Justice League (2017) Review

Justice League has finally been released. It is the fifth entry in this DC movie universe. It is no real secret that this film had a lot of problems before and during the production of this movie. I wasn’t a big fan of Batman v. Superman but I didn’t hate it. I remember leaving the theater with the feeling that I needed to see the movie again because I was more confused than anything. It’s clear that the negative reception to that movie greatly affected this movie. So what did I think about this movie?

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Justice League is good. It’s not great but good. The problems with the movie are there from the beginning with some of the choppy editing. It’s no secret that there was a studio mandate that this movie had to be two hours or under. The movie does achieve that but at the cost of some fundamentals. The plot was always seemingly paper thin with a simple alien invasion story. But with a lot of edits, the character building elements aren’t as fleshed out and ultimately hurts the film.

The actual Justice League team does work though. Seeing Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash is a joy to see. Each character does get a chance to shine. We are already familiar with Batman and Wonder Woman and their characters are expanded on here. Batman is now more self aware of what a jerk he has been and trying to redeem himself after the debacle with Superman. Wonder Woman has come out of the shadows and becoming a much more well known hero around the world. The Flash is probably the next to get the most development as he super speed makes him look like he has ADD. Being the one hero without actual battle skills, it was always a relief to see him get flustered at some of the going ons. His more goofy elements are balanced out with serious scenes with his incarcerated father. Cyborg is the most dour and rightfully so as he is no longer a man and doesn’t understand himself. He never gets too serious as you understand his frustrations and he is quick to help out as soon as trouble hits his door. Aquaman probably gets the least screen time out of the five. There is a quick exposition scene where you understand his backstory but that is a lot left on the table.

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Then there is the Superman of it all. It’s no secret that Superman is in the movie. Without giving much away, he is not in that movie that much. He’s also not in the movie too little either. The movie does get a kick in the pants once his character becomes much more of a focal point. We see varying degrees of Superman. We see a scary Superman that pretty much solidifies everyone’s fear of this alien. Then the Superman we have all wanted Henry Cavill to be finally shows up and it is a sight to see.

As mentioned earlier, the plot is a bit of a mess despite being a simple story. It would be interesting to see as to what this movie was actually like last year before all of the changes. It would also be interesting to see if they had delayed the movie to accommodate the changes more. There are a lot of characters moments that could have been elaborated on. This definitely could have worked for the villain; Steppenwolf. A fairly generic bad guy who only has one mode and that is world domination. That may be fine but there could have been some more character put into him.

Speaking of Steppenwolf, this is another problem and that is the CGI. A lot of the graphics looks rushed and shoddy. These are especially evident in the scenes that had to be added or reshot. There were some instances that took me out of the movie. None that were ever too bad where I couldn’t enjoy the film but still noticeable. Just another reason as to why the movie should have been delayed.

But what we are left with is an uneven but enjoyable film. It does have a lot of problems. When I left the theater I did not leave with the same feeling that I did when I left Batman v. Superman. I instead left with the feeling that I wanted to see it again because of how much I enjoyed the movie. Better yet, I wanted to see where they took these characters in future films. If you have a film universe, that is arguably a win.

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SCORE: 7.5/10

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At This Point…I Don’t Care Whether Ben Affleck Stays as Batman

There has been a lot of back and forth about Ben Affleck being Bruce Wayne/Batman. Playing the role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and the forthcoming Justice League. Rumors have persisted since last year that Affleck has been frustrated and does not want to continue to play the role after Justice League. Obviously this is bad for business as Justice League has yet to come out and you really can’t have one of the main actors talking about leaving the role. It just doesn’t look right and casts a cloud over the movie which already has enough problems going for it. The news popped up again right before the cast of Justice League was set to appear at San Diego Comic Con and of course Affleck denied he would be leaving.

I was a big champion for Affleck when he was casts for the role. Other than being a billionaire part, there are many things that Affleck and the character have in common when one another. Plus when it comes to all the actors who have played the role before, Affleck is the one who looks the most like how the character is described in the comics and most other media adaptations. My one biggest complaint is Affleck’s age as you really can’t have an actor who is the latter half of his 40’s in such a physically demanding role. Maybe for a one off movie but not one you build a franchise around. Sure Batman does have the advantage of being masked, so you can hide it but still the actor has to be in some shape.

But as the rumors go back and forth about whether he is staying in the role, at this point I don’t care. If he decides to stay on, at least for Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman movie, then I’ll be happy. If he does not and moves on, then for being a great Batman. You really don’t want an actor who does not want to be there, staying in the role. WB has now been shown that they do not need to rely on the Batman crutch that they tend to rely on. Wonder Woman was the biggest movie in summer 2017 and Aquaman is looking to be another success for the studio in 2018. I guess we will all know a few months after Justice League is finally released. Plus the studio has a unique story way of replacing Ben Affleck with a different actor.

 

Justice League Trailer Takeaway

First thing first, no Superman. We all know that the Man of Steel is in the movie and probably more than a cameo. They even brought Henry Cavill out at San Diego Comic Con 2016 to show that he was in the movie. We know Lex Luthor and Lois Lane both play important roles in the movie. We even see a brief shot of Lois Lane looking towards the sky. Maybe she’s looking at her returned love. Who’s to say? But I can commend Warner Bros. on playing coy about Superman.

But other than that, I think it was a good trailer. We see how Batman is the one to bring the team together. This was hinted at in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. We still don’t know the extent of Wonder Woman’s role in forming the team. She really does not play that much of an element in the trailer. Instead it mainly focuses on the three new heroes who were introduced in cameos in BvS.

The Flash was always going to have the hardest time. The superhero already has a hit television show on The CW. We even see that they have the same origins with the father being in prison after being falsely accused of murder of Barry’s mother. The way that The Flash’s powers work in this universe make him much more faster than any other live action incarnation. Plus Ezra Miller is the total opposite of what Barry Allen traditionally looks like and younger as well. He does look much like Robin than Allen but he looks to be Batman’s sidekick in the movie.

Cyborg is the one who gets the least amount of screentime in the trailer. I figure this may be due to the heavy special effects nature of his character and these shots might not be done. But we do get a sense of his abilities and what he is capable of. In BvS it looked like a Mother Box (powerful tools used by the New Gods…it’s complicated) helped form him into what he is now. We know that the forces of Apokolips play an important part in this movie as the main antagonist but it makes you wonder what Cyborg will function as.

Aquaman looks to be the life of the party. The one who gets off on the thrill of battle. Nothing cooler than seeing Aquaman ride on top of the Batmobile while Batman can only smirk. There is a quick shot of Mera in the trailer as well. It is known that a Mother Box resides with the Atlanteans but we do not know Aquaman’s status with Atlantis. It will be interesting to see his dynamic with Batman as he seems to grate on Batman at best.

We also see a lighter side of Batman in this. I was not a fan of the way Batman was in BvS. Talking about how “you’re not a man” and “men are brave” and all that. It was all a little too xenophobic for me. But this movie seems to have taken a step back. While Batman will probably not be cracking jokes, he does have a dry wit about him. This is apparent in most of his interactions shown in the trailer with Aquaman, The Flash and Commissioner Gordon. By the way, J.K. Simmons looks great as Gordon.

There is not much to the trailer other than mostly battle scenes which are good and bad. Hopefully WB does not do what they did with BvS and ruin all the set pieces before the movie even premieres. Justice League looks to be fluffy fun which is something that the DCEU can use at the moment. Remember The Avengers in 2012, there was not much in terms of plot when it came to that moment. This movie looks to be following suit as well as assemble the team (and possibly resurrect Superman) and kick ass. I honestly hope this movie does not suck.

The DC Extended Universe and Bat-Problem

Batman is my favorite supehero of all time. But now I’m getting sick of Batman. The one issue that I’ve had with Warner Bros. is their over reliance on Batman. When the DC Animated line of movies first began, they were exploring different characters in the DC Comics pantheon. However somewhat low sales on titltes such as Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, halted other projects. Note that none of these were outright flops. So WB doubles down on Batman animated movies. This carries over into the animated TV projects as Batman got a series that flopped and is basically the main star of Justice League Action. 

So with the news that a Nightwing movie is in development, the previously announced Gotham City Sirens and The Batman, it looks like WB is just relying on their crutch character once again. I first became concerned when immediately after Man of Steel was released, it was announced that the next movie was going to be Batman v. Superman. But as time went on, they announced a slate of DCEU movies and surprisingly Batman wasn’t on the list.

But after the releases of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, it seems like WB is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Grasping at the straws of things that did work (Batman, Harley Quinn) and losing focus on fleshing out the universe. I understand the reasons, Batman is a cash cow. Guaranteed to make money and garner attention. But at what cost?

Not to make too many comparisons but look at what Marvel Studios is doing. With each phase they continue to take risks with characters that are relatively unknown. Even WB TV is fleshing out unknkwn DC Comics characters and with great success. Now a TV show and $100 million movie are two different things but still shows that if the product is good, it will resonate with audiences. Suicide Squad could have been this but the whole thing was a jumbled mess and it focused more on the Batman villains in the movie than anything else.

I’ve tried to be pretty optimistic about the DCEU but the more news comes out, the more I’m worried and frustrated. Now Warner Bros. is a major studio and all their focus should not be on films based on DC Comics characters. But they are in a kitchen with a plethora of delicious foods but with many different chefs all wanting to do their own thing. It’s been said many times that there needs to be a vision for these films. So until then it just seems like they’re just resting on what works with Batman but not others. But time will tell. 

I’m Now Worried For The DC Extended Universe¬†

With all the recent news coming out about the DC Extended Universe, I’m no longer in “wait and see” mode. I’m now officially worried about this cinematic universe. I loved Man of Steel and more ambivalent towards Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and have grown to really dislike Suicide Squad. So I am more about where this universe is going. But The Flash movie has now lost two directors and getting a page one rewrite. Ben Affleck has left directorial duties on the upcoming Batman movie. Suicide Squad was such a mess because of the studio being reactionary about the reception of Batman v. Superman. The DCEU is a ship that is moving but there is no singular voice and thus it doesn’t know where it’s going. 

I’ve already made my opinions about Ben Affleck stepping down as director known. The Flash losing another director and getting a page one rewrite raises some eyebrows. I can applaud the execs at Warner Bros. not rushing something as they tend to have been doing ever since the announcement of Batman v. Superman. But a complete rewrite of the script? Then there is the Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) splitting into two movies with Black Adam starring Dwaynr Johnson. 

Warner Bros. is in the business to make money. Makes total sense. But their biggest problem is rushing to a billion. Man of Steel didn’t make a billion so let’s scrap a pure sequel and instead let’s introduce a new Batman, introduce Wonder Woman and lay the foundations for Justice League while also paying homage to The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman. That’s a lot and probably the film’s biggest shortcoming. 

It has been said time and time again that there needs to be a central figure in charge of these movies. Too many cooks in the kitchen is what’s making these discombobulated. Is there hope for the DCEU? Of course. These are some of the most beloved heroes and villains in superhero fiction. But there needs to be action done and quickly to help right thr ship. 

Thoughts About Ben Affleck Not Directing ‘The Batman’

So earlier this week it was announced that Ben Affleck would not be directing the solo Batman for the DC Extended Universe. It really was not that much of a surprise considering his recent flip flopping statements about the film. How the film might not be made if the script wasn’t good enough and then how he was definitely making the film. So it was all very cluttered and just flat out confusing. But when announcing that he would not be directing the film, it was said that he would be involved as a producer and presumably his script will be used. But there are various reasons why he probably did not direct.

  • Directing and starring in a film is a daunting task. Many filmmakers can and have done it before to various results. But I haven’t seen a director star in a $150 million plus action film. That has to be rough.
  • Clashing with the studio. All you have to look at is Affleck’s comments about the status of the film and there is something off there.
  • Live by Night was a failure. Commercially unsuccessful and critically just meh. Another big budget movie starring Affleck. This may have shook his confidence.
  • Personal issues. All you have to do is read a tabloid.

So is it a shame that Ben Affleck is not directing the solo Batman movie? Who’s to say? Presumably but these things are a crap shoot. All there is to do now is focus on getting a director that can bring a unique vision to the film and also gel well with Affleck. Fingers crossed.

Justice League Image Revealed…But What Are They Looking At?

2017 is upon us and that means it is time for more information about blockbusters to be revealed. Other than a set visit and certain images, not much has been revealed about the upcoming Justice League. We know the lineup, we know the villain and the basic plot. But with what is known, there are still a lot of questions especially concerning Superman himself. 

We see in this image that the team is leaving some sort of ship and are staring into a field. Well where was Clark Kent/Superman buried? In a field. Is this a subtle way yet not actually showing the team going to see the body of the Man of Steel? We know that Superman isn’t dead per se but his role in the movie is being kept under wraps. This is similar to the Luke Skywalker situation in The Force Awakens.

Either way it is a nice image of the team before the one key member returns. Justice League will be released in November.