I think it is safe to say I wasn’t a massive fan of the DC cinematic Universe prior to Wonder Woman. Every time I watch Man of Steel it gets a little better, but it still has some massive flaws. Batman V Superman has some positives but the negatives far out weigh them in my opinion. Suicide Squad has an ordinary start, a fun middle and a dumb conclusion. Then there is Wonder Woman, a movie that is still in my top ten movies of 2017, a movie that worked exceptional well on so many levels. I was nervous going into Justice League, I am not a fan of Zack Snyder’s films but I love the characters. I said going in to this movie, for me to like Justice League it has to do 2 things. One: I need to love the heroes, and two: I need to have fun, and I can safely say that those two things are achieved. The movie is plagued with issues, most likely coming from the behind the scenes drama surrounding the production. For those that don’t know, Justice League in fact has two directors, with Zack Snyder stepping away after principle photography to deal with a family tragedy. Warner Brothers then brought in Joss Whedon to finish the movie, handle the reshoots and work through the post production. Justice League definitely feels like the product of multiple filmmakers, but there are very few scenes that one can actually single out which filmmaker shot that scene. But Zack Snyder is the listed director and with that comes the credit and the blame.
The story centres around Batman assembling the league to combat an alien invasion, and with the help of Wonder Woman, he recruits Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. The story moves quickly from point A, to B and finishes at C and after the convoluted attempt at a political thriller in BVS, the story of Justice League is a lot more straightforward. The movie benefits from a crisp 2 hour running time, something that is a nice change of pace from the 2.5 to 3 hour run times that plenty of modern blockbusters consist of. The running time helps keep the story fast paced but also means that many story points are brushed over. We don’t get a lot of backstory or motivation for characters, especially the villain, Steppenwolf, who basically comes to earth because he wants to conquer it. Oh and impress his mother, I think, he talks a lot to his Mother and the Mother Boxes.
As stated above, the only expectation I had for Justice League was that I like the heroes and I have fun, which I did. The team came together in a rushed way, but it is still a way that works. We don’t have fully fleshed out characters in Justice League because for many of the characters this is their first time on screen together. We don’t get a lot of the back-stories of the new character, but you get more than the QuickTime files from BVS. I believe the team came together nicely, with not everyone happy to be on a team, or even being a team player, something I was afraid they would brush over. We saw these characters briefly introduced on Batman V Superman, but it looks like we should almost forget what we saw. Ray Fisher shows he has a lot of acting range as Cyborg, a relatively unknown comic book character to the wider audience. His performance though is brought down but horrendous CGI that draws you away from his acting ability every time he moves his head. The Flash brings a lot of humour to the movie, some of it misses but for the most part it works. Ezra Miller has a different take on the character from that of Grant Gustin on CWs The Flash, which is definitely needed. For a character that everyone has mocked, no one will be mocking Aquaman anymore. Jason Mamoa brings a really cool surfer vibe to the character; it is just unfortunate that we don’t really get a chance to learn more about who the character is. It has me excited to see him in a stand-alone movie. Unfortunately though for these new characters, there is a lot of assumed knowledge that fans of the comics or animated series have that the average moviegoer might not have.
Wonder Woman was a fan favourite in Batman V Superman and she crushed it in her solo movie and once again she takes charge. Gal Gadot has definitely come into her own as an actress and a leading lady. Batman has the biggest change in character from how Ben Affleck portrayed him in Batman V Superman to the way he brings the team together. One thing this movie gets right is the fact that Batman is human and his super power is the fact ‘he’s rich’. It was a ridiculous idea that he could defeat Superman so easily, so in Justice League Batman knows what his abilities are and they aren’t fighting Steppenwolf in hand to hand combat. I love Ben Affleck’s Batman though and hope to see many more films with him as the Dark Knight.
Despite Justice League being the fifth movie released in the universe, it could very well be the first with the team up movie ignoring most of what has come before it. There are still some tie ins, such as the mention of Wonder Woman’s life between WW1 and the events of the Doomsday attack or the fact that Superman died fighting Doomsday. Though large amounts of the film series continuity is ignored, probably for the better, but it may cause some confusion when you really think about it. The biggest difference is the fact that everyone in the world apparently loves Superman, regardless of the fact everyone hated him at the end of BVS. As I said, these changes are for the better in the long term, but short term the continuity can be a little frustrating.
I will never understand why Warner Brothers didn’t push back the release when Zack Snyder left the project. Even if you bring a new director in to pick up where Snyder left off that person will still need more than 6 months to get everything in order. Whilst I stated there are very few scenes that you can tell which director shot, there is one scene where the rendering of Henry Cavill’s moustache is so glaringly obvious that you know who was directing it. In fact, large amounts of the CGI looked rushed and unfinished that it really brings the movie down. In a time when we are seeing a return of practical effects, I don’t understand why more practical effects weren’t used in Justice League. Cyborg should have at least had a head and shoulder piece he could wear for close up shots, Steppenwolf did not need to be an all CGI character, regardless of his size and the Parademon’s could have used prosthetics and armour for up close shots and fight sequences. That’s only the characters; some of the background imagery is terrible and jarring to watch. Atlantis really didn’t look great, so I hope James Wan gets everything he needs if he wants to make Aquaman look fantastic. WB and DC should have taken their time to get this right; this could have been the difference for a lot of people whether this movie is a positive movie going experience.
Listening to a Podcast when Wonder Woman came out discuss the different ways that Patty Jenkins and Zack Snyder shot Gal Gadot I became aware of the major difference. Due to her small role in BVS I never noticed this but going back and watching her scenes and her in early Justice League trailers it was extremely obvious there was a difference. Jenkins never shot Gadot in a way that sexualised the character, we never see any direct shots of her chest or her bum and the camera never looks up her skirt. Zack Snyder did. There are several unnecessary shots that focus up Wonder Woman’s skirt, draw attention to her cleavage and even focus only on her bum. I noticed this the first time I saw the film and when I saw it again it was even worse. This really frustrated me to see such a glaringly obvious difference in the way these two directors view this character. If the goal was to convey Wonder Woman’s beauty through camera work you can do that without directly pointing the camera from a low angle up her bum. Her beauty is an important part of her character, but there is more to her than just her beauty.
Whilst I don’t think Justice League was a fantastic film, I definitely think it is a step in the right direction for the future of the franchise. Warner Brothers still has a long way to go in creating a coherent story with strong characters that the audience can enjoy but this is definitely the right path. The movie itself is fine, and nowhere near as offensive as some of the other DC movie, and it is apparent that Warner Brothers and DC are almost pretending that the first 3 movies do not exist. I hate the term “we made it for the fans” but in the case of Justice League I think it is true, this movie would work a lot better for those who are familiar with the source material. After my friends left the cinema they were questioning things that I was well aware of based on my prior knowledge, this was something I took for granted and they were let down by. I hope that we can see another Justice League film in the future, though this time it can be given better treatment than it was this time around.
If you are a fan of DC or Comic Book movies then you have already seen it, but if you are interested try and go with other excited people. If you aren’t a comic book fan, I would say skip it.
Justice League scores a 6 out of 10
Thanks for reading my review of Justice League. What were your thoughts? Did you love it? Hate it? Or just have dumb fun with it? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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