We understand that this one comes out a wee bit later than other sites – we apologize for it since we missed out on the media preview for Justice League and were only able to catch the movie once it was released to public. Today Alleef is going to review it – we appreciate the comments and differing views – just be civil aye?
Back in 2012, Marvel Studios mesmerized the world with The Avengers, the culmination of all their individual interconnected films into one ensemble superhero film on a scale no one has ever seen. 5 years later, DC and Warner Bros seeks to do the same. Have they succeeded?
Justice League is what comes after Man of Steel (2013), Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016) and Wonder Woman (2017) in what is known by fans as the DC Extended Universe or DCEU. The problem lies in the fact that most of those films were poorly received with the exception of Wonder Woman (which this writer believes to be extremely overrated due to its horrible third act). Justice League picks up a few months after the events that transpired in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice as the world is still grieving Superman’s death while Batman is recruiting metahuman allies against a looming alien threat. The Mother Boxes act as Justice League’s McGuffins similar to the Infinity Stones in the MCU.
It’s a simple enough premise and Justice League doesn’t stray too much from that formula until the closing credits. I do have to point out that the screenwriters don’t bother to explain some of the details and the 2-hour runtime makes the film feel incomplete and choppy as viewers are taken from one scene to another in a flash, making this writer think that the corporate mandate to cut it down shouldn’t have been done. Case in point, the Ultimate Edition improved Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice with scenes that flesh out the story and explains a few glaring plot holes. A longer runtime might have done the same for Justice League.
Although the opening credits state ‘A Zack Snyder Film’, Justice League had extensive reshoots by director Joss Whedon. The tonal inconsistencies are apparent for fans of both directors as the film looks like a Snyder film visually and aesthetically while some of the dialogue and jokes are clearly Whedon’s. They don’t particularly mesh well together but it’s not extremely jarring that it breaks the viewer’s immersion. Some scenes might be cringeworthy as the Whedon’s snarky banter clashes with Snyder’s darker ambience. That said, horribly-rendered CGI is like a mainstay for DCEU films at this point, plaguing Justice League with unconvincing visuals like digitally removing Henry Cavill’s moustache which made him look uncanny.
Justice League makes up for its underwhelming story with its portrayal of the characters. Henry Cavill’s Superman finally feels more inspiring and hopeful. Ben Affleck returns as Batman in a toned-down version of the Dark Knight who is less ruthless and murderous. Gal Gadot is excellent as Wonder Woman in what still remains to be the best casting choice to date in the entire DCEU. Ezra Miller gives audiences a version of The Flash who delivers a quip every time he opens his mouth. I was pleasantly surprised by Ray Fisher’s Cyborg.
These characters feel like their Justice League animated series counterparts brought to life. Wonder why I haven’t mentioned Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? He’s the black sheep, the weak link and the rotten apple in the bunch. He’s a surfer dude stereotype who is nothing like any version of Aquaman I know. As for the main antagonist, a fully CGI-rendered supervillain has never been a good thing (Doomsday in BvS, Incubus in Suicide Squad, etc) and the same holds true for Ciarán Hinds’ Steppenwolf. Minus the dodgy CGI, Steppenwolf does feel like a credible threat when he’s holding his own against the Justice League although his motivations are generic and his wooden personality will make people forget him faster than Malekith the Accursed in Thor: The Dark World (2013).
Danny Elfman composes the music for Justice League and its largely forgettable except for the opening montage, evoking Snyder’s brilliant Watchmen (2009) opening montage (Watchmen was severely underrated and I still think it’s one of the best comic book films ever made), and the reuse of iconic themes including John Williams’ Superman theme and Elfman’s very own Batman (1989) theme, a nostalgic treat for anyone who grew up with these classics.
As a comic book fan, I want to see comic book adaptations thrive be they Marvel or DC, Dark Horse or Image, or any other. It’s never good for a single company to have monopoly over the entire industry as that will stunt the industry’s growth. Same goes to comic book films, there needs to be healthy competition instead of the one-sidedness that’s currently prevalent. With Valiant Comics developing their own cinematic universe, Dark Horse is releasing a new Hellboy film in 2018 which will hopefully lead to a Mignola-verse and Netflix acquiring Mark Millar’s Millarworld including IPs like Wanted, Kick-Ass, Kingsman and more.
The best praise I can give to Justice League is that it feels closest to the comics than the DCEU has ever been to date. It is this writer’s opinion as well that Justice League is the best DCEU film so far. Justice League couldn’t have possibly measured to The Avengers but that’s not unexpected. I just hope the folks at Warner Bros and DC have a clearer picture of what’s in store for their next slate of movies or else it will crumble beneath the already flimsy foundations it’s built upon. (PSA: Stay behind after the film ends for 2 post-credit scenes!)