Reviews: Justice League 2017
You Can\'t Save the DCEU In One Movie
Warner Brothers' attempt to establish the DC Extended Universe has been off to a somewhat shaky start, as its first three entries- Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad- suffered from various problems, such as bad characterization, overly complicated and bloated narratives, and others. Justice League attempts to succeed where those three failed, and achieve Wonder Woman's level of success, with mixed results. The film involves the formation of the eponymous Justice League to stop Steppenwolf from using three Mother Boxes to destroy the world. To that end, the film has to introduce and recruit three new heroes- The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg- set up the conflict with Steppenwolf while making it relevant to the overall story, and continue to develop existing characters... all in a mere two hours. Of course, while the film overextends itself, it also does things better than other movies. While the world is in a bleak situation, the tone is fairly hopeful, as it involves heroes uniting in order to save the world. The plot is less convoluted than in BvS, and has a somewhat more consistent pace. The action is decent, but nothing particularly special as far as superhero movies go, and the same goes for the special effects. The heroes display some impressive teamwork, and use their powers and equipment well, though. Now for the characters. Batman has clearly changed for the better since BvS, particulalry in trying to be a leader, but the conflict between him and Wonder Woman seems a bit forced. The Flash is often quite funny, but seems to have the least reason to be there out of all the heroes. Cyborg, while more relevant to the story, spends too much time pitying himself- his arc was honestly better done in Teen Titans. Meanwhile, Aquaman goes from somewhat dismissive of the idea of cooperation to willing to join up after his people's Mother Box is stolen, without much indication of how much he's changed as a person. While Wonder Woman is a fairly strong character, she's largely underutilized here. As a whole, the story doesn't use the characters' contrasting backstories/personalities/powers as well as it could, so while some of the characters are well done, there aren't many compelling relationships between them. The main villain, Steppenwolf, is somewhat forgettable, without much personality or any real personal connection to the heroes. He isn't even that much of a threat without his Mother Boxes, so he's quite unimpressive overall. POSSIBLE SPOILERS As you might expect, Superman didn't actually stay dead, and is resurrected in the third act of the movie. It's a welcome change to see him acting like the optimistic Ideal Hero he usually is, rather than his brooding BvS self, but the change is too abrupt to be organic. END SPOILERS All in all, Justice League is decent superhero fun that improves on some previous DCEU films, but don't expect anything impressive.
Fuck You, Warner Bros.
Justice League was easily the worst superhero film that I have seen in the year 2017. This was a year that had previously given us Logan (the greatest film in the X-men series), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (a funny, yet thought-provoking film about the meaning of family), Wonder Woman (the first film in the DCEU that doesn't suck), Spider-man: Homecoming (Spider-man's successful transition to the MCU), and Thor: Ragnarok (easily the strongest film in the Thor series to date). Every single one of those films were both critically and financially successful. By the time it finishes its theatrical run (most likely December 15, go ahead and guess why), Justice League will turn out to be NEITHER. To have the year end with a polished turd like Justice League, that isn't just an embarrassment to Warner Bros. or DC Comics. It's an embarrassment to the entire superhero film genre in general. It is certainly a step back from Wonder Woman. This film suffers from all of the usual problems which seem to plague every other film in the DCEU (with Wonder Woman being the outstanding exception): bad screenwriting, bad acting, bad characterization, bad lighting and visual effects, bad pacing for the plot, and more. Following his resurrection, Superman effortlessly beats the big bad into submission. His very presence within the setting effectively renders the rest of the league obsolete. Batman and Wonder Woman were both portrayed well, but that was mainly due to them having more lines and screen-time than anyone else. Barry Allen's character felt as if he would be more at home in an MCU film than anything which has Zack Snyder's name on it. Cyborg had no personality outside of self-pity, and the film gave me no reason to care about this character. He could have died at any point in the story, and I would have barely noticed. Aquaman was completely worthless and contributed nothing of value to the rest of the team. You could have easily given his spot to Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter and it would have made zero difference. Steppenwolf and his parademons flat out sucked. They were weaker than General Zod and his Kryptonian Army, yet shared the same evil plan (turning earth into a replica of their homeworld). No wonder Superman stomped his ass so quickly. This film is basically a crappier remake of Man of Steel (another DCEU film that sucked). How the hell can a film with a $300 million budget have such cheap-looking CGI effects (Cyborg's body, Flash's running, Superman's lip)? This film has only two saving graces: the soundtrack and the fight scenes, both of which are awesome, and neither of which are good enough to justify watching this film more than once. Watching Justice League is like seeing a dumpster filled with $100 bills burn for 1 hour and 59 minutes. I'm sure the studio feels the same way, since they're on track to lose millions of dollars thanks to this box office bomb. Go watch Thor: Ragnarok instead. Fuck you, Warner Bros.
N00b says read bottom review
A very solid yet characteristically panned film
I went to this film not knowing what to expect from it. Would it be a perversely entertaining shitplot like Suicide Squad? An epically atmospherized shitplot like Batman v Superman? A Marvelized yet well done curiosity like Wonder Woman? Or a predictable The Avengers ripoff? The answer, although inevitably tilting towards the last, happened to be none of those. I really liked the final product, even if it carried the weight of Warner Bros's past bad decisions about this franchise. The characters had a surprising amount of chemistry and were well used as far as possible (which is not much, but still more than expected), and the plot was simple yet efficient. As for the flaws, while I liked the baddie more than Loki or Ultron and saw Aquaman and Cyborg as quite impressive, not having their own movies made impossible that they came to be full-fledged characters in this. I also think it was painfully obvious where had Whedon inserted some of his jokes in Snyder's solemn version. However, these flaws were difficult to avoid, and they don't detract from the general vision. Almost more interestingly that the film, however, was its reception. I wasn't enough of a doofus to believe this film would have ever got the success of Wonder Woman (commercialized feminism is a powerful asset, my friends), but the fact that Thor 2 and Iron Man 2 and 3 had twice of the Rotten Tomatoes score given to Justice League was enough for me. I don't believe in conspirations about bribed critics and such, but if you don't believe there is a pandemic critical bias towards Marvel and against its competition, you are fooling yourself.
Locked in Mediocracy
As someone who had nothing but cynicism to show for the pieces of sh*t that were Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice I went into JL with mediocre hopes and left honestly satisfied. Seriously, if you were to completely discard the villain and Macguffin of Mother Boxes (thats a whole essay of nope) I'd say that this was the Justice League film I've been looking for. Steppenwolf was easily the biggest flaw there is absolutely no reason why the Big Bad shouldn't have been Darkseid at this point. I would have been more entertained by Mark Strong Despero and a giant CGI Starro. Real quick: WW was just as awesome as in her solo film. If you've lasted this long in my review let me apologize for my writing, I may not be the most articulate reviewer so please bare with me. Through the ups and downs I've always been a proud fan of the Grant Gustin Flash tv show and having said that Ezra Miller is a superb Flash...but not Barry Allen. I mean Miller's Flash is fine for like Wally/Flash or some other kind of character but imho he just didn't capture the character of Barry Allen like Gustn. I know he's not perfect but the Whedon's humorous moments definitely provided some much needed levity to the film in my opinion. Its my definitely my favorite Cavill Superman out of all of his films. Aquamana was okay but he I don't know what WB was going for with his character (feel free to criticize), Cyborg gets a bum wrap in other reviews I've seen but he was fine to me. I grew up on the original Teen Titans cartoon and in the third act when he said "Booyah," someone in the audience said "Hell yeah," and that put a smile on my face. So yeah, Justice League was a decent movie if you get past that lazy " threatening threat to ever threaten" letdown of a villain. Given that post credits scene though I'd like to see this DCEU continue and improve from here.
Hmm, let's see... Simplistic, derivative plot? Checked. Flat, one-note villain with a bunch of dumb mooks from space? Checked. Dramatic tension and villain menace both completely neutered by the constant quips? Checked. Superheroes snarking and bickering for half the movie? Checked. Too lighthearted to be dramatic, yet not enough to be truly funny? Checked. All par for the course for the MCU. Except for the fact that this was supposed to be a DC movie. After the interesting and unconventional but unappreciated Batman v Superman, the average Suicide Squad, and competent yet unremarkable Wonder Woman, Marvel vs DC debate has been rendered pointless. Now, DC has completely given up on having its own style and decided to ape Marvel's formula bit by every lousy bit. If you didn't like the Bv S Biatman, you're in luck! He's a funny guy now! Superman is back too; with less depth but more "hopefulness". Wonder Woman has no character arc to speak of, and, if you didn't read the comics, you won't care about Aquaman and Cyborg. If you don't like Marvel's by-the-numbers movies, do yourself a favor and skip this one too. If you like them, though, you're in for a treat. This one is utterly indistinguishable, except for the fact that, following DC tradition, it got panned by the critics. One can only laugh at the obvious bias.
The DCEU....admittedly, I don't really care for these films. For those unaware, the DCEU is an attempt by Warner Brothers to have their own cinematic universe to compete with Disney's MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). The DCEU (DC Extended Universe) began with Man of Steel, a movie that I personally did not like. Then there was Batman v. Superman which was just outright terrible. The tone was conveyed poorly, characters like Wonder Woman were only there for the sake of being there, Doomsday had no reason to be in this movie, etc. There was Suicide Squad which had characters that you didn't feel compelled to care for, the plot was confusing, Leto's take on the Joker only appeared for about five minutes....Wonder Woman was actually pretty good, though one part of me wanted the writers to push for her movie first before Batman v. Superman because it would've made more sense for her to be in that one. Overall, my qualms with the DCEU is that at some points, it tries to be too serious which makes it difficult to really care about whatever is going on, and the worst part is that they try to build their universe rather than making a good movie. With that being said....Justice League. While not bad, it has a multitude of issues. The plot is still hard to follow. Essentially, you have these three boxes referred to as the Mother Boxes that when brought together, results in major devastation. Trillions of years before the main story line, a villain named Steppenwolf tried to invade the Earth, but was defeated by the Atlantians, Amazonians, and early man. Each one takes a respective box into hiding, guarding them in the event that Steppenwolf would return to obtain them. Alright to get this out of the way, Steppenwolf is a terrible villain. He is generic, boring, and he really has no large goal beyond destroying the Earth for reasons no less than because I'm evil. Really, a majority of the villains from the DCEU films thus far are either poorly written or boring. I guess that's one thing that the DCEU has with the MCU that is having boring and bland villains (though the MCU did slowly get better with representing their villains examples being Ego, Vulture, and Hela). Because of Steppenwolf's blandness, I had to look up what role he played in the comics. For one, he was actually Darkseid's uncle. Something that I don't recall the film bringing up. With the plot, while it was more simplistic, it was still somewhat confusing. While they gave a brief description of the Mother Boxes, they don't fully delve into what makes them that important enough to keep them out of Steppenwolf's clutches. The manner in which the league brought Superman back from the dead was convoluted, and it was overall clunky. So, while it is by no means the worst out of the DCEU, it still had its issues that kept it from being perfect. But it was great when they weren't trying to push for an expansion of the shared universe the films take place in.
Great Characters, Bad Plot
The Justice League Movie is DC's attempt to regain favor with the fandom while also trying to catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and while the DC Extended Universe has made some significant progress with the game changer that is Wonder Woman, Justice League doesn't quite manage to live up to either what the DCEU has proven it can be or the MCU's Avengers, or the DCAU's Justice League. However, as the title hinted at, that's has nothing to do with the League itself as the film does a pretty damn good job at giving each member their own, back story, personality and personal goal. While having the smallest amount of screen time even Superman is a big improvement in contrast to how he was handled in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. The cast also had some pretty great chemistry as I really believed that these characters were friends despite only knowing one another for a few days in universe. While BVS did nothing to make me want to see Aquaman, The Batman or The Flash movie Justice League got me invested in them so I do want to see where their journey takes them next. The one weak link in the film, in my opinion, is Ray Fisher as Cyborg, he was very wooden and dull which resulted in a number of scenes that I'm likely going to skip over when I buy the film on Blu-ray. Everyone else, however, did a fantastic job. The plot on the other hand is terrible. Its way to short, its hard to fallow despite having a very simple premise with a villain that is more generic then most of the MCU villains combined, (which is not helped that the MCU has given us some really great villains as of late), the most of the plot seems to be more interested in getting to the next action scene rather then telling a story. However, these problems are a direct result of the studio apparently demanding that the film not being over 2 hours and the film will likely be better fleshed out when its comes out on Blu-ray and DVD so you really can't blame Snyder or Whedon as they did the best they could with what they got. And truth be told, unlike Suicide Squad or BVS I wasn't at all bored as, again, the characters were great and kept me going until the end. Overall Justice League is a very entertaining film and I recommend checking out if you get the chance. Sure the plot is a convoluted mess but it's also charming and fun and really, that's all it needs to be. :)
Multi-track Drifting: The Film Series
Between this and Wonder Woman, some wind has finally gotten in DC's cinematic sails, and to that I say better late than never! Like WW before it, Justice League has its fair share of problems too, like the often-discussed weak villain and a divisive Flash, but frankly there's not really a dealbreaker here. For me at least, Gal Gadot finally earned her Wonder Woman stripes here, building off of inspiring people to not give up on themselves, and she serves as an excellent foil and co-lead with Affleck's Batman, now free to act sane in more than just bit-part cameos. Jason Mamoa's Aquaman is gruff and very devil-may-care, probably because DC's very determined to have this version be free of the infamous and ill-deserved stigma Aquaman's had for decades, while Ezra Miller's Flash sometimes feels annoying with too much awkward humor, but when he shows his uncertainty, vulnerability, and youthful inexperience to the world of superheroing that's where he really shiens. And Fisher's Cyborg, though brooding over his cyborg-ness, never feels like some tryhard emo edgelord, and when he finally goes "boo-yah" at the end, it feels like something the character would say in the wake of his character development rather than just a forced homage. And honestly, "not being a tryhard" sums up this film very well. It lets the uplifting scenes and moments that distance it from the dark and bitter initial Snyder films come organically, without feeling forced like those constant reminders that locations are uninhabited. And when I got to hear snippets of Danny Elfman's Batman theme or John Williams's Superman theme, it really did feel like the DC films had come into their own at goddamn last. Frankly as a straight, standalone superhero film I liked it better than Thor Ragnarok. So definitely don't be shy or hesitant to see it. This is the kind of group superhero film we've been waiting to see from DC, and hopefully Warner Brothers will maintain the forward momentum from this and Wonder Woman as they continue on.