the other, where we would hopefully see some memorable, character-defining from each hero. The most I can recall is a few scenes with The Flash, wherein he’s making a goofy face as he runs around super-fast. The action is certainly more clear than any of the scenes in “Suicide Squad,” which is a blessing. But don’t come to this film looking for the utter awesomeness that was the entire World War I trench scene from “Wonder Woman.”

Ultimately, “Justice League” is a movie that could have been far worse than what it is, but it still struggles to justify its existence, other than an excuse to play fast catch-up with Marvel’s superhero movies. For superhero fans, this manages to just entertain enough. Anyone else on the fence won’t miss much by skipping this one.

Loper rating: I give “Justice League” 2.9 surprised Flash faces out of 5.

Wonder,” drama starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson

A boy born with facial deformities must attend fifth grade for the first time, and deals with stares and bullies. Bring your tissue box to this movie, because it’ll play your heartstrings like a seven-piece string band.

Loper rating: 3.8 tissues out of 5, see the movie if heartwarming is your cup of tea.