Justice League

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  • Justice League

    SPOILERS ABOUND:




    Very schizophrenic film, part Zack Snyder, part Joss Whedon.

    It's impossible to know which parts are whose, but it's a fair bet that the most serious moments, as well as the most visually iconic shots, are Snyder's, whereas the moments of unfunny, self-aware, try-hard humor are Whedon's. The former are good, the latter are bad; pity is, there's a lot of the latter.

    The best scenes are the introductory Batman sequence, which is note perfect in look and in Batman's truly fearsome demeanor, and the battle between the revived Kal-El and the Justice League, in which Superman himself is powerful and pitiless. Grim, iconic moments. Awesome.

    The inverted Council of Elrond scene, with Batman making Boromir's case, is quite strong as well.

    While the Marvel-like, intended-to-be-funny, self-aware moments fail, some of the dry humor (often courtesy of Batman) works rather well. A few big-ticket moments later on ("This isn’t the plan" / "No, Master Wayne, this the team.") have a real emotional punch.

    It's a pleasure to see Wonder Woman -- whose one shortcoming so far has been the Rey-like tendency by the Warner Bros. movies to make her too powerful -- soundly beaten by both Superman and, individually, by Steppenwolf.

    She and Batman are the best elements of the film, and their rapport is real and engaging, both in conflict and in reconciliation. The movie picks up significantly any time they share a scene together. Indeed, it's fair to say that Affleck and Gadot carry this picture.

    And I still believe that the Snyder/Affleck Batman is the best cinematic take on the character. This version has both the most fury and, deep down, the most self-loathing; a palpable sadness, and loneliness, and melancholy; all of which makes this portrayal the most heroic, IMO.

    Likewise, I've always been a fan of Snyder's take on Superman, and this depiction continues that portrayal faithfully. Cavill and and Amy Adams remain very fine in their roles.

    Even Cyborg is done surprisingly well, especially given that I expected him to be the weakest link of the team and a poor fit.

    As it turns out, the worst characters are, not coincidentally, the ones who are furthest removed from their Bronze Age comic-book traditions: Aquaman and the Flash. These have Whedon's fingerprints all over them, I'd say.

    This Aquaman is a patchwork character, at times a working-class tough, then a slang-speaking hip urban sort, then an unconvincing king of the seas -- really a composite of wildly different visions that don't mesh at all. Perhaps a different actor could have fused them together; this one can't. (By contrast, in her one scene, Amber Heard is excellent as Mera, both beautiful and aristocratic.)

    And the Flash, while written to be funny, is simply annoying, a mixture of a poorly conceived character and a completely miscast actor. What a fall from the easygoing heroism of the Barry Allen of the comic books. Even the Grant Gustin version on television is better written and better acted than this Ezra Miller take. The actor's unconvincing delivery makes already unfunny lines unbearable. Presumably the movie tried to use him to throw a Cisco Ramon element into the team, and failed utterly. He ruins every scene in which he appears. Even the suit is a dreadful design.

    I always go into DC films with a charitable outlook, because I grew up with these characters. But for me, this one is only so-so at best. I'd still easily take it over any Marvel crapfest, but it's my least favourite of any of Snyder's superhero work (however much is still his and not Whedon's). It's definitely the one that's most obviously targeted for a younger audience.

    I had a feeling that the misguided "Too dark! Too serious!" criticisms of BvS would negatively impact this movie, and I was right. Despite its own shortcomings, the Bruce Timm Justice League animated series from 2001-2004 remains the best portrayal of this team.

    YMMV

  • #2
    Re: Justice League

    It might not crack $100M this weekend. Hard to believe. Where does the DCEU go from here?
    "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray." - Prince

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    • #3
      Re: Justice League

      Originally posted by Furious Anjel View Post
      It might not crack $100M this weekend. Hard to believe. Where does the DCEU go from here?
      Part of that is Marvel's carpet-bombing of the genre. I mean, when they're churning out one movie after another on what seems like a monthly basis, and they're all interconnected, how much room is there for other superhero fare?

      Then again, I've never liked Marvel's characters nor their type of humor, so I don't get their success at all.

      But it's a bit like Facebook for social media or YouTube for video channels: it's all about whoever gets there first. DC should have put together its Justice League movie ages ago; the trick would have been getting to market before the first Avengers film came out.

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      • #4
        Re: Justice League

        Originally posted by karsten View Post
        Part of that is Marvel's carpet-bombing of the genre. I mean, when they're churning out one movie after another on what seems like a monthly basis, and they're all interconnected, how much room is there for other superhero fare?

        Then again, I've never liked Marvel's characters nor their type of humor, so I don't get their success at all.

        But it's a bit like Facebook for social media or YouTube for video channels: it's all about whoever gets there first. DC should have put together its Justice League movie ages ago; the trick would have been getting to market before the first Avengers film came out.
        There was room for Wonder Woman. The Fox and Sony superhero movies seem to do fine. The DCEU is suffering from self-inflicted wounds. They picked the wrong guy to create this universe and refused to course correct after the response to Batman v. Superman.
        "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray." - Prince

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        • #5
          Re: Justice League

          Originally posted by Furious Anjel View Post
          The Fox and Sony superhero movies seem to do fine.
          Isn't that all Marvel stuff? That just adds to my point about market saturation. The X-teams established themselves long ago too. What's left for yet another new superhero team?

          It also uses up the types of characters and abilities that can be introduced. E.g., the Flash was the first speedster, and Quicksilver a cheap rip-off. But because Quicksilver got to the screen first, it was the copycat character who introduced the wonders of speed powers to the audience, leaving Flash trodding well-ploughed movie ground.

          Or alien invasions -- one can only see that so many times before it starts to feel routine.

          However, I agree with this, but in reverse:
          Originally posted by Furious Anjel View Post
          The DCEU is suffering from self-inflicted wounds [. . .] and refused to course correct after the response to Batman v. Superman.
          Have you seen the movie? In fact, I'd say that they overcorrected -- and in doing so, they alienated both audiences, both those who like dark & serious and those who like superhero comedy.

          Like I said, this Justice League is a multiple-personality film with pieces that don't fit together. By introducing so much Mavel-type humor, it alienated fans like myself who hate that approach and liked the previous DC films precisely because they were more serious and intense; but it also had no chance of winning over those who prefer the Marvel superhero-comedy style, because they are already amply served by Marvel's movies-of-the-week.

          Don't forget that DC already tried a full-on Marvel-ish film a few years back (Green Lantern), and that was an utter flop, the lone good element being the incongruously serious Sinestro.

          I don't blame Whedon exclusively for all this (after all, Snyder allowed Eisenberg's out-of-control antics to foul up BvS, which was otherwise quite strong), but Whedon's fingerprints are all over the worst parts of this patchwork quilt of a film.

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          • #6
            Re: Justice League

            Originally posted by karsten View Post
            Isn't that all Marvel stuff? That just adds to my point about market saturation. The X-teams established themselves long ago too. What's left for yet another new superhero team?

            It also uses up the types of characters and abilities that can be introduced. E.g., the Flash was the first speedster, and Quicksilver a cheap rip-off. But because Quicksilver got to the screen first, it was the copycat character who introduced the wonders of speed powers to the audience, leaving Flash trodding well-ploughed movie ground.

            Or alien invasions -- one can only see that so many times before it starts to feel routine.
            Yes, there are a finite number of stories but how you choose to tell them is what matters. I don't buy the argument that the DCEU is having problems because the Marvel properties got there first. Aside from Wonder Woman, they've put out material that has generated mixed (at best) reactions from audiences and critics. At some point you have to own up to your mistakes.


            However, I agree with this, but in reverse:

            Have you seen the movie? In fact, I'd say that they overcorrected -- and in doing so, they alienated both audiences, both those who like dark & serious and those who like superhero comedy.

            Like I said, this Justice League is a multiple-personality film with pieces that don't fit together. By introducing so much Mavel-type humor, it alienated fans like myself who hate that approach and liked the previous DC films precisely because they were more serious and intense; but it also had no chance of winning over those who prefer the Marvel superhero-comedy style, because they are already amply served by Marvel's movies-of-the-week.


            Don't forget that DC already tried a full-on Marvel-ish film a few years back (Green Lantern), and that was an utter flop, the lone good element being the incongruously serious Sinestro.

            I don't blame Whedon exclusively for all this (after all, Snyder allowed Eisenberg's out-of-control antics to foul up BvS, which was otherwise quite strong), but Whedon's fingerprints are all over the worst parts of this patchwork quilt of a film.
            I really don't want to frame this as a Marvel (jokey and colorful) vs. DC (mature and atmospheric) argument. That brand war is limited to a tiny percentage of moviegoers, aka fanboys. Most people couldn't pick Whedon or Snyder out of a lineup. They're making decisions based on familiarity with the source material, marketing, and word of mouth.

            The fact of the matter is that Man of Steel changed Superman's personality into something unrecognizable to the casual fan, Batman v. Superman tried to cram multiple movies into one, and Suicide Squad was written in six weeks.

            Past mistakes and a so-so marketing campaign probably contributed to Justice League's lackluster weekend more than the quality of the movie itself. Things might been even worse if Wonder Woman had flopped.


            The DCEU needs to focus on showing their characters in the best possible light and creating stories that resonate with audiences rather than "Wouldn't it look cool if..."
            "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray." - Prince

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            • #7
              Re: Justice League

              How much does the Ben Affleck controversy come into play here? With DC's most exciting characters coming together, somehow this should be a lot bigger. Admittedly, I actually like the DC characters - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Flash better...especially when I was a kid.... but somehow, Marvel generates more excitement because they seem to do a better job with their movies quality wise. The Superman character in Man of Steel was humorless and nothing like the heroic lovable superman I that I loved in the Richard Donner versions.

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              • #8
                Re: Justice League

                Originally posted by Friday View Post
                The Superman character in Man of Steel was humorless and nothing like the heroic lovable superman I that I loved in the Richard Donner versions.
                There was a whole thread about Man of Steel that discussed this, and it came up again in a BvS thread. Even as a kid I found the Donner Superman to be corny and got sick of him; these days, those films are unwatchable, except for nostalgia. They don't hold up any better than the Adam West Batman TV show of the '60s.

                I thought that Man of Steel was excellent and frankly finally did the character right.

                Remember, Superman Returns was basically a redo of a Donner-type movie, and it was awful. You can't bring back that type of Superman filmmaking anymore, unless as a spoof. Even by the time of the third Christopher Reeve movie, there was nowhere further to go with that corny approach. And that was decades ago.

                I'm repeating myself, but the best mix of serious Superman and the few grown-up traits of the Donner character are to be found in Bruce Timm's Justice League animated series of the early 2000s. That remains the sole example of Justice League done well (and that includes the pre-Snyder, rejected Justice League scripts).

                And for all that I do like Affleck's Batman, at least in BvS, that animated series did a much better job of configuring Batman's role in a Justice League setting than this new movie did.

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                • #9
                  Re: Justice League

                  This was disappointing.

                  A superhero film, or any film, is only as good as the villains/conflicts. The theatrics and CGI and loud soundtrack don't add up to much without that element. It kept Wonder Woman from hitting a direct bullseye even though it was otherwise good. And it hurt Justice League. Steppenwolf was lukewarm. Didn't even show much in the advertising. That's glaring. There's a reason why The Dark Knight and Superman I and II, and Spider-Man sequels are among the best of its class.
                  "I ask every producer I meet if they need TV specs they say yeah. They all want a 40 inch display that's 1080p and 120Hz. So, I quit my job at the West Hollywood Best Buy."
                  - Screenwriting Friend

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                  • #10
                    Re: Justice League

                    Karsten, I love the animated cartoon as well. Great writing. Hell of a show. Ever try watching animated Avengers or Guardians Of Galaxy or Spiderman Unlimited? Just awful. Makes you appreciate those Justice League cartoons all the more.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Justice League

                      Finally watched Man of Steel and Batman v Superman this week for the first time. Surprised at how much I enjoyed both. Superman is one of my least favorite characters, but I loved how much new characterization and themes these movies brought. Also, angry Batfleck. The rage was quite enjoyable. Plenty to pick apart, yes, but a good time when I didn't expect one. And I thought Wonder Woman was average. Not much bad about it, just didn't resonate with me.

                      But the themes, politics and character work that made those films interesting and different were all absent from Justice League. Which becomes about just two things: putting together the team, which is a long formality with little surprise, and saving the world, which is a complete disaster. The villain seemed like a last minute purchase from Dollar General. Never menacing. Boilerplate "must burn whole world" motivation. And it's another tired "collect the pieces" plot. And the pieces are powerful cubes. I don't read the comics, but what is with all these movies and their obsession with all-powerful cubes? You'd think this is what inspired the phrase "think outside the box," because of how many movies there are about chasing boxes.

                      The action scenes lacked structure and craft. It was just: OK, everyone go attack now, and we follow some one on one battles.

                      In summary, I don't think this movie did anything better than the three that preceded it.
                      Twitter: @jboffer

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                      • #12
                        Re: Justice League

                        I thought that JL was just "okay," and I'm a huge DC fan who really wanted it to succeed. Steppenwolf should not have been the villain because nobody cares about Steppenwolf. It should've been Darkseid or Brainiac. The CGI of his face was atrocious. The CGI on Supes' face to edit out his mustache was very off-putting and uncanny-valley-like. The story logic was non-existent in places. The stakes were never clearly articulated. The characters were interesting but poorly developed. The sudden shifts in tone were odd. Overall, it left me feeling "meh."

                        The director's cut of Batman v Superman was quite a bit better than the theatrical release of it. However, either way the movie still suffers from a weak story and the absolute worst portrayal of Lex Luthor in any media in the history of the character.

                        And that touches on another major problem that I've had with the DCEU; when they cast a character well, they cast them really well. When they cast them badly, they cast them really, really badly.

                        Gal Gadot - I had my doubts at first but she's very good in the WW role.
                        Batfleck - same here. Had my doubts but he does a good job.
                        Henry Cavill - he's cast well but he's given crap material to work with.

                        Jesse Eisenberg - I've never like him in anything other than Social Network. He is horribly miscast and does a horrible job with the character.

                        Ezra Miller - bad casting and he does a terrible job as Barry Allen. Grant Gustin's version puts his to shame (but Gustin is also a much better actor than Miller).

                        Jared Leto - had my doubts at first, and they were all confirmed when I saw the final product. It's not just the shadow of Ledger looming overhead; it's a crap version of Joker and Leto does a crap job with it.

                        Pretty much everyone in Suicide Squad who isn't Margot Robbie - bad casting, bad characterizations, bad material.

                        You don't really see this problem in the MCU. Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. Chris Evans IS Steve Rogers. Hemsworth IS Thor.

                        Most actors and actresses I see in MCU movies, I often find myself thinking, "I can't imagine anyone else in that role." Several actors I've seen in DCEU movies, I often find myself thinking, "God, I wish anyone else was in that role."
                        "Tact's just 'not saying true stuff.' " - Cordelia Chase

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                        • #13
                          Re: Justice League

                          It was... fine. Felt like an extended Justice League Unlimited episode, but not in a good way. Steppenwolf was a totally forgettable villain. I could make a really long list of reasons why its opening weekend was so low, but I'll just go to the top: lack of Superman in the marketing. Yes, fanboys and fangirls knew Supes would be back but I'll bet a decent amount of casual moviegoers did not. I'm not sure who thought it was a good idea to leave the most recognizable superhero in the world out of the ads. Lack of Superman probably contributed to the lack of a great money shot in the trailer.
                          "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray." - Prince

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                          • #14
                            Re: Justice League

                            It felt like a scattershot of introductions of the various characters that I would have liked to see in their own movie, but it didn't feel like a unified movie. The final scene hinted at what I thought would have been more interesting---the team up of super villains versus the Justice League. Viewers didn't realize there was a final scene and almost all of them left at the credits not realizing there was one final scene. Steppenwulf just wasn't that charismatic and it didn't even seem necessary for 6 superheroes to defeat him. I prefer the criminals with charisma a la the Joker, where there's a personality and interesting back story. Steppenwulf just snarls and has a bunch of bug creatures flying around.

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