Even though I did find Justice League entertaining enough, there’s no denying there was a certain amount of disappointment leading to the build-up and not being able to see what was originally intended, not to mention the deleted footage seen in the various trailers. If you go in just expecting a insubstantial popcorn flick, it’s fine, but it certainly did not live up to the title.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 120 min. – $44.95 | March 13, 2017
Date Published: 03/09/2018 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE — 3.5/5
Justice League was the culmination of a rushed shared universe as DC clearly wanted to catch up to rival Marvel without putting in the hard work of building up public interest and trust and just laying the groundwork for solid filmmaking. We did get some of that in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (sans the stupid Pa Kent death scene) and while I did thoroughly like Batman v. Superman: The Ultimate Cut, that too had too many problems to ignore. And then there’s the ugly stepchild that was Suicide Squad… another project where the studio stepped in an attempt to ape the success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
And then there is Justice League, a project where the drama going on behind-the-scenes will, some day, be more interesting than the movie itself (a la Alien 3). If you didn’t already know, Zack Snyder started the production and later Joss Whedon came in where the film underwent major reshoots, albeit due to a personal tragedy in Snyder’s life. Still, based on the trailers, there was plenty cut out and will unlikely ever see the light of day and anyone hoping for some “Snyder Cut” are deluding themselves.
As for the movie we did eventually get, it opens with a couple of kids interviewing Superman with their cell phone camera and here we get the preposterous and laughably awful CGI jaw-line of Superman (HENRY CAVILL) distracting what otherwise could’ve been a charming scene. Following that, we’re introduced to our new and lighter version of Batman (BEN AFFLECK) attempting to capture a Parademon, those insect-like beings we saw in his nightmare sequence, and correctly deduces that these are scouts and that an invasion is coming.
We also get reacquainted with the heroic Wonder Woman (GAL GADOT) saving the day and later the pair must put together a team to stop an oncoming threat we learn is Steppenwolf (CIARAN HINDS), now on Earth, wanting to collect three boxes that, when put together will… well… end the world. Yawn.
In any case, thanks to Lex Luthor’s files from BvS, Bruce tracks down Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (JASON MAMOA) but is initially unable to persuade him as well as speedster Barry Allen aka The Flash (EZRA MILLER) while Diana attempts to recruit Victor Stone/Cyborg (RAY FISHER), a part man/part machine as the result of an accident and put back together by his scientist father (JOE MORTON). But even though this is a team with powers or abilities, can they defeat Steppenwolf without the Man of Steel?
Beyond the behind-the-scenes chaos and drama, as a movie, Justice League is a noticeably Frankenstein movie with two distinctly different philosophies or styles. No matter how much Joss Whedon had said his direction was in keeping with Snyder, there were many instances where his style was, to be honest, a bit lacking. For instance, the rooftop fight with Batman just looked off from the too bright lighting to the cheap look that, in comparison, made the sets on Batman Returns look more realistic. Then there’s the humor which didn’t always land or a side “story” with a family dealing with the invading Parademons nearby.
Initially this was supposed to be the first part of a two-part story but with the lackluster performance (box office, critics and audiences) by Batman v. Superman, it was simplified and that included its villain who was merely setting up Darkseid. Steppenwolf was a rather weak big baddie and worse yet, a completely CGI baddie, many times poor visual effects. I feel sorry for Ciaran Hinds whose talent, doing only the voice, was utterly wasted.
As someone who collects and has motion picture scores on his (now old school) iPod, I was severely disappointed in Danny Elfman’s score which I found rather uninspiring and lackluster despite interjecting some more classical cues such as the Batman (1989) and Superman (1978) themes, the former just sounding so out-of-place. Shame we’ll never hear what Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) had in store.
Now, it may seem like I hated the movie but that’s more hatred for knowing that this could’ve been epic and instead it’s just a ‘fine’, entertaining enough, popcorn action-adventure film… named JUSTICE LEAGUE and banding together iconic characters for the first time in live action form.
It is that aspect, seeing the chemistry that does develop between the League and that is where the magic lies in an otherwise lackluster blockbuster film and if I wasn’t a DC fan, I’m not entirely sure how much interest there’d be considering we are just meeting and getting to know three pivotal new characters. But, at the very least the acting from these newcomers showed some promise, particularly Ezra Miller (set, at least right now, to get his own film directed by John Francis Daly/Jonathan Goldstein) and Jason Momoa and his James Wan helmed Aquaman film coming in December 2018. Ray Fisher did alright for what little he’s given and considering he is playing part machine and in motion-capture pajamas (as he described them).
The returning cast was a mix bag. Gal Gadot is as glowing and stunning as ever as Wonder Woman and shows why, along with actual good storytelling, her solo film was a rousing success and a sequel is coming out next year and Ben Affleck… who just looked tired and uninterested. Frankly, he was in his element with Batman v. Superman giving a commanding performance, here he just didn’t seem to care for this more light-hearted version.
The supporting actors were serviceable: Jeremy Irons, whom I hope gets more opportunity with Matt Reeves’ The Batman project, ditto on J.K. Simmons debuting as Jim Gordon (sporting a weird wig); while Amy Adams, although playing a pivotal role when Superman eventually does return (spoiler alert!), and Diane Lane weren’t utilized to the best of their talents.
In the end, it would appear the studio knew they had a mess on their hands and it was too late to go back because the better course of action after Batman v. Superman’s failure was to take delay Justice League and come up with not only a different script, push it down the line perhaps after solo Flash and Aquaman movies but also get a new filmmaker in that chair. As much as I respect Zack Snyder and from all accounts seems like a great man, he was not the right person to spearhead what turned out to be a rush DCEU (or whatever they want to call it).
As it is, Justice League does have its entertaining moments but my enjoyment stemmed from my DC fandom and seeing these iconic characters together and appreciating some of the Easter eggs placed in that might be overlooked by the general audience. For those folks, this film was throwaway entertainment and easily over and done the next day. Hell, it’s unremarkable even to a fan like me…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover. Inside is a code for the Digital HD copy.
Deleted Scenes (2:04; HD) of “The Return of Superman” with a recently resurrected Clark/Kal-El in the Kryptonian spaceship presumably retrieving his classic suit (in the background is his black one) as well as his appearance to Alfred as we saw in numerous trailers.
Road to Justice (14:10; HD) – DC comic creators (including Geoff Johns and Bruce Timm) explore over fifty years of the Justice League, fro comic books to animated adventures to their cinematic debut.
Heart of Justice (11:52; HD) – Looks at the heart, soul and mind of the Justice League with the cast (inc. Affleck, Cavill, Gadot, Miller, Simmons) and filmmakers (inc. Deborah Snyder) sharing their admiration for DC’s iconic Trinity: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. This also contains some behind-the-scenes footage.
Technology of the Justice League (8:14; HD) examines the variety of gadgets from Batman’s arsenal to Cyborg’s alien tech. Rather too short and doesn’t get all that in-depth with the creation of these props and vehicles.
Justice League: The New Heroes (12:24; HD) has Ray Fisher take us on a personal tour to meet the newest members of the League: Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg.
Steppenwolf the Conqueror (3:03; HD) – Ciaran Hinds and the filmmakers reveal the story behind mankind’s ancient enemy and the League’s greatest challenge. The featurette is as thin as the villain…
Scenes Studies (15:16; HD):
Each of these are short featurettes examining various aspects from the return to Themyscira hundreds of years after we were introduced to it and inhabitants in Wonder Woman to the resurrection of Superman and his battle with the League.
Suit Up: The Look of the League (10:21) centers on the designer as he explores the innovation and artistry that went into creating the costumes of DC’s iconic heroes.
4K VIDEO – 5.0/5, BD VIDEO – 4.75/5
|Justice League jumps into action onto the 4K format presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2160p high-definition transfer. Not too surprising that this visual-fest, for better or worse, does translate quite well onto Ultra HD boosted by the HDR offering brilliant colors while detail was incredibly sharp where you can see the scratches on Batman or Wonder Woman’s costumes. The Blu-ray is impressive as well and while not as sharp by comparison and more noticeable grain (not that that’s a bad thing), but the 1080p transfer still was great.|
AUDIO – 5.0/5
|Both the UHD and Blu-ray discs come with a Dolby Atmos track, plus DTS-HD MA 5.1 for systems unable to carry the former, and it’s an imposing experience that ranged from the few quieter moments, such as Bruce and Diana walking along the lake espousing exposition, to the action-centric bedlam which utilizes each of the 7 channels with the front speakers for much of the central action and rears for ambient noises and Danny Elfman’s bland and lazy score.|
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Even though I did find Justice League entertaining enough, there’s no denying there was a certain amount of disappointment the leading to the build-up and not being able to see what was originally intended, not to mention the deleted footage seen in the various trailers. If you go in just expecting a insubstantial popcorn flick, it’s fine, but it certainly did not live up to the title. This 4K Ultra HD release at least does have excellent video and audio transfers and the bonus material were decent enough, but lightweight.