Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon bring together iconic superheroes to form the Justice League, the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe, but forgot to give the team a worthwhile evildoer to make their live-action debut memorable. Warner Home Video unites the team on Blu-ray with a sensational audio and video presentation but joined by a small set of supplements, making the overall package Recommended for fans.
As I've mentioned before in the past, the strength of any good action movie — be it a fantasy adventure or a straightforward "blow 'em up" combat flick — comes down ultimately to the authenticity and determination of its villain. As witnesses to the larger-than-life spectacle erupting on the silver screen, we need to know the baddy is capable of uniquely horrific evil (key word here is unique) and lacking our shared sense of morality (but not totally absent so as to make her/him completely unrelatable). Most importantly, the bad person must be powerful enough to give our heroes a worthy challenge to overcome, something that casts a tiny shade of doubt in our heroes' ability to defeat the evildoer. And this, I would argue, is essentially the problem with Justice League, the latest installment in Warner's DC Extended Universe franchise. Five movies in, this feels like a rushed, last-minute science project satisfied with a passing grade rather accomplishing something memorable or seeking to impress the harsh criticisms of judges, which are the comic book fans.
Steppenwolf (voiced by an otherwise competent Ciarán Hinds) is about as bland and two-dimensional a villain as they come, largely motivated by the same single-minded objective as previous entries. It doesn't help the character is also the result of some of the worst motion-capture CGI we've seen in some time, looking distractingly cartoonish and arguably better suited for the DC Universe animated movies. As with General Zod and Enchantress before him, the powerful God seeks to terraform Earth so that he can reign supreme and be worshipped by the survivors. Simple and straightforward, but also somewhat boring because his motivations for the annihilation of the planet are never clearly expressed. All we know is that he and his legions of Parademons doggedly pursue the mysteries Mother Boxes, which are supposed to be the key for this worldwide destruction, but again, what exactly they are and what they do is never fully explained. Steppenwolf is simply a nondescript bad dude with generically bad intentions needing to be stopped.
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read our review of the 4K UHD with Dolby Vision HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Warner Home Video brings Justice League to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with an UltraViolet Digital Copy. A Region Free, BD50 disc sits comfortably opposite a DVD-9 inside a blue, eco-elite keepcase with a shiny slipcover. After a couple trailers, viewers are taken to a static menu screen with generic options and music in the background.
Legendary heroes are brought together by the superpowers of a demo-worthy and often jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that almost immediately ignites the screen in the opening moments. Batman's encounter with a petty criminal and a Parademon is awash in dark midnight blacks and bleakly stygian shadows that penetrate deep into the screen, providing the 1.85:1 image with an excellent three-dimensional depth while also giving the action an attractive neo-noir feel to it. With spot-on contrast that delivers ultra-clean, brilliantly crisp whites throughout, viewers can still make out the tiniest detail and feature in the darkest, gloomiest corners of the frame while the street lights radiate intensely in the distance. Added to that, primaries pop with rich vividness and energy, animating every conversation with crimson reds, sparkling blues and lively greens, while sumptuously warm secondary hues invigorate the climatic battle with distinct glowing yellows, fiery oranges and ecstatic purplish magentas that never bleed into one another.
Shot on a combination of traditional 35mm film and digital cameras, the freshly-minted transfer also displays razor-sharp definition and resolution from beginning to end. Viewers can plainly see the tiniest, minuscule feature in each outfit worn by the heroes, including Cyborg's CG metal body where the individual colored wires can be practically counted and every little moving gear or part is revealed. The smallest ornate detail in Wonder Woman's costume is exposed while each fish-like scale and elaborate piece in Aquaman's more-regal-like attire can be appreciated. Most impressive, if not also memorable, is seeing the battle scars, scratches and wounds on Batman and The Flash's costumes, even from a short distance. Facial complexions are highly-revealing with amazing lifelike textures, and buildings show every crack and imperfections. Little pebbles on the roads of the small Russian village and debris flying in every which direction are distinct, making this HD presentation one of the best of the year thus far.
For a more in-depth take on the audio, you can read our review of the 4K UHD with Dolby Vision HERE.
For a more in-depth take on the bonus material, you can read our review of the 4K UHD with Dolby Vision HERE.
Justice League finally unites DC's trio of iconic superheroes, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, while also introducing The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg for their live-action, feature-length debut. Although the camaraderie and humor of the team is an entertaining highlight of the production, making it at least a fun watch, the overall movie suffers from pacing issues, odd tonal shifts, and a rather dull god-like villain. The team assembles on Blu-ray with a stunning, reference-quality video and an outstanding Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but the supplements are on the light side even if they are a worthwhile watch. Nevertheless, the overall package is recommended for fans and AV enthusiasts hungry for more demo-material.