Monday, November 20, 2017

Crabby Movie Review: Justice League

The worst movie in the history of movies...?

 If you believe all of the negative buzz this film has been receiving for the past few months, it must be, right?

 Actually, it's not that bad.

 I know that's not exactly high praise, but my kids had no interest in seeing this film, and my wife flat-out refused to go with me. These are not signs of positive buzz. (Luckily, I do all of the laundry and dishwashing, so I have a strong guilt card that I have been known to play occasionally.) The vibe of the audience was one of "I know it's gonna suck, but how could I not see a Justice League film....?"

 And....I think that most of the audience left happy. I didn't hear a word of complaint as the full house of 265 people left the theater. (Yes, the movie is pretty much plotless, and there are tons of truly dopey things that happen, but you can overlook these things when you're having fun.)

 Fun. Something that has been sorely lacking in the DC cinematic universe.


 The film follows Batman's attempt to form a team to oppose the impending invasion of Earth by Steppenwolf and his Parademon army, which was hinted at in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. We get the whole "Getting the band back together" montage as Bruce Wayne and Diana (Wonder Woman) Prince travel the globe recruiting Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg, and after having a rough go in their first encounter with the atrocious-looking Steppenwolf (More on that later...), Batman cooks up a truly ghoulish plan to dig up Superman and resurrect him.

 That's pretty much all that there is. JUSTICE LEAGUE is basically THE AVENGERS (Villain leads an army of faceless drones serving a higher evil in an attempt to conquer Earth.), except it's nowhere near as good as that film. Which is not to say that it's bad.....I think THE AVENGERS is as close to a perfect super-hero film as we've gotten, and certainly one of the best times I've ever had at the movies. JUSTICE LEAGUE isn't in that league (Ha ha), but it was fun in it's own right.

 The good:
I think Ben Affleck makes a great huge, crabby, older Batman. I hope he stays with the franchise.
Gal Godot shines as Wonder Woman, who is the heart and soul of this team.
Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller killed as Aquaman and The Flash. Their background fist-bump at the end had me smiling like a big doofus. Yeah, The Flash costume looks awful in photos, but it works on film. Miller and Momoa's humor was much-needed, and much-appreciated.
It's always good to see J.K. Simmons and Jeremy Irons....Hoping for a lot more of them in Matt Reeves' Batman movie.
Luthor!!! (I wasn't as against Jesse Eisenberg as most people. Sorry.)
The Injustice League!!
A Green Lantern in the Themyscira flashback!!!
The camaraderie of the team was awesome.
The Parademons.....creepy!
The Amazons...badass!
Amy Adams...too freaking cute! I would go see a Lois Lane film 100 times.
Danny fucking Elfman using musical callbacks to his own Batman score and the John Williams SUPERMAN theme. Elfman's BATMAN wasn't the first musical score that I noticed, but it was the first one that I bought, and played the shit out of. And the cassette from 1989 still works....

 The bad:
Mother Box...why so big?
Steppenwolf...why so big? (This is a huge pet-peeve of mine.....gigantic movie characters. They're usually CGI, and the very fact that they're twice as big as everyone else just draws attention to the fact that they're not really there. They would look terrible and phony if they were human-size....making them bigger just makes them twice as fake-looking. DC has been to this well in SUICIDE SQUAD, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, and WONDER WOMAN. Was Ares big or regular sized...? I forget, but he looked fucking awful. Hire a guy the size of John Cena, who is fucking huge, and use him, then CGI in a real actor's face, maybe use forced perspective like they did with Gandalf and the Hobbits in the LORD OF THE RINGS films...It wasn't perfect, but it was better than this shit. Steppenwolf looked fucking horrible....why would you use CGI to create a character that is just a guy in a suit? Maybe....put a guy in a suit???? Hollywood needs to realize that CGI is a tool in your toolbox, not the answer to every problem that you have. Steppenwolf took me out of the film every time he appeared, which is a shame, since they had a legit actor playing him.)
To be honest, a lot of the CGI was terrible, especially the weird purple tendrils that were all over the place at the end...they looked like unfinished animatics.
Are all DC films now going to climax in completely uninhabited places? I loved how the human stakes in the battle were represented by one lone family. Even though there were supposedly a ton more conveniently located in one building that Superman could just pick up and move. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON pretty much gave us the last word on battling a gigantic bad-guy in a Russian territory, and did a much better job of dealing with potential casualties.
Superman. Henry Cavill continues to be a black hole of personality. His Superman barely registers...bad writing, yes. But also a very non-charismatic performer. He stuck out like a sore thumb among the rest of the actors. The mid-credits race between Superman and The Flash offered a glimpse of personality...if Cavill sticks around, I hope they can keep writing him this way. Also, the death and resurrection of Superman was unearned...I didn't feel a thing for this character, I didn't believe he was dead, and the only reason I cared if he came back was because the team needed him so badly. Superman is supposed to be a beacon of light and hope, not a dour sourpuss. Fix it, DC.

 A lot has been made about the relative contributions of Director Zack Snyder, who left the film after his daughter's tragic death, and Joss Whedon, who was brought in for last-minute rewrites and reshoots. Some of Whedon's scenes stand out like sore thumbs, thanks to his distinctive dialogue and the horrible CGI used to cover up Cavill's beard and mustache, which he wasn't allowed to shave during Whedon's reshoots. Regardless, this is Hollywood....most films these days are made by committee. Whoever did whatever, they made a much more enjoyable film than I was expecting. The montage at the end had me smiling ear-to-ear. A hopeful future for the DC cinematic future....? We can only hope.

(By the way, my wife's take: "That did NOT suck!")

JUSTICE LEAGUE earns a healthy seven out of ten Parademons:

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