Justice League is finally here and there is A LOT to dig into with this film. As a fan of these comic book movie genre films, I know that there’s a lot riding on this movie. This isn’t simply a matter of being entertained. Because it is my belief that the success/failure of this movie will potentially alter the direction of the future movies we’ll be getting from WB/DC. There is without question going to be a lot of debate over this film. It will be incredibly divisive. I’m fully anticipating the same or similar reactions and fall out from Batman V Superman to happen here with Justice League.
Justice League Trailer:
Justice League: Spoiler-Free Review Video
Justice League: Spoiler Reaction/Discussion Video:
Justice League did one thing that I always appreciate in movies, and that is to waste no time in getting to the core of the story. Moreover, there were very few moments where the story dragged or felt sluggish. Despite the two hour run time, the movie’s pacing was done well.
Within the film, we get to explore some philosophical differences between some of the main characters. That created an interesting tension between the characters that amplified their sense of teamwork later in the film. It was enjoyable to see how their chemistry developed in light of the challenges they had to face. You could tell that the actors were probably also having a good time during the film.
There are moments in the film that incorporate a subtle and effective level of humor through various moments of dialogue. For characters like Alfred, for example, this really plays off well. Alfred’s sarcastic commentary is true to his character so it’s a win/win with his subtle humor. I would have to say that Aquaman probably had one of the best LOL moments in the film. You’ll know it when you see it, but it was an excellent display of allowing a character to have a fun side without compromising the character in the process.
Despite having Joss Whedon come in and do re-shoots for Zack Snyder, I’m going to give Snyder credit for most of the cinematography. This is because the first half of the film is very reminiscent of both the look and feel of Batman V Superman and Man of Steel. More specifically, I want to highlight the great motion effects during the action scenes. There was a perfect blend of really fast paced action sequences that included just the right timing to infuse slow motion effects. The benefit here is that audience is able to witness some intense action scenes, but the slow motion gives us a better lens to apprehend the minor details within the scene too. As a matter of fact, it was really cool to see a number of interesting easter eggs in many of those major conflicts. (So be sure to pay attention)
As for the main characters, each one has a positive they can add to their win-column. Ben Affleck, as Batman, gave a satisfying performance despite not having any standout scenes. (It would’ve been nice to get a little more from his character.) Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman carried over an equal level of greatness from the Wonder Woman film. She was definitely a more prominent and equal character to that of Batman. This film did an excellent job of showing us that she’s still an iconic hero on all levels.
Jason Mamoa as Aquaman simply works. He’s owning the role, and definitely redefining (and undoing) all the stigmas that surrounded the character. Flash showed some potential within his character towards the end of the movie. Hopefully his character gets to develop into something deeper in his future solo movie. When it came to Cyborg, I was satisfied with his treatment as a strong supporting character. (I also wish we could’ve gotten a bit more from him.) Lastly, I really liked what they did with Steppenwolf. He consistently posed a genuine threat to all the characters as the primary villain of the story. Despite the limited depth to his character, he still pushed the team to their limits.
Oh, and before I forget… there are two end credit scenes at the end of the film that were cool. The best one was the very last one that teased some very interesting potential for future films.
Let’s start off with the biggest issue with this film first. The biggest issue, surprisingly, will probably be director Joss Whedon. Whedon’s going to have to burden the blame for the first problem of the film. That probably was in the poor editing that caused the tonal shifts in the movie. Justice League feels like it has two completely different tones that simply do not blend well. It’s not only incredibly obvious, but it’s also distracting. It’s completely counter-productive to have the film dial up a serious serious tone, to then abruptly jump into a humorous one. The transition was just poorly executed. There’s a moment during the final conflict where some of the main characters literally take a break from the present danger. That is to say, they took a break in order to have a little fun doing other activities. All this does is disrupt the sense of urgency for the sake of adding a little bit more fun when wasn’t necessary in that moment. As a viewer, you don’t know if you should care about the impending doom or laugh at the whimsical fun that’s taking place.
Another instance of the poor tonality of the film lies within the humor. Unfortunately, while some jokes in this film did hit, there were a number of them that were complete misses. I feel like these moments are “bonus” deleted scenes that never got deleted. Aquaman has an exceptionally funny moment in the film, but rather than ending the joke it gets extended with unnecessary commentary by The Flash.
(Sigh) Let’s take a moment to talk about the Flash. To put it bluntly, Flash was pretty annoying. He was purely there for comic relief, and his jokes/comments were not always entertaining. (Sometimes less is more.) Despite getting a chuckle to arise here or there, his comments/jokes felt forced. He was absolutely nothing like the character in any of the main continuities, and even if he were, this was a poor version to put on screen. Ezra Miller is a good actor, but the way this Flash was written was just disappointing. Flash seemed to be more like Beast Boy from the Teen Titans cartoon. It did appear as though his character is supposed to be “on the spectrum”. Either way, Justice League made the Flash act like a 12 yr old kid rather than an intellectual person who happened to have a case of ADD. Not to mention, he looked really weird while running during his slow motion shots. At times, I was thinking that he was running under water or something.
Wait, hold on. I can’t let Whedon off the hook just yet. I couldn’t help but notice so many comparisons and repeated tactics used in the film. It almost felt as though Whedon took from his ” Avengers: Age of Ultron bag of tricks” and just recycled them in Justice League. If the “Martha moment” rubbed you the wrong way in Batman V Superman, then so will the “Hey big guy, the sun is getting real low” moment.
The CGI in this movie is atrocious at times. The visual effects used to cover up his facial hair was awful. (See the link below for more info) It looked like he had botox shots around his mouth that hadn’t fully healed. I believe there were other easier options that they could’ve been explored to work around that issue. Nevertheless, the mere fact that it was noticeable is problematic. Something so minor shouldn’t distract the viewing experience as it did. (There are too many times you’ll notice and think, “What’s wrong with his face?”)
The CGI was also rather messy in some of the fight scenes. I do not say this to portray the notion that I expected top notch, and flawless visual effects. The problem is that I shouldn’t mistake some of the action scenes in Justice League with the cut scenes from a video game (with lesser graphics). In other words, if we’re not going to give a pass for poor CGI in a movie like The Scorpion King or Doom, then Justice League is no exception either.
Finally, I’m just not a fan of the handling of Steppenwolf’s character towards the end of the movie. It really just came of to be kind of corny, and it left a wide open opportunity to push the story forward even more. (Find out more in my upcoming spoiler discussion video.)
There’s a lot of background context that surrounds this film that should be understood. As some may know, this film project was disrupted with director Zack Snyder’s unfortunate family situation. That opened up the door to having Joss Whedon step into direct and finish up some parts of the film. This led to a lot of re-shoots and changes made to the original film. Despite any of my past criticisms of Snyder, I must say that I now wish he could’ve finished Justice League…even if that meant delaying it. I know that probably wasn’t going to happen, but at the very least we could’ve gotten a more consistent film with a single vision.
Another piece of context to know is that Justice League film feels very reactionary and safe. Rather than taking any significant risks (good or bad), this film simply checked off the boxes that included previous critiques. Warner Bros/DC heard the critics complain about the dark tones, not enough humor, and the lack “Marvel fun”. Regrettably, the movie studio acquiesced. This only compounded the issue of a film that already felt like a patch-work job with Whedon’s re-shoots.
The best way to describe Justice League is probably by using the analogy of a cake. The studios and the directors seemed to have all the best ingredients ready to go (ie: famous household superheros). They put the eggs, milk, sugar, flour and other ingredients in a bowl, stirred it up, put in a pan, and stuck it in the oven. When it was done, they pulled it out, let it cool, and decorated it with some frosting. VOILA! We have a SUPER cake! However, in this case, they didn’t stir the batter enough to smoothly blend the ingredients together. They also set the oven for the wrong temperature. So now when you take a bite into this lovely looking cake, you notice it’s a little under-cooked in the middle. Oh, and that crunch you just felt, that’s just a small piece of egg shell that was left in the batter. That…is Justice League. A nice looking cake that is kind of hard to eat.
I think another important point to understand is that we can no longer compare these DC films to the Marvel movies. They’re simply not on the same level. Marvel HAD to make a ton of movies for their lesser known characters. DC actually has the luxury of well known characters so much so that they don’t need to rush a thing. Justice League does feel like a rushed product. (So did Batman V Superman) With that said, I think it’s only fair to compare this film within the franchise. In my opinion, I do think that Justice League is better than Suicide Squad. It’s probably equal to Man of Steel only by default due to the many additional characters. However, Justice League does fall short when compared to Wonder Woman.
Personally, I think it’s time to hit the reset button with this franchise. After Aquaman and Wonder Woman 2, I think this current path has been exhausted. Wonder Woman gave a lot of hope that this franchise was headed in the right direction. Justice League felt like it took only a half a step back. Nevertheless, Justice League is still worth watching. (You’re too deeply invested and curious not to watch it anyway.) Whether you like the film or not, or whether you agree with my assessment or not won’t matter. This movie still warrants a viewing simply by default. So feel free to watch Justice League in your local theaters. Be sure to come back and let us know what you thought of it!
E-Man’s Rating: 7/10
Genre: Action| Adventure| Fantasy
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
See Justice League in theaters November 17, 2017! Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!
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