Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Justice League

Built from the worst foundation possible laid by the disastrous Man of Steel and the trainwreck which was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's a wonder that Justice League is even watchable let alone entertaining. Don't get me wrong, the latest from "visionary" director Zack Snyder is beset with multiple problems, but thankfully being a dumpster fire isn't one of them. Despite issues with character, plot, editing, acting, and cinematography, Justice League does produce a flawed yet entertaining film bringing DC heroes together against a common threat. It's not the follow-up to Wonder Woman DC fans were hoping for, but it's a fair bit better than I expected from Zack Snyder and company.

The threat chosen by the four (count them four) credited screenwriters is the film's first major obstacle. A C-List villain at best, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), a poor stand-in for the more imposing Darkseid, is almost entirely forgettable while his plans for uniting three disco cubes to destroy the Earth is goofy as hell. At least his legion of fear-eating Parademons gives someone for Batman (Ben Affleck) to hit (as the Dark Knight is pretty impotent against the big guy).

The film has quite a lot of ground to cover in introducing three new heroes in the Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), resurrect another one (Henry Cavill), introduce the villain and explain his purpose, fit-in the Amazons, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and a criminally-undeveloped Mera (Amber Heard), and somehow leave to time for everything to come together somewhat naturally. It's a mixed success. While entertaining, there's barely any resemblance between Miller and his comic counterpart or Momoa and any previous version of Aquaman. And why does the Flash need armor? More of a plot device than character, Cyborg is included basically as a cheat to push the story along when necessary. When the new characters are put with at least one of the big three things work out better than when they are forced to fend for themselves.

The rest of the team we've seen before. As with Batman v Superman, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Affleck's Batman continue to be the strengths of the franchise. Despite the retconning that makes no sense in having the world respect Superman as a great hero (despite never actually being one over the previous two films), Cavill fills the role a little more naturally the third time around (even if Snyder can't help but keep the Man of Steel's murderous streak alive). And, because this is a Snyder film, the love/hate relationship between best bros and/or mortal enemies Batman and Superman turns on a dime whenever the script needs it to.

While the film offers two post-credit sequences, there are no surprises here. Wild speculation on an appearance by Darkseid or another DC hero unexpectedly showing up to join the climactic battle turn out to be groundless. While it's probably a good idea not to have shoehorned a character in unnecessarily (like Doomsday in BvS), the lack of anything unexpected is a bit of a letdown. Speaking of the climactic sequence, the odd world-ending whatchamacallit, and its random effects, reminded me a bit too much of Suicide Squad as DC struggles to find a way to create anything new in the final acts of their films.

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