Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Justice League

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Comic book movies make Rev. Ron happy!

Justice League – 5 out of 5

There have been so many superhero movies this year and I love every second of it.  Sure, there have been some that didn’t live up to my expectations but it’s still fun riding that wave of anticipation for their release.  Coming up to bat right after Marvel knocked it out of the park with Thor:  Ragnarok, DC has arrived with another installment of their shared universe with Justice League.  It was no secret that I had some issues with their other films (I’m speaking about Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad) but it seems that Wonder Woman was what the DCEU needed and it’s on course to be just as great at the MCU because I think that Justice League was a homerun (look at me, doing a sports metaphor).

                                                                                                    Warner Bros. Pictures
That's a lot of badass in one photo!

Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead and the world mourns his lost.  Meanwhile, Batman (Ben Affleck) stumbles upon bug-like aliens that are scouting our planet and they have a connection to three mysterious boxes that are scattered among the world.  These items, called Mother Boxes, are sources of great power and are being sought by a violent alien warlord named Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and if they fall into his hands, the planet is doomed to fall.  With the help of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Batman seeks to set up a team of heroes with The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).  Together, they aim to fight and protect the world from a threat that none of them are truly prepared for.

                                                                           Warner Bros. Pictures
I had my doubts about The Flash's armored suit but ultimately dug it and its
Injustice feel it has.

Justice League really captures the comic book feel that I was hoping for and reminded me greatly of how the team formed up during DC’s New 52.  The very simplicity of the story—there’s evil on the horizon, let’s get some awesome people together to fight it, the evil arrives, and the awesome people fight said evil—really marked an improvement of what we’ve seen before in the DCEU.  Don’t worry, I won’t be spending a lot of time comparing this to Batman v Superman…although, it was strange that the fight with Steppenwolf was resolved when everyone realized that everyone’s mother’s name was “Martha”—I couldn’t resist making that joke.  Additionally, I won’t deny that there were some sloppy moments in the film but the overall experience I had with it was a very positive and absolutely fun one.

                                                                                                     Warner Bros. Pictures
I like to imagine while Gordon is waiting for Batman he makes giant shadow
puppets with the Bat Signal.

After Man of Steel, the DCEU felt like it was rushing to establish its shared universe and that made things a little awkward and a tad shaky.  However, that initial wonkiness has paid off as Justice League presents a comic book world that feels very lived in and has history too.  Interactions between Batman and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) or Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons) give the sense that this world is nothing new and that Batman has a rich past of defending Gotham.  I also got this same feeling seeing Cyborg’s father; Silas Stone (Joe Morton), while at work at S.T.A.R. Labs and the brief interaction between Aquaman and Mera (Amber Heard).  This world has been built but this film really did a great job of feeling like it’s been existing for some time.  This element leads into there being a ton of great Easter Eggs and nods to the comic world.  These moments only strengthened the feel that there is a lot of history in this relatively newer cinematic universe.

                                                                                                                         Warner Bros. Pictures
"I also have a toothpick and magnifying glass attachment.  Swiss Army
Knives can suck it!"

I love the cast that has been assembled for this film.  Ben Affleck is still a great Batman/Bruce Wayne, Henry Cavill just feels like Superman at this point, Gal Gadot is still the one who is the most badass in the entire film, Ezra Miller is insanely fun and hilarious as Barry Allen/The Flash, Ray Fisher feels like he was lifted directly off the pages as Cyborg and Jason Momoa is incredibly cool and has the right amount of swagger as Arthur Curry/Aquaman.  Yes, he’s not the Aquaman from the comics but, dammit, he’s definitely Aquaman in my book.  The supporting players like Diane Lane and Amy Adams (reprising their roles of Martha Kent and Lois Lane), Jeremy Irons, Amber Heard, Joe Morton and J.K. Simmons all do a terrific job with their characters and help give life to the universe.  Finally, I really enjoyed Ciarán Hinds’ vocal performance as Steppenwolf.  The dude just has a really commanding and regal voice that fit the character excellently.

                                                                                                                     Warner Bros. Pictures
Some people bird watch.  Batman justice watches...which makes no sense.
It's literally just him looking for crime and for criminals to beat up.

From an action standpoint, JL didn’t let me down.  The battles are big and feel like they are splash pages that have come to life.  One of the best parts is how not a single member of the team is overused or felt like they were the primary focus.  The Trinity may be DC’s bread and butter but the Justice League is a team and the film definitely gives a sense that they were in it together and each gets the right amount of screen time.  Sure, sometimes the action moments are filled with Zack Snyder-ism that are common place is his films (slo-mo, etc.) but they were never done to an extent that they were a distraction or were giving the vibe that this was going to be a two hour trailer.  I can’t speak for whether or not this has to do with Joss Whedon having to take over after Snyder had to leave production for personal reasons but all the action just flowed so well.  And speaking of Whedon taking over for Snyder, you never would have known it because Snyder’s eye and trademark look is still plastered all over the film and Whedon did a great job capturing that when he took over.

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Don't let her wonderful and disarming smile fool you.  She'll kick your ass
and look cool doing it.

                                                                        Warner Bros. Pictures
Nothing made me feel uglier than having to look at that
stupidly gorgeous man on the big screen.
As great of a time I had with this one and as much as I love it, I’m not going to pretend it is perfect.  The story is functional and isn’t as convoluted as other installments of DCEU has had but there were some moments I would have liked to see expanded upon just slightly.  For example, I felt there was more to Aquaman we could have seen and maybe even some more of Cyborg.  As it is, however, I felt the story was more than functional.  Additionally, there are some special effects that feel a tad on the wonky side.  I never found any of the CG to be bad or distracting but there are definitely moments that felt a little off and not as polished as they could have been.  I was also not too keen on the score by Danny Elfman.  On one hand, it was cool to hear the old themes of Supes and Bats come back but, on the other hand, Elfman’s scores all sound the same to me so they become monotonous and generic in the end.  This element wasn’t an entertainment killer but it didn’t help the tone or the scenes.  Finally, my biggest complaint is stereotypical problem a majority of comic book films suffer from and that is the generic bad guy.  Steppenwolf may be voiced and brought to life quite well by Hinds but he’s held back by the fact he is incredibly one-dimensional.  Yes, he posed a formidable threat and the action as the team takes him on is great but there’s pretty much no development of him and there’s no exploration of his past or motives beyond a single flashback.  After that, he’s basically just swing his weapons around and making threats about destroying the world.  He works but I didn't find him memorable.

                                                                                                   Warner Bros. Pictures
"What?  I can't hear you.  I forgot to put ear holes in my helmet!"

Justice League isn’t perfect but it is damn entertaining and I found it a whole lot of fun.  It strikes the right emotional chords, it’s got some great action and appropriate doses of it, it feels like a DC comic and it really captures the essence and the core centers of all the characters.  In that sense, the film is able to be dark and have gritty moments but it never bogs itself down with this tone in an effort to be “adult” and, instead, mirrors the world of the comics—a world that has both light and dark moments.  DC’s approach to crafting their film universe has been vastly different than what has been seen before and it proved to be quite the gamble.  Granted, it did feel like, at times, the gamble wasn’t paying off but this installment shows that it’s starting to get some returns on its loses (Man, first a sports metaphor and now a gambling one?  I’m becoming a real boy!)

                                                                                                    Warner Bros. Pictures
I have no reason to include this photo other than Mamoa looks goddamn badass in it.

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