A Kryptonian is a terrible thing to waste

 

Ah yes, the time is right I believe, for the gathering of Amazonians, Bats, Cyborgs, Atlantians, and Scarlet Speedsters. Did I leave anyone out? Of course I did, which is why I waited so long to put this review up. The posters are now displaying Superman, so I didn’t want to be the one to tell you what most of us knew long before this movie released. But I won’t ruin how he returns here, as I want you to experience that. I am going to try my best at a spoiler free review, and just give you my thoughts on a movie that has had two directors at the helm, which usually spells disaster in the way of re-writes and scenes being re-shot.

Two directors? Yes. As with most of this DCEU, or DC Extended Universe, Zack Snyder has been steering the ship for a while now. From The Watchmen To Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad, Snyder has been rounding out what some would say is his vision of the DC universe. He even had a producing credit for Wonder Woman. So love him or hate him, these movies are set in motion by this man. But honestly, I didn’t really enjoy most of these movies, with Man of Steel and Wonder Woman being the exceptions. Granted, the theatrical versions were generally cut short and butchered, leading to what the fans call the Snyder cuts(extended) of these films being released to home audiences to more welcomed reviews. But with Justice League, Snyder had to step away from this movie he loved and helped shape, in the worst nightmare scenario that would leave his heart broken into pieces. And that being the death of his daughter Autumn, who was only twenty years old. Realizing that he needed to take a step back and be with his family, we see another man enter to pick up where Snyder had abruptly stopped. And that would be Joss Whedon.

 

Some of you know him as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The creator of the short lived Firefly, or the not so great Dollhouse. Am I forgetting anything? Of course, The Avengers! Which is on the Marvel side of the cosmos. While both Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron were widely regarded as a success, some people thought that the comedy almost felt injected to break up the seriousness of the comic book related story, which would leave people bored because they might not be into the comics. I get it. It makes sense for a film to appeal to a broader audience, but it almost always means distancing itself from the source material, and leaving fans such as myself a bit upset. So just how much would Whedon have his hand in Justice League? From what I have read, more than most of us thought. But let’s get to the film itself!

Picking up as a sequel to Batman vs Superman, Bruce Wayne realizes with Superman dead, he needs to bring a group together to stop whatever future threats that the man of steel would no longer be here to deal with. We see in Batman vs Superman that some of these heroes have revealed themselves, or that Wayne had a lead on them. Diana Prince has already come forward as Wonder Woman, an Amazonian demigoddess who has helped from the shadows here and there since 1918, during the first world war. Gal Gadot once again is exceptional as Wonder Woman here. The videos shown are also depicting The Flash and rumors of Aquaman. In between following up on these rumors, Batman has been fighting an unknown presence spreading itself around Gotham city. These flying bug looking humanoids are being shown almost as if they are hunting something, or someone. Is it time for some old fashioned Batman detective work? Sadly not much, as Wonder Woman reveals what they are, and who they work for, and what is coming. Huh. Not much for guess work. I guess they need to keep the ball rolling to try and fit what they can in this two hour film. So Batman and Wonder Woman split up to find the ones that could possibly help them.

While you get to see the usual dark and gritty Gotham city, the movie actually progresses to a lighter side, going away from that atmosphere depicted in quite a few of Snyder’s DC movies. I will say it is a nice change, and kept me interested in the set pieces that were shown. Right away we see some banter from our characters that screams Whedon, but so far nothing has felt too out of place or overdone like in the recent Thor: Ragnarok, which suffers greatly from nonstop comedy being forced upon us every five minutes. Or at least it felt that way. But the comedy dies off a bit when Bruce Wayne travels to a tiny fishing village depicting some very powerful ocean waves being smashed upon this sloshy mixture of rain and snow. A being that can breathe underwater, and talk to fish Wayne asks, but none answer. Well, a giant of a man answers, and we see Jason Momoa pick Wayne up like he was a toy. Arthur Curry is his name, otherwise known as Aquaman. Right away we see the direction taken almost as far as possible from what most fans would recognize as Aquaman. He wants to keep to himself, and at first has a dark and brooding attitude that is somewhat replaced by a guy who likes to drink and has small catch phrases such as- my man! The term Aquabro has been thrown around, and for a decent part of the movie I can see that, but you get to see another side of Aquaman later that would tell you he is running from something, and you realize he isn’t the king of Atlantis just yet. So a younger Aquaman that doesn’t quite belong yet.

The same goes for Erza Miller’s portrayal of Barry Allen, also known as The Flash. He is young, awkward, and looks as if he is still learning to use his powers as well. You could tell he was out of place, and it worked so well for this movie. He doesn’t belong, doesn’t want to belong, and doesn’t know how to belong if he did. Until he met Bruce Wayne. After revealing that he is Batman, Wayne extends an invitation to an immediate- yes!- by Barry Allen. At this point the small things matter. Allen’s quirky way of speaking, trying, hoping to connect to the team. Freaking out when it comes down to doing battle. Zipping around and letting the audience know that he isn’t your typical save the day and give a happy speech sort of hero. Or even a save the day and fade back into the shadows sort of hero. He just straight out isn’t a hero. But he wants to be, and that shines throughout the movie. The sort of disconnect lends him an ally in Victor Stone.

Ray Fisher portrays Victor Stone in a way that really made me go back and think for a bit. Victor, who is believed to be dead, was brought back to life by his father, scientist Silas Stone. Complete with certain alien technology that is at first unknown, but would later be part of the plot to drive the story onward. Cyborg, similar to Flash, doesn’t know where he belongs in the world. With unlimited knowledge and his cybernetic body constantly upgrading and changing, it is more than enough to drive a person mad. Trying to cope with himself, you see the anger and frustration hiding behind a calm and collected voice. I will say, there was too much CGI involved with Cyborg that left him a bit, unrealistic in a movie where unrealistic is the norm. They could have easily used a plethora of Cyborgs to draw inspiration from via the comics, that looked way more human, and would have fit a bit better than what we get. Cyborg is a pretty big driving force behind the Justice League in this film, and outside of the CGI aspect, I am happy with what we see here.

While we are on the subject of CGI, our main villain in this movie is Steppenwolf. A giant being who reveals himself to be the successor to the old gods. If you have read some comics, you should know what this leads to. Sadly, it is only briefly mentioned. Steppenwolf is all CGI, and just doesn’t work well when translating to the fight scenes while we watch him travel around to a certain island, or underwater to a certain kingdom, or especially when fighting our team of hopeful heroes. Voiced by Ciaran Hinds, I can say that on that front he did as well as he could here. Like a few of my friends, I thought that a certain someone played a better villain, even if only for a brief moment. So we have our team now, an established villain driving the plot of the usual world destruction, and everyone waiting for that special moment of our favorite Kryptonian. Speaking of which, if you were let down by the Superman you see in the previous story, worry not. You will see a nice return to form, and I think most will be very happy here. Given the continuing story line from a not so great Batman vs Superman, I didn’t have my hopes up.

 

I will also go on to say that Joss Whedon did adapt the story and screenplay some, and went on to re-shoot a good portion of this movie. So in fan terms, if the movie is bad, it will be blamed on either Whedon or Snyder, and the same if it goes on to do well. I see it as this. I think that both played their strengths and showed some of their usual weaknesses that each are known for. For what we get out of the movie, yes, I could tear it apart. But on the other hand, it is so much better than I thought it would be, especially in the DCEU realm, where only Wonder Woman is the better film. But we will save that for my ranking of 2017’s comic movies! When most movies go through hard development times or a change in directors, it usually spells disaster. Justice League does its best in holding those pieces together, and driving the DCEU forward, for better or for worse.

8.0

Good

  • A fitting return for Superman
  • Nice set pieces, more than dull gray overtones
  • The combined score led to some old and new themes

Bad

  • Steppenwolf was terrible CGI, and a bad villian
  • The length of the movie led to quite a few quick cuts
  • Post credits scene makes me worry for the next installment
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