Justice League: A Review

Posted: 11/20/2017 in Uncategorized

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While Rotten Tomatoes, and  many a viewer, is tearing this film a new @#$, I have to say I quite liked it and that it is a very strong step in a very good direction. Flaws abound, CGI is still DC’s kryptonite which is baffling considering how far we have come technologically. Assuredly, there are narrative missteps along the way. The good with JL, however, far outweighs the bad and with any luck, the hopeful attitude that permeates this film will lend itself to return box office attendance. My opening offered, on to my review.

First and foremost, Henry Cavill is Superman. Full stop. His return was much heralded and the delivery presented due rewards. An altercation between him and his future team mates was just…inspired. Superman is pretty much a god and while he might not be messianic, he is unquestionably a source of profound, bordering on divine, power. This film allows for that while keeping his heart and humanity close. Cavill sells it and is unquestionably the mvp of this film. Sadly while his performance is so very solid, both in his personal moments with Lois (Amy Adams) and mother, Martha (Diane Lane); there is more ado  being made about his CGI’d out mustache. While even I must admit, it did not look great and considering scenes were shot pre-stache by Zack Snyder, baffling really – such a minor sticking point did not spoil his return. The manner in which he is brought back didn’t sit particularly well with me but the results cannot be argued with.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. She owns the role. Gadot delivers terrifically with a combination of empathy, grace and power. Her moments with the newer team members, namely Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) were perfect. She reaches out, encourages and supports, recognizing that she is asking complete strangers to risk their lives against overwhelming odds. That she could lead the group is unquestionable. The opening sequences with her foiling a terrorist group was superior and reminded the viewer that last year’s Wonder Woman wasn’t a fluke. Even the sequence with her in her civilian identity as Diana Prince,  as she speaks of ‘being boring’ and doing ‘nothing on the weekend’ killed. Her performance establishes why Wonder Woman II is being fast tracked.

Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne was a marked improvement from B Vs. S. He is on the road to redemption and acknowledges how wrong he was in his previous actions. That he heads the plan to bring back the Man of Steel says a great deal. His depiction is still a little too CGI reliant as the character is meant to be grounded and with the incandescent former delivery by Christian Bale, we know it can be done and well. His pushing Diana with taunts of her late ‘dead boyfriend’ serves to fire her up as well as bring the nascent team together noted via Cyborg stating “while you were being an asshole….” Affleck does reach a bit more this time around, particularly in his moments with Barry Allen and Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa). He reaches to both and his happiness at a better outcome with Barry is genuine. Momoa’s  Aquaman might be a younger version of the Dark Knight in that he is cynical, world weary and more than he appears.

Ezra Miller as the Flash was surprisingly better than I imagined. I have accepted Grant Gustin in the role on the small screen and honestly he has worked for said acceptance despite the current downward turn in quality of the tv series. When Miller was cast as the fastest man alive, I had misgivings and I still do as he is playing the Flash in a more child like fashion. His lines however were clearly ‘Whedonesque” including “I don’t fight really, I just shove and run really fast.” His later commenting on his phobias about “insects, dying and really tall” opponents slayed and was met comedically later by Batman’s declaration of the piece’s villain being “very tall”. The demonstration of the Flash’s abilities with lightning accompaniment were top notch.

Jason Momoa is not the Aquaman I would have liked but he does personalize the role, making it his own unquestionably. I did enjoy his terse, Nordic warrior/provider depiction far more than his “hell yeah” rock star later incarnation.  The “I can dig it” and “my man” references were puerile. The demonstration of his abilities however, particularly under water, were superior. Momoa is unquestionably an imposing presence and does garner enough interest to merit next year’s solo movie effort.

Ray Fisher also personalized his character, making Cyborg a tormented human being but one who ultimately will do the right thing. His moments with his father, Silas (Joe Morton) might have profited from more development but were nonetheless genuine. The performance by Fisher was on p0int as he struggles with no longer being fully human and having something within him that changes him daily. His moments with Wonder Woman and Superman showed the team chemistry that will inevitably define this franchise.

The narrative had ups and downs, including a mediocre CGI villain Steppenwolf. While Ciaran Hinds  busts his ass with strong vocal work, the video game limitations of the character’s face and  overall rendering detract from said performance.  The parademons however looked great and with the color tones/schemes that were vintage Snyder, they popped off the screen. The mass onslaught of said creatures brought the sense of doom one would expect from a superior and overwhelming invading force. Steppenwolf however seemed more of a plot device uniting past and present.  The mother box/unity arc was a mixed bag but the past segment in which various forces united to fight S.W. was stellar. The sheer promise of what can come from this segment honestly outweighed a lot of the flaws some might find.

While it is obvious that two directional hands were at play with this film, the end product doesn’t really suffer for it. Some balk at the brief run time and many, many cuts, even from the trailer sequences, but so much got done well that this is a non issue in my estimation. Justice League goes a long way in fixing much of what is wrong with the cinematic DCU. In found it to be simply outstanding and well worth your time.

Two end credit scenes deliver both a classic shout out and expansion of awesomeness to come.

 

 

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