Justice League Review (2017)
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?: PROBABLY
IMAX?: UNNECESSARY 3D?: UNNECESSARY MID-CREDITS?: YES POST-CREDITS?: YES
Our movie begins very similarly to Justice League: War, the animated origin of the Justice League that was released some years ago. We see Batman (Ben Affleck) attempt to apprehend a thief, but what he's really after is a way to lure out a monster that he's been tracking. As it turns out, this monster is a parademon. If you're unfamiliar with DC canon, parademons are basically the mindless foot-soldiers of Darkseid (remember Batman's vision of a dystopian future in BvS?) and his cohorts from Apokolips. Batman is looking for information on the coming invasion he believes is at our doorstep.
Over the course of the film, we learn that there are 3 mother boxes on Earth. Through marketing material and various specials released by Warner Bros., we also know that these 3 boxes were fought for and secured by Man, the Atlanteans and the Amazons in the "first age". These are what Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds), the film's antagonist, is after. When all three boxes combine they form what is called the Unity. What the Unity does and why he wants it you can learn for yourself when you watch the film, but suffice it to say that nothing good will come of him getting what he wants. The scale of the stakes is what forces our heroes to join together to put a stop to Steppenwolf and his forces.
As is the case in Avengers and every team up movie ever, there are growing pains, to say the least. Trust issues, immaturity, and inexperience run rampant throughout most of the film until, of course, the final battle where everything comes together. No puzzle called Justice League would be complete without 1/3 of the DC Trinity. We all knew Superman (Henry Cavill) would return, it was just a question of how. You can see for yourself how it happens, but the resurrection methodology is sure to cause concern for fanboys and anyone expecting solid, cohesive writing.
So, I'm torn on this one. Did I enjoy the movie? Absolutely. It was fun seeing these heroes together for the first time on the big screen. A lot of the action was fantastic and visually appealing. However, there are some hardcore issues as well. Obviously not enough that I couldn't enjoy the film, but there were some glaring concerns. First and foremost was shifting tonality. It's common knowledge by now that Joss Whedon (Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron) was brought on to "finish Zack Snyder's vision" in the form of reshoots and post-production work. It's also common knowledge that WB and the actors on the film bent over backwards to make sure we knew that Whedon was only responsible for about 15-20% of the final version of the film.
The vast majority of Superman's scenes were re-shot. That's not an exaggeration. How do we know this? Henry Cavill's mustache. After filming Justice League with Snyder, Cavill went on to shoot Mission: Impossible 6. His character has a mustache in the film and the studio refused to allow him to shave it for his JL reshoots. As a result, it was left to CGI to deal with his mustache. Whether it's because there wasn't enough time to perfect it or the technology wasn't up to snuff is anybody's guess, but if you look at his upper lip in the scenes he's in, it's obvious there's something crazy going on there. A lot of the jokes in the film are "Whedonesque" as well. Given the placement of these jokes and through lines, it's difficult to believe that Whedon didn't redo far, far more of the film than we were told.
On top of that, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was whittled down from the feminist icon she was, into a love interest for Bruce or a boob joke with The Flash (Ezra Miller). Thankfully that didn't take up too much of the film but it was saddening to see. Besides that her arc was wonderful and we got to see some amazing use of her powers in the film. Her speed was on full display and boy is she fast. What we didn't see too much of was Aquaman (Jason Momoa) in any kind of action that wasn't basically a strong-man doing his job. I'll be the first to admit that, on land, there's not much but his strength to work with, but it was a little bit of a let down to only see one ocean scene. He has enhanced senses, stamina and durability, so SOMETHING else could have been done. I will say, Aquaman is definitely cool now.
The two stand-out characters were The Flash and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). The Flash was funny, quirky and witty. You'd think those were all good things for his character, but the direction they're going with him is a bit annoying. He's young, and not just in appearance. He's immature and it's weird to me. I'm all for characters growing into themselves but this felt weird to me being a long time Flash fan. In the TV show, Grant Gustin's Flash makes all kinds of mistakes. He's immature. He's funny and witty as well. The difference is Grant never feels like he doesn't belong in the suit. You look at him and besides the fact that he needs several sandwiches, you see a hero that's not quite there yet but he's on the way. This was episode one. With Ezra's take (or maybe what they made him do) it feels like he doesn't stack up in any department besides humor. Also, I'm gonna be petty here, but his run is awful. He looks like he's trying to discard his hands and feet by whipping them forward at blinding speed. None of this is to say that I don't like him in the role, though. I'm very interested to see where he takes the character.
Cyborg on the other hand was, well, he was perfect. His fear, his depression, his genius, his attitude were all spot on. I felt like I was actually watching a guy who lost everything he had and didn't know what he gained, because he was submerged in his grief. I was very concerned with how they were going to approach the character but I was not disappointed in the slightest. Well, that's not true. I was disappointed in the visuals for him. It was painfully CGI. Also, the anatomics seemed off, but there's a reward for putting up with it. You'll see.
Batman was pretty bad. Batman is my favorite character in all of comics. I'm more of a Marvel head than a DC head but Batman tops the list. I'm not sure if Affleck was phoning it in because he was pretty sure he was done with the part or if it was just how the character was written, but the acting, the lines and delivery, were just all bad. Also, besides his money, he felt useless. He felt unnecessary. If there's one thing Batman is not, it's useless. You literally go into making this movie with the knowledge that he's the only one without superpowers. It's your JOB to make it feel like it doesn't matter. He needs to bring to the table an undeniable presence and resourcefulness. I will say, his opening fight sequence is phenomenal though.
Last but not least is Superman. Yes. YES. FINALLY! This is Superman. My thoughts on the matter are documented, and I was rewarded for my hope. I hope to god that the terrible reviews and box office numbers don't change the plans for Man of Steel 2, because I want to see THIS Superman in action. Fantastic work on him (besides his upper lip). There's a sequence that's unforgettable in the film and I would pay $40 just to see a movie about that. You'll know exactly what I'm talking about when you see it.
Bottom line, Justice League has problems. It's tonally dissonant, thin, poorly written and contrived and we definitely deserve more. I still enjoyed the absolute hell out of the movie because it got what all superhero flicks need to get right: Distraction. If I were ranking this movie combining MCU and DCEU flicks to date, I'd rank it above Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2, without question. Both those films did many things better than JL but also did many things, bigger things, worse. If you're a fan of the DCEU, absolutely go watch it. If you're a casual movie-goer, then this isn't a must-see film by any means. Still, go see it. Make it some money so I can get to see Flashpoint and Man of Steel 2. To be honest, I have high hopes for future solo movies even with the issues with this one, simply because of WHY there were issues with this one.
Anyway, I'm rambling.