Wednesday, November 22, 2017
The best way I can sum up JUSTICE LEAGUE is that it's not as bad as I thought it would be--but not as good as it should be.
What helps JUSTICE LEAGUE is that it's only two hours long, and filled with all sorts of plot. There's so much stuff going on that you have a tendency to overlook some of the film's weaknesses. First of all the heroes (Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg) need to be gathered together, and then the villain's grand scheme needs to be explained. And then there's the Superman sub-plot.
What hurts JUSTICE LEAGUE the most is the main villain. I have to say that Steppenwolf does not make this movie a Magic Carpet Ride. In the DC Comics Universe the character is associated with Darkseid, a nemesis I've never been all that impressed with. Even when I was regularly reading DC Comics, I never got into the whole "Outer Realms" stories--they were too outlandish and fantastical for me. Steppenwolf is another of those far too many comic book movie bad guys that seem to have unlimited power, but in the end wind up being fairly easy to dispose of. Steppenwolf is basically a Dollar General version of Sauron. His army of parademons (they reminded me of the flying monkeys in THE WIZARD OF OZ) serve the same purpose as the Trade Federation droids did in the Star Wars prequels--they're a non-human threat that can be killed by the hundreds without causing the movie to gain an R rating. Since there was so much at stake with JUSTICE LEAGUE, why wasn't a more well-known threat used, such as, say, Braniac? My theory is that the name brand DC villains are being saved for future films....but the way things are going, there may not be all that many DC movies headed our way.
When it comes to the good guys in JUSTICE LEAGUE, Wonder Woman absolutely comes out on top. Gal Gadot has more charisma than all the other heroes put together, and things brighten up considerably when she is on the screen. If there really is an official DC Movie Universe, Gadot's WW is definitely the true star of it. I enjoyed Ezra Miller's version of the Flash, mainly because the way the character is portrayed here is almost exactly the way he is in the Justice League animated series.
When I found out that Cyborg was going to be in JUSTICE LEAGUE, I wasn't too impressed...but I have to say that the movie (and actor Ray Fisher) did a very good job of making the character interesting. Jason Momoa's Aquaman wasn't the train wreck I thought it was going to be--but I'm still not going to be first in line to see the AQUAMAN movie when it comes out. As for Ben Affleck's Batman--with all the stuff going on in the story, he seemed kind of lost. Batman wouldn't be the type of person to go running around trying to get other superheroes to join him--that's more of Superman's thing. But, oh yeah, Superman couldn't do that here because he was killed off by Doomsday.
It won't be a big revelation to say that Superman returns (see what I did there?). In all honesty, though, it wouldn't have hurt this movie all that much if he hadn't made an appearance...it might have even helped it. I'm still not totally sold on Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel or Amy Adams as Lois Lane.
There where times during JUSTICE LEAGUE when the movie felt a bit schizophrenic--due of course to the transition from Zach Snyder to Joss Whedon during production. There's more attempts at humor here, and while some of it falls flat, a few of the lines did make me smile. JUSTICE LEAGUE isn't the overlong slog that BATMAN V SUPERMAN was. I would say it's worth going to see on the big screen. Overall, it's an okay film.
But...maybe that's the problem. This is the Justice League, for crying out loud. This should be a momentous production, one of the most astounding comic book movies ever. It should be more than just....okay.