Long Story Short
Better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, worse than Wonder Woman.
Long Story Long
This movie just oozes with Zack Snyder-isms (yes I know he left it in the hands of Joss Whedon). Lots of things just seem to be here to be cool. There are a number of non-Flash-related slow motion bits that add absolutely nothing other than maybe showing off Wonder Woman's reflexes (but we don't really need that? Probably would've been cooler to see it done fast rather than in slow motion). There are also a lot of things that could be left out to improve the flow of the movie, but that's probably a personal preference. It felt very cluttered.
Something I really like about the DC movies is that even though there's a CGI mess a lot of the time, there's a certain weight to every punch, kick, or projectile. This is more a thing that kind of has to do with the 12 basic principles of animation, but I feel like sound plays a major part into this as well.
Musically, the only specific reference I could really identify was Wonder Woman's theme. Maybe that's because I've seen Wonder Woman the most out of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Wonder Woman.
As an amateur writer, I can say that pacing is difficult to do. The pacing is honestly kind of awkward. I feel like it slows to a crawl then tries to jump back up to 100 a lot.
A lot of the opening is a jumbled mess, honestly. We see Batman and Wonder Woman doing their crimefighting, but then comes the mess of introducing Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash, and Steppenwolf.
Each hero has a pretty one-dimensional personality (but that's kind of a given since they haven't been given the time to be really fleshed out).
+ Aquaman: he's a bro who thinks he's better off on his own
+ Cyborg: he's super serious, not the fun Teen Titans character most people nowadays probably know though he does say "Booyah" once
+ Flash: he's socially awkward, honestly. He feels like more of a fan than a peer
The biggest issue in the writing of this movie is all the subplot nonsense. There's an Eastern European family that gets a subplot for no reason other to show where Steppenwolf is steppenwolf-ing. Amazons guarding a Motherbox? Fine, fine, but it should've been nodded to in Wonder Woman at least. Atlantis? Should've been mentioned in Wonder Woman or Suicide Squad. Steppenwolf as a threat gets expositioned after he's already shown his power. The exposition about Steppenwolf honestly could've been a better opening to the movie than what they had... A stupid vertical phone video of some kids interviewing Superman And then romance subplot between Bruce and Diana.
I think my biggest writing issue with this movie is just remedying the mess that was Batman v Superman. They bring Superman back to life since they realize that the 5 heroes we have can't beat Steppenwolf (but y'know Wonder Woman is the best fighter in DC and Aquaman is essentially invincible if you put him in water but whatever Atlantis still needs to lose their Motherbox).
Ben Affleck reprises his role of Batman. He uses guns. Lots of guns. And missiles. Not Ben's fault, but it's still a thing that should be addressed since BATMAN DOESN'T
FUCKING USE GUNS. Ben Affleck certainly does have the presence of a Batman, but a lot of it kind of felt more like Michael Keaton's Batman rather than one that would be around in 2017. What do I mean by this? He seemed really stiff in the costume. My mom actually complained about Ben being too fat to be Batman, but that's neither here nor there. Ben Affleck does about as well as Batman as he did in Batman v Superman.
Ezra Miller enters the DCEU as Barry Allen (the Flash). As mentioned earlier, Barry Allen is written as a pretty awkward character. He even does that thing you see in anime where the guy and girl both fall and the guy is in the girl's chest. I must preface the rest of my critique with saying that I have not watched the television series about The Flash and I am not well versed with Barry Allen in the comics. I felt that Ezra Miller certainly played the character well enough. His performance certainly felt like he was giving effort, though since the Flash isn't a lead character he couldn't shine. I'm not sure how I'd feel about him being in a standalone movie, though. Also the Flash was my dad's favorite character in the movie.
Gal Gadot reprises her role of Wonder Woman (aka the DCEU's Golden Daughter). Diana as a leading lady is probably going to happen a lot. Gal's performance is on par with her performance in Wonder Woman. She's stronk and doesn't afraid of anything. Best hero in the movie.
Henry Cavill returns from the dead to reprise the role of DC's poster boy Superman. I feel like his performance is kind of meh. I'm pretty sure at the moment he gets resurrected, he has a slight British accent. This would be fine if it was like "Oh he doesn't have memories or whatever" BUT NOPE HE STILL REMEMBERS BRUCE GOT HIM KILLED. I think other than this, Henry's performance is fine. He looks the part of Supes still and he gives off that Boy Scout vibe Superman usually does.
Jason Mamoa enters the DCEU as Arthur Curry (Aquaman). It certainly feels like Jason had a lot of fun in this role. He comes off as cocky (maybe even brash). It's a drastic change from seeing him as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. Personally, I'm not sure how I'd feel about this character getting a standalone movie, but time will tell.
Ray Fisher enters the DCEU as Victor Stone (Cyborg). He feels robotic and cold, honestly. I didn't really like how flat his character felt. Maybe it's because I grew up on Teen Titans Cyborg who was boisterous and full of "Booyah!"s. If the DCEU plan on turning Cyborg into a standalone property, they would definitely need their best writing team to make him a sympathetic hero. With Flash and Aquaman, you at least have some sense of character and can connect, but Cyborg is kind of unrelatable (at least to me).
Ciaran Hinds enters the DCEU as Steppenwolf. (You may know him as Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones). What to say about this guy... He doesn't have the level of understandability some other villains have. Where some places go to make the villains seem like they have some semblance of reason (Amon wanted equality; Zaheer wanted freedom). Steppenwolf doesn't seem to have any good motivations. He established as a conquerer of worlds just because and he wants Earth because it's the one planet he couldn't get. Ciaran Hinds does provide a good voice for Steppenwolf. He felt a bit menacing, but not to the point where it doesn't feel comic book-y if that makes any sense.
Each actual costume looked amazing (though Wonder Woman's wedges don't seem super practical still). Aquaman's suit is the only one I can really complain about, but it certainly had a lot of detail and effort put into its design.
Step In the Right Direction
It's a step in the right direction. DC should work on their standalone movies before trying to throw 5 heroes together. It's made better than Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. I'd rather have had them make a leap in quality rather than a step, but you have to give them some credit.
There's an almost throwaway line by Steppenwolf mentioning Darkseid. I know it was coming, but I'm glad to finally get confirmation on Darkseid being the main villain (though it's kind of interesting that they decided to use the parallel to Thanos).
In the Steppenwolf exposition Wonder Woman gives, they show a lone Green Lantern helping defeat Steppenwolf. That's literally all the DCEU will acknowledge about the Lantern Corps. Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) literally is the only founding member of the League that isn't in this movie that is about the founding of the League. Where is the logic there? Sure the Ryan Reynolds movie was awful, but come on. You shoved everyone else into the EU, where's Hal? He probably would've been easier to throw into the series since he's an air force pilot.
Yes, CGI. Guess what? Another superhero movie ends in a big CGI shitshow! It makes sense, since Steppenwolf is essentially terraforming the world, but I like sets and practical effects. Ideally, the two should work together in tandem, but y'know... people don't like to do that anymore.
This complaint isn't exactly 100% legitimate. I feel that the DCEU is going to continue to have trouble adding in other heroes to the roster. Who else is going to be added? I know Shazam/Black Adam are coming to films soon. I also know Aquaman, Batman, and Flash have movies in the works. Who else could they comfortably add with sequels/standalone films? Supergirl would be an easy call in a Superman movie. Green Lantern is just necessary (and it should be sooner than that 2020 Green Lantern Corps movie date).
What bothers me more is that Flash's movie is supposed to be Flashpoint (aka the event that essentially reset the DC universe). Does this mean the DCEU is going to reset? What would this mean for movies occurring after Flashpoint? Also, HOW DO YOU PLAN ON DOING A FLASHPOINT MOVIE WHEN REVERSE FLASH DOESN'T EVEN EXIST IN THE DCEU YET? Seriously, it would be a more reasonable move to have Barry just square off against Eobard Thawne without any Flashpoint nonsense. Or get extra comic book-y and have him fight Captain Boomerang (who has already been put in), Captain Cold, Mirror Master, or even Gorilla Grodd.
Final Verdict: 6/10