Justice League

Justice League (2017)
Justice League poster Rating: 7.2/10 (130,721 votes)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Chris Terrio (screenplay by), Joss Whedon (screenplay by), Chris Terrio (story by), Zack Snyder (story by), Jerry Siegel (Superman created by), Joe Shuster (Superman created by), Gardner Fox (Justice League of America created by), Bob Kane (Batman created by), Bill Finger (Batman created by), William Moulton Marston (Wonder Woman created by), Jack Kirby (Fourth World created by)
Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot
Runtime: 120 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Released: 17 Nov 2017
Plot: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

The DC films to date have been a little bit of a mixed bag, where the bag is primarily full of dried up faecal matter with the promise of a Polo mint mixed in somewhere if you can find it.  That Polo mint was Wonder Woman, but the tainted stench of the rest was still lingering around it making it a good film (and you can see my full review of it at HERE ) but not a great film.  Suicide Squad seemed entertaining at first, but was one of those films where you realised you were just grateful it wasn’t another Batman v Superman, so kind of got suckered into thinking it was better than it was (repeat viewings did not do the film any favours).  So we come to the troubled production that is Justice League.

On the positive side, this is the final Zack Snyder film in the DC film series.  Things can only get better from here.  However, the antics behind camera need to be touched before I get to the film itself.  After Batman v Superman scored so poorly critically, and then didn’t achieve that much hoped for box office return (this was a film that by very definition should have shot past a billion, but didn’t), WB suddenly decided that the Justice League 2-parter that they had been so hyped about was now just one film.  Snyder was seemingly out the loop on that decision, and interviews after the news broke had him still thinking it was two films.  WB were clearly blaming the flaws on him, but he was still contracted for the JL film, so had to stick around.  Towards the back end of production Snyder left the project for personal reasons (family crisis – look it up online).  The fact that he left almost two months after the tragedy seemed a bit strange.  Joss Whedon took over the final editing, and despite the fact his name isn’t listed as director, stories say he did a substantial number of reshoots at the behest of WB who wanted him to “bring some Avengers magic” to the film (they clearly didn’t see Age of Ultron).  Then the final cut dumped a huge chunk of film, and (apparently) an entire subplot involving Lex Luthor, to bring the run-time to around 2 hours.  With so much happening behind the scenes, how much of a film could actually survive?

The answer, sadly, is not much.

To summarise the ‘plot’ – a CGI badguy named Steppenwolf (if you watched the extended BvS on home release you will get some context, but for those who just saw the cinematic outing, just be baffled) is doing bad stuff and tracking down three cosmic cub….I mean boxes, to do some bad stuff.  Batman is recruiting the people he saw in those files he nicked from Lex in BvS to help fight, but first they have to find a way to bring Superman back to life.  This all involves a lot of fights, including with Superman who is a bit miffed on his return from the afterlife (as you would expect, given he finds he is still in the Snyderverse).  Whilst these fights take place, hardly any humans are in  danger, aside from one random Russian family.  Yup, the earth is seemingly populated by just superheroes, ancient gods, and a Russian family…oh, and Lois Lane (just about).  That, basically, is the jist of it.  A bunch of fights with barely any plot linking them.

The biggest problem with this film is that you can tell just by looking at it how turmoiled the production was.  The film is tonally all over the place as the mash of directing styles collides unconvincingly, and the lack of story due to a severed running time stands out a mile.  Remember how forced the introductions to the characters in Suicide Squad were?  Imagine that dragged into a two-hour film, and that’s how Justice League goes about teaming up these characters.  You can sense the studio interfering throughout, something that you didn’t feel with Wonder Woman earlier this year, and the general feel is of a film which they are just trying to get out the way so they can move on.

The cast are average at best, and dire at most.  I have no love for Cyborg in the comics, so they at least got that part right here as he is a waste of screen time.  The Flash is woefully portrayed, and I only hope they can do something better when he gets his own film as, so far, I am not sold on this interpretation.  Aquaman would possibly be a decent character, but we don’t see enough of the actor portraying him as he seems to be made of that dubious, rubberised CGI that cheapened the back end of BvS.  In fact, the only character who almost works is Batman, but the forcing in of one-liners damage the character immensely.  You can understand why Affleck wants out of the franchise after seeing the results.

But that CGI – I mean, come on!  In this day and age there is genuinely no reason for all action to look like a video-game cut-scene, but that’s about the level of CGI on offer here.  Rubberised limbs, blurry motion, it is all present and makes the resulting scenes look a mess.  It is hard to care one jot about events going on when it all feels so very vacuous.  But for the worst CGI, the bizarre decision to digitally wipe out Henry Cavill’s moustache gets the award.  You must have seen the memes doing the round?  You may have seen fans of the film try to claim that the meme is fake, and that someone deliberately put a different mouth on it?  Well, any ‘fan’ who says that is clearly living in denial – it IS that bad, and that meme picture IS from the film.  Look, I get that Cavill was under contract for another film and had to keep his moustache, but could they have not actually had Superman rising from the dead with, say, a full beard due to the rebirth ceremony or something?  Yes, it would have been a bit contrived, but at least it wouldn’t have been so distracting everytime he spoke.

Look, if you like this film, then well done.  In the same way that some people believe in a deity, and I don’t, I think it’s great that you can accept something that makes no sense to me.  But there is no way you will ever convince me that there is anything worth seeing in this mess, no matter how much you argue.  I see some people campaigning for an extended cut – I really can’t fathom why anyone would want to see what was cut if this result was the apparent ‘good scenes’.  Possibly the worst film I’ve spent time on all year, and I watched Daddy’s Home 2!

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