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So here we go again, more superhero stuff. A movie formula that plays out like a sideways scrolling arcade game from the 80s that you pump your time and money into only to be met by the same kind of boss battle when you get to the end.
I’m sure we’d all agree that the road to Justice League has been a pretty rocky one. Starting with Man of Steel, which I’ve softened my stance on a lot. While a bit dark and dour I thought it wasn’t as bad as what a lot of people made it out to be.
What followed was a total clusterfuck in the form of Batman v Superman, Dawn of Justice, which really just tried to do too much by cramming a huge catalogue of source material into three hours. It did have some cool moments but in the end felt a bit like the cinematic equivalent of a cow pat. It was just shat out onto the screen and left us wanting to have a shower after we came into contact with it.
I did really like the casting of Ben Affleck, who I think is awesome, possibly even the best version of Batman I’ve seen since Michael Keaton and Henry Cavill is a great Superman.
Redemption came along in the form of Wonder Woman, a really well put together film with awesome casting, a lot of heart and while as formulaic as any other superhero film probably the freshest we’ve seen in a while.
So things looked like getting back on track for Justice League post-Wonder Woman. But what I think what we ended up with is a mixed bag.
Movie making by committee
Director Zack Snyder has definitely learned from his work on these films and even though Justice League is swollen with characters he’s very much streamlined his story telling. There’s less exposition and they let the pictures tell the character’s back stories. Some people might see this as a dumbing down but I get the feeling that the pressure was on for Snyder to finally deliver the DC superhero blockbuster that people expected and wanted particularly those who were bankrolling it. Hence all of the re-shoots you may have heard about that took place long after they thought they’d wrapped.
I actually like Zack Snyder as a director. I really liked his work on The Watchmen, even though creator Alan Moore hated it, although I get the feeling that he’s a cantankerous Rasputin looking bastard who hates pretty much everything. I also liked Snyder’s remake of Dawn of The Dead. 300 though, reminded me of a hen’s night where the entertainment was way overbooked, way too much heaving man flesh for me.
What I like about Snyder is the fact that he clearly has mad passion for the subject matter. He obviously loves these characters and I think in many ways some of his past DC movies have crumbled under the weight of his own ambition to pay homage to them.
Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon are on board for the screenplay and I think these are the guys that have worked to reign everything in. It’s like Snyder is the rich kid in the street with all the good action figures and Whedon and Terrio are his buddies from down the road that kind of have to make their own fun. Like Zack has He Man, Battlecat and Castle Greyskull but Chris and Joss are stuck with Man at Arms, a shoebox and their imagination.
The story goes that there’s a new bad dude in town in the form of Steppenwolf (he’s one of a larger group of villains who may show up in future movies if the franchise doesn’t tank) and he’s here to steal three boxes which have been hidden on Earth that, when combined, will enable him to wipe out the planet and terraform our home into a world more like his home. Batman and Wonder Woman realise that we’re pretty much fucked without the help of other meta-humans so they seek out the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to help take him on. Along the way we get answers to some of the questions posed at the end of Dawn of Justice and we meet Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash, who fill out the superhero team up.
And that’s pretty much it as far as the story goes.
Joining Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ezra Miller as the Flash and Jason Momoa who is great as Aquaman. Other supporting cast making their return include Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Jeremy Irons who always does a great, if not the best, version of Alfred.
We get a much lighter film here from DC mainly thanks to Ezra Miller’s wise cracking Flash. A lot of people, are saying he steals the show in this and I can see why, he certainly breaks up a lot of the superheroing with his character bringing the everyman vibe, as in that would totally be the way me or one of my mates would react to these situations if we so happened to be in the Justice League. But I didn’t like it. I think they’ve somehow betrayed the character of the Flash. Hardly a surprise though from the team who gave Jimmy Olsen a sex change and turned Lex Luthor into Mark Zuckerberg. Maybe it’s because this was released so close to Thor Ragnarok, which had some really funny moments, but I just reckon a lot of the wisecracking fell flat.
What I did enjoy was the obvious tension and clash of ethics and values between Batman and Wonder Woman and I wish they had delved into that a bit further. I also really liked Jason Momoa as Aquaman because he actually brought some life back into a character who hadn’t dated as well as some of the others in the DC Universe, even though most of the movie takes place on dry land and there wasn’t much Aqua stuff in the film.
I also really liked the poster art promoting the film, which was heavily influenced by Alex Ross who is one of my favourite comic book artists.
There’s not much depth to Justice League, it’s a big dumb popcorn movie. It’s got big dumb special effects and big dumb action with some fun elements thrown in to appeal to the test audiences. And that’s ok. But it’s only three out of five ok. I just feel like DC are trying to dig themselves out of the hole they were put in by some of the earlier movies in this series.
The elephant in the room
I do wanna talk about something that could be a minor spoiler really quick.
It’s really no secret that Superman is resurrected in this movie and you’ve probably read about the fact that Henry Cavill had to come back and do some reshoots while he was working on the latest Mission Impossible movie, which he had to grow a moustache for. So they were like “no worries mate, we’ll just put some dots on your top lip and use the magic of CGI to fuck that moustache right off!”
Sounds amazing right? I mean how far have special effects come?
Not that far it would seem, top lips are an obvious challenge to comp in. It looks weirder than a Tasmanian family reunion and once you see it you cannot un-see it.
I couldn’t help myself, I found myself fixated on Henry Cavill’s top lip with every scene he was in and it drove me mental. I just wanted to plant that seed among you guys, so if you go and see it it will drive you mental too. It’s a big part of the reason Justice League only gets three out of five.