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Movie Breakdown: Justice League (Noah)

November 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s hard for me to think anything but horribly negative thoughts about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as it is absolutely one of the biggest failures of a film, big-budget of otherwise, that I’ve ever seen. Zack Snyder and DC Comics could barely handle Superman and Batman on the big screen together, so I’m setting my expectations terribly, terribly low and hoping that I won’t lose any friendships over this one.

Post-Screening Ramble:

It’s an amazing sight to see a film company course-correct in real time. To use a gazillion dollar film as a public response to the allegations of “grim-dark” tone and bad characterization is a fascinating thing. And there is no doubt that Justice League, with it’s hand-off between Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon and it’s extensive re-shoots, is just this. DC knew it messed up, knew that its last few films leaned too heavily on early-80s darkness and tinkered with a film that would’ve followed suit to make it a beacon of the shining light of not-dark they’re hoping to be. To do so, Snyder/Whedon bring Batman (old and broken Ben Affleck) together with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot showing she’s the real deal again) to bring together a league of fresh-faced superheroes to do battle with a horned guy who wants to blow up the world for his mommy. It is, frankly, a rehash of every superhero movie up to this point and if you’re looking for narrative originality, you should steer your ship in a different direction. This isn’t a movie that purports to be anything but a classic get-the-team-together-to-fight-a-big-bad-guy, and that isn’t an entirely poor decision as Whedon uses the simplistic narrative box to build up the characters that will inhabit the DC Universe going forward. And hey, it works. The team of heroes that Batman and Wonder Woman bring together are energetic and interesting, funny and bad-ass, each gifted an original voice and the character actions to go along with them. Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen (i.e. Flash) is the stand-out, a nervous, awkward kid gifted with the ability to run super super fast, but lacking in the confidence to do so. Jason Momoa is a pleasant surprise, his late-film confession to the rest of his super-pals a strong moment of emotion in a film geared towards comedic levity. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) suffers from the enormous amount of CGI needed to bring the character to life, but Fisher manages to instill the living video game with some amount of emotional resonance. The CGI in the film is a problem. Scenes of Wonder Woman’s homeland look pulled from a 90s Myst knock-off and it isn’t a singular offense. It’s surprising, shocking even, that a movie that cost this much in an era dominated by computer graphics could look this bad. In the end though, for someone who whinged and whinged and whinged about how bad this film was going to be, it’s okay. It doesn’t do anything new, but it takes the DC Comic palate – dark and somber – and injects life into it in a way that refreshes the whole line, a way that strips away the darkness in a believable sense and sets the table for a new wave of films more in line with Wonder Woman than anything else.

One Last Thought:

DC and Marvel need to figure out their bad guys. This is the nth film from DC that features a bad guy who’s trying to blow up the entire world and goddammit, I’m sick of it. DC is full of great villains – Lex and Joker and Reverse Flash and a whole hell of a lot more street level baddies – and they don’t have to be seeking to blow up the Earth all the time. Just put some people in Gotham who are looking to kill Batman, or kill Flash or kill Wonder Woman and have them square off in an interesting way. Stop it with the gods looking to destroy everything, it’s boring and the entire movie watching world is getting exhausted by it.

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Movie Breakdown: Justice League

November 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

For a while now I’ve been trying to get myself excited for Justice League, but I just haven’t been able to get over the “yeah whatever” hump.  With that being said, I’ve yet to see anything about this film that makes me think it’s going to be a stinker.

Post-Screening Ramble:

It’s fine.  That’s my review of Justice League in a nutshell.  The film has plenty of things that work well – Gal Gadot’s attention-commanding Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller’s bumbly but charming Flash, Jason Momoa’s bro-y but entertaining Aquaman, a fairly lean plot (this is good since the run time is under two hours), actual chemistry between characters.  It also has a lot that’s not so great – an utterly boring baddie in Steppenwolf, video game-level CG, an awkwardly designed Cyborg. occasionally clunky dialogue, a lazy magic box MacGuffin.  I actually think that if you were to map it all out, you’d find that for everything the film gets right, it gets something else wrong.  That’s why, without a doubt, Justice League is the most average big budget affair that I’ve seen in 2017.  So, if you’ve been looking forward to it, you’ll probably be disappointed, as it just doesn’t do enough to be tagged as a home run.  If you haven’t been dying to see it, you’ll probably think it’s pretty good, as it doesn’t do anything bad enough to be called a failure.  Talk about an average affair.

Honestly, I have no idea if the DCEU is finally heading in the right direction or if they’ve taken another misstep with what they’re rolling into theaters this weekend.  All I can do is note that it’s fine.

One Last Thought:

Batman sure does seem rather under-powered in Justice League.  The guy is coming off a fight where he bested Superman AND he’s assembled a world-saving team, and yet he always seems in the way or like he might just get squashed like a bug.  It’s weird.

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