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November 16, 2017

'Justice League' gets a C+ for rushing us nowhere

The film, which opened in theaters Thursday, doesn't allow enough time to flesh out the story

The long-awaited "Justice League" movie has a lot to recommend it. 

Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck continue to personify their respective legendary characters almost perfectly. Ezra Miller, Jason Mamoa and Ray Fisher all are more than fine as Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, as well.

One more character shows up – I won't spoil anything for those who have still not found out if it's a stunning debut of Green Lantern or a triumphant return of Superman.

However, that moment feels a bit more complicated and rushed than it needs to be – which is the main problem with the entire movie.

Warner Brothers' inane mandate to limit this film to no more than a 2-hour running time has really harmed this movie. With so many characters to not only service but introduce and an overly grandiose and confusing plot by the villain that virtually no one walking out of the theater will remember afterward, this film definitely needed more time to flesh things out and build toward the dramatic moments so they would have maximum dramatic impact.

This is especially true when so many reshoots were done after director Zack Snyder had to depart and was replaced by Joss Whedon. Whedon, if nothing else, manages to make the switch seem seamless. The movie actually flows pretty well.

However, some "scenes" are literally as portrayed in the trailers. They aren't the highlight of the scene. They are the whole scene. No follow-up. No context. Just, "Hey, doesn't this look cool for eight seconds?"

Which is a darn shame, because everyone involved seems to be giving their all.

Except Steppenwolf, who is an obvious CGI creation. Is he extremely powerful? Yes, so you care about him, and care, or even understand anything he does? Not really.

The battle scenes are pretty spectacular. If Warner Brothers had decided to give Whedon enough time to put them in a context of characters we were given time to know and a plot we were given time to understand, this could have possibly been one of the most memorable superhero films ever.

He may have been able to sharpen the dialogue a bit as well.

Instead, we get passable, forgettable entertainment for that studio-mandated two hours. Which, given the talent involved, effort expended and anticipation for "Justice League" is an incredibly, frustratingly wasted opportunity.

Grade: C+