Review: Justice League (2017)
by Paul (ral)

Batman v Superman had me walking out of the cinema disappointed. Personally I feel it had a lot of problems - from characterisation to plot. It was a shame as I was very excited for it and quite liked Man of Steel. To this day I haven't written a review of the film.

The production of Justice League has, by all reports, been a troubled one - and it does show on the screen (and at times, it literally shows on Henry Cavill's face). Joss Whedon's input is plan to see in the film although the tone of the film does remain consistent - apart from a couple of scenes...and it's those scenes that reveal that his influence can be a double edged sword, especially with Batman.

As for Superman (who's scenes were nearly all reshot), Warner Bros needs to get the ball rolling on a Joss Whedon Superman film - like, right now. This is the Superman we've wanted to see since Man of Steel. I wish there was more of him in this film.

The mandated 2 hr running time of the film definitely affected the pacing of the film. Even with a plot where time is of the essence a lot is rushed - and I can't help but feel that the final battle was edited heavily. I wait for the "Extended Cut"...

Danny Elfman's score is well suited to the film. It keeps it light at times, gives other scenes a lot of heart (Home) and in true Elfman style is action packed and frantic. The call backs to his 1989 Batman score and John Williams Superman theme, while being obvious fanboy pleasing moments, actually don't feel distracting and flow naturally in the scenes - which is something I was concerned about. As much as I love those scores, should they be in modern films? Elfman proves they can be used and not seem silly or out of place. However, their inclusion does raise some questions which I won't go into here. Fans of Zimmer's work need not fear - his Krypton and Wonder Woman themes are used to full effect and, again, blend in well with the film.

Ultimately WB's rush to create a DCEU is still doing harm to it's films, but there is much to love in Justice League - even if those moments seem fleeting.

The CGI is more often than not poorer than what I would expect in 2017, with Steppenwolf rendered like something from 15 years ago. Only in a couple of scenes does he look almost photo-real.

Ben Affleck returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne (as if you didn't know) and right off the Bat (pun intended) he IS Batman. His opening scenes are exactly as you would want him to be shown. A detective. A hunter. Fearless. The first shot of Batman in the film gave me goosebumps - I LOVED it. The aforementioned Whedon reshoots interject a little humour into Batman - there are a couple of jarring scenes, not jarring enough to take me out of the film but still jarring. With Batman, less is more, and he certainly wouldn't be lost for words or embarrassed as we saw in one scene. So yes, as I said before, Whedon is a double edge sword and probably not good for Batman. You can make Superman cool without doing it at Batman's expense.

Gal Gadot again IS Wonder Woman. And she IS the leader of the Justice League. Gal is just as great (if not more natural in the role) as Diana. There's not much I can add. Her performance is solid - the characterisation and writing for her is solid.

Ezra Miller is fantastic as The Flash. He is instantly likeable. The scenes with his father in prison (played by Dr Manhattan, Billy Crudup) are full of heart and humour. Something tells me they were part of the reshoots as well. The Flash using the speed force is well executed and exhilarating. A lot of the humor in the film comes from Miller - through quippy dialogue and reactionary expression. I'm usually pretty subdued in the cinema - I roared with laugher a few times because of The Flash. It's not so much that he's the comedy relief of the film, but he definitely helps bring a good vibe to it. Any general moviegoers who aren't Flash fans before hand will be afterwards. My son has been a fan of the Flash for as long as I can remember (well before the TV series in 2014) and he came out of the theatre wanting to be The Flash even more!

Jason Momoa is great as Aquaman. I wasn't expecting his character to provide one of the biggest laughs in the film, but he did (and in a good way). The Atlantis scenes seemed very brief. I mean VERY brief. Probably due to the 2 hr mandate.

Ray Fisher's Cyborg is also great. Cyborg actually gets a fair bit of development in the film and it was great to see it. However,  would have liked to have seen more. There is definitely a Frankenstein analogy going on in Justice League - and it would have been nice to see it explored further. I would go as far as to say that Cyborg is very much integral to the plot. I hope Cyborg gets his stand-alone film. I'd hate to see him relegated to the background when, inevitably, new characters are introduced.

Henry Cavill IS Superman. Super. Man. Superman is SUPER again! Dodgy lip CGI aside (and you really have to look past it - though I had a hard time) this is the Superman we have been asking for. He is charming, confident and warm. You could say that after his death it's great to have him back - but really, we've never had this Superman before in the DCEU. Superman (and The Flash) is the heart of this film. His suit is bright, he smiles and he cracks a joke. It's obviously down to Joss Whedon as most of his scenes are reshot. It just goes to show what Cavill can deliver with the right script and direction. I was getting vibes of Christopher Reeve and maybe more-so George Reeves. Again I say - Warner Bros needs to get the ball rolling on a Joss Whedon Superman film - like, right now.

Sadly we don't get enough of Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg - but then that's the point perhaps. We are left wanting more. And I'm sure we'll get it in future films, but it would have been interesting to see what was cut from the film. WB need to stay the course on this series now. We also don't get nearly enough Superman. Again I say - Warner Bros needs to get the ball rolling on a Joss Whedon Superman film - like, right now.

There is a small amount of time spent explaining the Mother Boxes and I love how the film touches on the Amazons' and Atlantean's history with a few easter eggs. The action on Themyscira with the Amazons is fantastic.

Ignoring all the behind the scenes drama and reshoot talk - Justice League is very enjoyable, if just a little frivolous and messy. A little. Whilst there are epic scenes of destruction there never seems to be a real sense of mortal danger for our heroes or the public. Steppenwolf is not a bad antagonist (per say), however, had he not been poor CGI, had some establishing scenes and a backstory I feel we would have gotten a better villian.

Justice League - fun but no Avengers (2012).
Enjoyable despite its shortcomings.
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My rant: One of my problems is, in this day and age it's hard to separate ourselves from the making of the film and the final product - and to fans the behind the scenes drama is evident. Fans can't help that. We can't ignore or forget the news and hype, but WB can - they can, and will i hope, ensure the franchise is run more smoothly from here on out. We should never be walking into a movie theatre expecting to see a mess. Course correction for a franchise is fine - I just don't want to see it playing out on the screen in front of me.

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