JUSTICE LEAGUE: With the exception of this summer’s WONDER WOMAN, movies from the DC Comics’ universe have failed to significantly register on the audience “fun-o-meter”. That dark somber tone doesn’t fuse well with this film’s absurd plot that pits the title superheroes against a Satanic looking creature named Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) and his minions of ugly winged “fairies” out to bring on the apocalypse…or something. The dead serious nature of the storyline exposes the ensemble cast’s collective weaknesses. Without a strong script and supporting players, Gal Gadot’s (FAST FIVE) flaws as a performer who can’t act her way out of a paper bag are soon revealed along with Ben Affleck’s (ARGO) inappropriately condescending caped crusader who comes off as someone who just doesn’t want to be where he is. The screenplay, co-written by Joss Whedon (THE AVENGERS) with Chris Terrio, attempts to inject some levity by way of the motormouth Flash (Ezra Miller) whose banter grows rather tiresome after about three minutes. But the whole tone of the film has a sort of schizophrenic air about it with an indelicate balance of humor overwhelmed by the overall bleak nature of the work. The special effects are disappointingly “cheesy” although they’re masked somewhat by director Zack Snyder’s (300) unique visual style. I couldn’t help but feel, too, like the recruited crimefighters were fairly ineffective at getting the upper hand on their enemies until Superman (Henry Cavill) is scientifically resurrected to bail them out. That had me wondering just what the heck the “man of steel” needs a “league” for. This is a movie where the players don’t appear to be acting as they are posing for a panel in a comic book. Observing the tattooed, massive pectorals of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) reminded me of Groucho Marx’s paraphrased quote that “I never like movies where the man’s breasts are bigger than the womans”.

CRITIC’S GRADE: C-

CLOSING CREDITS: The first post-credit scene in this flick is an inconsequential one where the Flash and Superman agree to race each other in a knowing wink to fanboys’ debate about which of the two is swiftest. You won’t learn the answer since the scene goes to black when the race begins. The concluding sequence, though, finds the “man of steel’s” archenemy Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) on a yacht after having apparently escaped from prison. He then meets with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) and proposes that he join him to create “a league of our own” which is portending to be an anti-JUSTICE LEAGUE sequel centered around who the villains are that remain to be chosen.