Review: Justice League

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Review: Justice League

DC Comics fans have waited many years to see this finally happen: there is a Justice League movie. The fifth film set in the DC Movie’verse, following: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. All, except Wonder Woman, were met with mild applause and endless geek debate over the quality and treatment of such beloved characters. Justice League is the result of years of waiting and plagued with massive script issues, filming setbacks, a director change, and a costly fifty percent reshoot. But the filmmakers pushed on and fought against an onslaught of negativity and problems. Glad to say, after all is said and done, Justice League is a very enjoyable movie: bright, fun, filled with heart, humor and hope. If you don’t look too close, that is.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash all must band together and save the world before it’s too late.

Yes it’s fun. Yes you can take your kids. And yes there is finally hope in these movies. But, if you start to go over the movie with a fine toothed comb the plot holes, themes and tone sink this ship faster than the Titanic. Keeping it consistent with their other films, this also just has way too many moving parts. Zack Snyder just doesn’t seem to understand “less is more.” As sad as is it that he had to step away from the movie due to a family tragedy, that left the path open for Joss Whedon to come in and finish/fix the movie. It’s very apparent that there are two different tones being smashed together. And if you know both filmmakers films it’s pretty easy to see who did what.

That being said, it doesn’t hurt the enjoyment. The movie has a lighter tone than BvS and makes you remember why these are some of the greatest comic heroes. Finally each is given the respect they have needed. Being written by talented fans that “get it” has helped a lot: Chris Terrio, Whedon and an unaccredited Goeff Johns, each uses their capacity to help this movie become a Justice League film that can be watched.

The heroes this time feel like their comic characters. Superman actually looks, feels and acts like Superman should. Batman truly saves people this time around vs being a mass murderer. And there is something very geektastic about seeing The Trinity (Wonder Woman, Bats and Supes) on screen together in a massive sweeping shot.

The cast really pulls it together. They look and feel like they were having fun on set. Which is a nice change from the BvS where they all looked miserable. Affleck, Cavill and Gadot have had three times to find these characters at this point. And here they really get to show they have found them. But to be fair, Gadot always knew who Wonder Woman was, she was just waiting for the boys to catch up. No need to hark on these three, we know what they can do with these heroes at this time. Let’s focus on our newcomers: Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

All three have the difficult task of coming into a franchise in the third movie, and without their own origin movie the filmmakers have to make us care and understand in a relative short time who they are. It’s handled fine, not great, but for the movie you’re watching it works. Each character is given a quick background scene where in dialogue they explain why they’re there, who they are, and what made them the superhero they are. It’s the best outcome for a movie such as this. They get their moment to shine and make us want to see more of them.

Miller is the most charismatic of the bunch. His Barry Allen is like nothing seen before. It’s not Barry. Not in any way. But, you can see if more movies happen a good Barry could be in our future. It’s hard for us to buy this new Flash because of the perfect one we have on TV, so this is going to be a tough change for fans to understand. But nevertheless, Miller is great and fun to watch. 

Momoa is awesome! Being a big Aquaman fan it’s nice to finally to see this merman get his due. It’s not your grandfather’s Aquaman. Is it Dothraki Aquaman? You bet your ass it is. And you love it! He has all the best lines and makes you really want to see an Aquaman movie. Which comes out next year. Is that coincidental? Of course not.

And then there’s Cyborg. Fisher does a great job of bringing the anger and pain of a young man who has been turned into a living robot computer thing. I’m sure it was hard for Fisher to do this role. But he rises to the challenge and meets it head on. The CGI suit is meh at best. It looks real and interacts well with the environment, but the design is just stupid. He does the best he can with the little-to-nothing he has to do in the movie. He is exposition man and makes sure the team knows what they need to do. If there is a question asked, he most likely has the answer. It’s fine for the movie, but for future films he needs to have a purpose other than “just being cool.”

Continuing to build their DC world in the movies, the filmmakers bring back some fan favorite support characters: Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Martha Kent (Diane Lane), Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons) and Hipployta (Connie Nielsen). Each is used well, all helping to serve the story, and each has a great comic moment with our heroes. This was the perfect use of these smaller but important characters in theses films.

The villain who faces off against our heroes is a character called Steppenwolf. He is a alien military office from a plant called Apokolips who leads an army of Parademons to earth to find three Mother Boxes, which once combined will do….something. This is where things get a little muddled. You as the viewer understand that this guy is bad, and if these boxes are brought together bad things will happen. But the plot is so thin here that Steppenwolf’s purpose is lost. Good character, very misused. He only mentions Darkseid once, and only to himself. So we as the viewers know that something bigger and bad is coming, but our heroes have no clue. Which could work, storytelling wise? But’s lets be honest, we’re lucky we got what we got.

This is what leads to the massive inconsistent tone and theme of the film. While the movie is fun and gives us some character growth, at the end of the day I don’t know what this movie is about. Like, as a comic geek I understand fully what is going on. But for the average filmgoer this makes little to no sense. This is where I feel the two different directors the most. Two visions clashing. There is the boring, sad, dark-toned Snyder movie no one wanted, and then the up-beat Wheadon movie that fixes the issues as best as he can, bringing back the hope and fun. Or more accurately, making the movie work well enough to be released. Either way, this needs to be reworked before the League’s next adventure. Someone needs to set in stone the tone and themes for these movies or they may continue to just be all show with no substance.

 

The CGI is pretty solid. But it would have to be, being that half the movie is pretty much animated. The fights are excellent, as is all the underwater stuff, and Steppenwolf himself is an amazing CGI character. He is big, mean and very scary looking. The special effects are top notch and look fantastic. But there is that one thing: Henry Cavill’s mustache. If you are unaware of 2017s Mustache Gate, it’s basically this:  they needed Cavill back for reshoots. He was filming Mission Impossible 6, and had grown facial hair for the part. Well, the producers got involved. And because he couldn’t shave they made the genius decision to CGI over Cavill’s facial hair, giving us a bottom-half CGI Superman mouth/jaw. You can tell what is his and what isn’t. Some of the CGI mouth shots are wonderful if the CGI had the A-team working on it, and its barley noticeable. But then there the C-teams have a go at it and it’s like WTF! This doesn’t ruin the movie in any way, but it is very jarring if you see it. It’s like, something just doesn’t look right. But Cavill’s Superman is so charming you just move on. There’s really bigger fish to fry here than this.

When you’re trying to impress fans, or pander if you will, you get all the things you need to do that. Hence why Whedon was brought in or why Danny Elfman is hired to score the music for the movie. Elfman is no stranger to superhero films, and he knows exactly what to do, how to evoke emotion, and he does it really damn well. He gives the heroes a much-needed theme, which is important to these films for sure. Tells you with a music queue that things are about to get real. Elfman does something unique during the movie: he manages to work in his own 89 Batman and John William’s 78 Superman theme into his own new score. It’s quick, and if you’re not really listening for it, it could pass you by. But, not going to lie, when you hear it, something stirs within, in the best way possible.

Since I was a kid, I have wanted a Justice League movie. The League was my first comic and these are my favorite heroes that I have personally looked up to my whole life. So when DC/WB began dropping the ball I was rather annoyed. I basically made my peace with the fact that my heroes would never been up on screen the way I needed them to be. So I was very surprised when watching this. Look, the movie isn’t great, and it has massive issues. But the characters I love were finally given some respect and some great character moments. And so for me, at this time, I feel a little better as a fan. This movie is fun, action packed, funny and really does finally give hope to the DC movie world. This could be the rocky start to something amazing.

P.S. The post credits scenes are two of the best geeky things ever!