Saturday, 18 November 2017

Review: Justice League

Justice League (2D)
Cert: 12A / 120 mins / Dir. Zack Snyder / Trailer

Well, this is definitely a film. (Warner Bros, you can have that one for the back of the DVD cover if you like). DC's cinematic interpreters bring their equivalent of Phase One to a head with the long awaited Justice League, featuring Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck's Batman saving the world from a horny god with three evil boxes*1 by recruiting The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and concocting a plan to exhume and resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) to lend a hand. There will be scenes.

First things first, Justice League is disposable, undemanding fun. Mostly. Gadot and Miller are by far the standout stars, the former arguably bringing the film's only real sincerity to her role, the latter some much needed humour. Cavill is on slightly shakier ground, although that's largely down to how the Man of Steel is treated in the film, and Batfleck still doesn't get his moment in the spotlight, sadly*2.

Things get off to a staggered start as the team are introduced one by one, as well as the threat they'll be facing, and it's there we begin running into problems (see footnote 1). With the best will in the world, the whole thing reeks of its re-writes, asking more questions than it attempts to answer*3. The customary act-three carnage begins in act-two, followed by a dip that's far longer than the breath-catching pause needed. The resulting finale is a brightly-coloured CGI panic-attack, with the team becoming little more than NPCs in a game you're watching someone else play. I didn't not-enjoy the film, but I have to admit to not actually caring about a single character, situation or plot point therein. And that's not a good sign.

Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon try to show DC's world in chaos, and succeed better than I think they meant to. Much like Superman's upper lip, Justice League is an imperfect oddity that's making the best of a troubled production, but never quite convinces…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Dawn of Justice.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you're going to watch a superhero movie, that massive screen will be the best place, yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Although DC's moving of the narrative goalposts has done the pacing no favours at all

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Jav Mefran's in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
^^ I found this amiable enough to be a 5/7 movie, but I'm taking a point off for Superman's CGI'd upper-lip. A ridiculous situation with an inexcusable outcome*4.

*1 Probably best if you don't ask. Much like David Thewlis' Ares from Wonder Woman, Steppenwolf is a CGI'd one-dimensional baddie with only half-dimension of actual character (think of a crossover of Malekith and Apocalypse), chasing a trio of macguffins whose only purpose is apparently to evoke memories of Marvel's Infinity Stones and Tolkiens's Rings. Without going into any detail, let's just say that his eventual defeat is brought about by a crisis in the writers-room when they realise that they aren't allowed the cojones to have any of their Heroes™ actually deal a killing blow to a sentient being (man, beast, god, or otherwise). It's an insult to not only the audience, but also DC's flagship characters. Well done, guys. [ BACK ]

*2 Although he's off again in Justice League. If you remember, Bruce Wayne's raison d'etre for killing Supes in Dawn of Justice was that, and I quote, "if we believe there's a one percent chance that he is our enemy we have to take it as an absolute certainty". Which is clearly mathematical (not to mention moral) horseshit. This time round he's learned his lesson of course, and during the discussion of digging up the body of Kal El with a view to bringing him back to life (don't ask), proffers: "If there's even a fraction of a chance it could work-". It's just as well Bruce inherited his fortune off his old man, because he sure as shit wouldn't win anything in a casino with that grasp of probability…
[ BACK ]

*3 To wit, and in no particular order of importance:
Q. Bruce Wayne and Alfred have quite a nice conversation near the start of the film about being left behind by a changing world. Was this going to be a running subtext at one point in the screenplay's development? Because it doesn't rear its head again.
Q. If Wonder Woman can move faster than bullets (shown in this film) and Superman can move faster than bullets (pretty much known anyway, I think), what exactly is The Flash bringing to this party other than sarcasm and millennial-angst?
Q. Why has Aquaman - the superhero who lives in the sea - got that straggly hair and beard? The barnet's not practical for swimming with, and he's getting out of the sea/river and just air-drying. He's going to smell like a wet dog most of the time.
Q. What the hell is Cyborg's dad playing at? Given that he's Miles Dyson out of Terminator 2, you'd think he'd know better than to arse around with robotics, 'trying to help'.
Q. Given that even the trailer throws in that gag about Diana Prince doing "nothing interesting" at the weekend, and the fact that the Bat-Signal can only realistically be used at night, why didn't Steppenwolf attack at 10:30 on a Monday morning? Or better still, during prison visiting-hours? The Justice League wouldn't be about, it'd be a piece of piss…
Q. Does… does Amber Heard think she's doing A British Accent™? Oh, mate… [ BACK ]

*4 Much like Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, it looks absolutely fine until the shot requires actual movement. Then it's like watching that devil-kid off the AA adverts all over again… [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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