Take this how you will, fans of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice probably won’t like Justice League. It’s tonally different, the characters are different, everything is extremely different. If you liked Wonder Woman, you may be slightly happier? Slightly?
I’m assuming you’ve at least seen the trailers going into reading this review, but that’s about as spoilery as I’ll get with this one. I’m assuming also that you know about the director shake up and subsequent rewrites and shoots that happened, but that they still weren’t THAT different to garner a director credit change in the title cards.
DC Comics and Warner Brothers Entertainment has spent no small amount of money nor time on creating their cinematic filmverse. Despite several giant misteps with BvS, it seemed like maybe things were heading the right direction with Wonder Woman. (I’m one of those who really liked Man of Steel and will argue it’s merits and character, so know that going into this review also.)
Justice League had all the potential of continuing the bettering trend and taking some of that sweet sweet Wonder Woman hype to channel into the ‘greatest superhero team-up ever’. But it really didn’t really stick that landing well enough to take gold, but surprisingly an admirable bronze.
On the whole, the film was ok. Again, BvS set a really low bar but Wonder Woman an impossibly high one. So to really hit the mark, this one needed to be outstanding. If we hadn’t gotten Thor: Ragnarok this year, maybe I would be happier with it. Sure, this is when some of you will get very “well it’s not fair to compare Marvel films” and you are totally right. My comparison has almost nothing to do with what movie studio released the genre piece, but more that it can be done better and we know that.
All of the character development in BvS (ok I almost typed that with a straight face) is sort of thrown out the window early on. The brooding angry Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) we saw has been replaced by still not a very nice guy but one who’s not afraid to make stupid quips. This is important really in garnering the team spirit I guess, but it’s such a departure from what we’ve seen of him previously that it was shocking. But also I’m as shocked as anyone, the use of Danny Elfman’s classic Tim Burton Batman score served the Batfleck well. I never thought I’d say that, but here we are.
The addition of the newcomers – Aquaman Flash and Cyborg – was fine. Not spectacular, not amazing, not the best thing ever, but fine. You really need those individual films to understand who these guys are if you’re not a comic reader, comprehending not so much the backstory as their motivations.
Jason Momoa does what he needs to in Justice League, making us want more. Seeing him in action with fight scenes is fun, and hopefully his solo film will have much more.
Ray Fisher as Cyborg is arguably the best performance of the film. He brings to life a character we haven’t seen yet in live action film, and he does it admirably. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.
Ezra Miller is cheeky and energetic, his addition to the vrysrs business of saving the world is again, slightly out of kilter for the DCEU as it stands, but enjoyable. He gets the most jokes.
SCORE: 3 OUT 5, viewed in IMAX non 3D
This is when I’m gonna talk about Wonder Woman stuff, ok? So if you don’t want to know about my opinion on her use in the film, thanks so much for reading to this point, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your time on the internet.
Gal Gadot continues to be a strong point in the DCEU, but she is poorly handled by interim director Joss Whedon. Maybe you’ve seen some of the press the past few days about the costume changes for the Amazons (yes, we know it’s been 80 years since we first met them, and yes, we know maybe it’s spring and all that fun bullshit) but really, for the love of Hera why are there so many gratuitous ass shots of her? Seriously. We get it, she’s hot. She fights in a skirt, and yeah, sometimes that battle kilt is gonna show some upper thigh and lower butt, but it also seemed her hemline was a few inches shorter than it was previously. And I’m a fan of fantasy armor when it fits the character and narrative but this was NOT acceptable and pushes the use of the character back about 50 years.
My biggest complaint in minimal, a poorly veiled sexual innuendo of a comment delivered by Miller‘s Barry Allen/The Flash, stating that Bruce Wayne told him Diana is “thirsty”, which he stumbles over to change to “hungry”. It really didn’t need to be in the scene it appears in, and it left such a disappointing taste in my mouth I regretted not bringing a second flask.
The pacing picks up into the second act, and despite all the naysaying about the project ahead of time, I will admit it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say I ‘enjoyed’ it, but I didn’t hate it either. I could probably even argue for both sides as to why BvS NEEDED to be so dark in order for this to hit on the lighter side. I completely understand that part of the equation, that we can’t complain that the previous film was “too dark” and then complain again when this one is “too light”. There is a balance point in there somewhere, and I don’t know if DC/WB has found it yet.
Justice League opens worldwide on Friday November 17th 2017.
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