Saturday, 2 December 2017

My Review of The Justice League Movie

Now, unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, then you would be aware of the ongoing DCEU (DC Extended Universe), and the films that have been released till now.

I'm here to talk about the latest one.

Before I begin though, this film is being released on the same day as the animated series (Justice League - 2001) first aired some sixteen years ago.

Now, I'd like to go through this in parts, firstly talking about the characters, then the actual way the movie is presented, the pros and cons, and then a concluding statement.
Normally at least.
But, since there is the situation of Marvel vs DC among all the denizens of the world, that needs to be brought up as well to an extent.

Since this is going to contain Spoilers, I'd advise you not to read ahead, and merely skip to the ending for the Marvel Vs DC comparison and Conclusion. I also apologise in advance about how long this is, but I cant help it this time. I guess I'll get the hang of things with more practice.

The Characters!
We have the Justice League (never actually mentioned by that name in the movie), comprising of Barry Allen, Cyborg, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. It isnt till halfway through the movie does our favourite boy scout join the party. Beyond the Justice league, we also have other important characters who make the story, the story. We have Lois Lane, Martha Kent (MARTHAAAAAAA..... Ahem. Wont happen again), Alfred and Steppenwolf. Now, there are a few other characters who are named, but not much is spoken by/of/to them in comparison to the main cast

Barry Allen, easily the life of the movie. Ezra Miller was able to do justice to this character (pun not intended... Sorry). The youngest and most inexperienced of all the members of the team, he shows his childish nature quite often, but without it being detrimental to the scene, or causing the audience to become frustrated by the lack of seriousness.

He is such a dork, and I love this. He freaks out over the Batman's stuff, gets super excited running around the bat-cave, and then feels really hungry afterwards. He is described, in movie as "tripping over his own feet as well as (my own)" by Aquaman, and this is also shown in the way he runs: he looks like hes constantly running downhill. There's no grace of finesse, just the speed. For a guy who can travel ONLY as fast as Superman, its a given that he has little control over it.

Next we have the Cyborg. We've already seen the background of how Victor Stone got his cybernetically enhanced body, and we see how he's grown with it and can perform near perfect technopathy. Iron Man, take note. THIS is what the Extremis sage should have looked like.
Ray Fisher really nailed the whole "Frankenstein" way of dealing with the change.

Cyborg is the second youngest of all the heroes, and its shown. While not as childish or carefree as the Flash, you do see parts of his less serious side. I am really really thankful that they gave him his famous "Booyah!" quote from the original Teen Titans show (GO! is a mess. Dont even go there.)
The later adjustment of his suit makes it look closer to the one from the TV show and the animated movies, but the original one looked... TOO CGI, that it kept my attention more than the plot did whenever there was a close

Coming back to how Cyborg and The Flash are the youngest heroes on the team, you appreciate the bonding they have, such as the fist bumps, and the scene about "being the accidents" of the team, despite the fact that barring Superman, they are easily the more important members of the team (plot wise).

Aquaman. Jason Momoa does a fantastic job with this character and acts as the secondary (tertiary even?) comic relief in the movie. Audience did find this annoying, but it was mentioned that the film is gonna be more lighthearted compared to the other films. Like the scenes with the Flash, these moments of humour dont take away all that much from the character as such. We see that in the scene with the Lasso of Hestia.

Talking about the way Atlantis was shown, while I'm happy that Mera and Atlantis is shown, it seems a lot like this is the first time he's been to Atlantis. Seems odd, and their interactions quite awkward.

There are a few things which I am thankful that they added to the movie! He doesnt talk to fish! Thank god for they mentioned this!

Continuing about the underwater parts of the film, I like how they choreographed the fighting sequences underwater; pushing off surfaces while underwater is one thing, but using the water to unbalance the enemy is actually logically how a water fight sequence would be, especially by a race of mermen.

Throughout all interactions between Aquaman and Wonder Woman, I kept thinking about the Flashpoint timeline. In BVS, there was an allusion to the Injustice timeline. I dont know if this was intentional, like in BVS, but to someone whos seen the Flashpoint movie, and read some of the comics, it seemed like a setup for it. 

Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman was just phenomenal. I should at this point like to point out that I havent yet seen her standalone movie (I will get to it once I can). So for me, seeing her personality and such is a first time for me (the scenes in BVS dont really count).

There is a really nice interaction between her and Batman, when they get the third motherbox, about how they both are interacting with the rest of the world. She tells Bruce to get some sunlight (I paraphrase), and he calls her out on the hypocrisy of that in her own behaviour in the last century or so. Not to mention, in the same scene you have Diana comforting/reassuring that Superman's Death wasnt Bruce's fault. Of course, from there, the dialogue turns into a fight, but its a nice touch.

Again, the interactions she has with Aquaman had me thinking a lot of the Flashpoint Paradox timeline, though this may be unintentional. I may just be seeing it since I am aware of the comics of that series, and have seen the cartoon movie, so may not be visible to everyone.

I do dislike a couple of things about the character, I should mention. She has "one move", where she bangs the gauntlets of Atlas together to create a shock wave. Its good, but its kinda all she does. Considering that she is one of the strongest in the Justice League, it seems a bit of a waste to have her do not much else. Sure, she can use a sword with a ridiculous amount of proficiency, but, shes versatile in usage of practically most weapons.

Secondly, she doesnt/cant fly. I dont remember her flying in BVS, and I didnt see her flying in this one either. I may be missing a large part of the movie lore since I havent seen her standalone, but yeah. Seems odd.

And lastly, Batman Vs. Superman.
No seriously.

Its nice to have a batman thats a lot more calmer and less bloodthirsty. You can see the development of character between the two movies. Theres not a lot to add here on the whole "Batman" part of the character. This version differs quite a lot from the Nolan trilogy version, in that there is less swinging of fists and more gadgets. Seriously, he is really reliant on the grappler, and his (totally amazing) rides. You dont really see much of the "Bruce Wayne" side here, or at least the version that the rest of the world sees. This adaptation seems to be going more and more towards the version from the cartoons.

Speaking of cartoons, the relationship between Batman and Wonder woman resembles the one from the cartoons as well, albeit in the development stage.

Coming to Superman, 
Yes, there is something glaringly obvious that everyone can (not) (un)see. I will bring it up soon.
This version of Superman... Delivers the most brutal lines, quoting the Batman even, with "Do you bleed?"
That line had the entire theatre just going "DAMN". I am unashamedly one of those people.

Once he gets his head screwed around, he becomes the boy scout from the cartoons. He makes jokes, he moves fast, and he manages to hold his own against the entire remaining part of the team.
Speaking of, you know a character is overpowered when he effortlessly headbutts wonder woman into the ground, and makes the villain look like a minion level monster.

The whole interaction between the Justice league and Superman was incredibly well thought out and well made. The scene between Barry and Superman in (perceived) slow motion, was again, a moment when the theatre was at the edge of its seat. The one between Batman and Superman shows how the whole progress of time was for Superman, being dead for a while. 

Now, the movie some things which are worth mentioning, things that stand out in the movie.
  • The Parademons, actually felt like a credible threat. Most other movies... ALL other movies, have minions that are... cannon fodder level of monsters. This is one of the first movies where the monsters actually look like their own threat, without having to rely on numbers. Yes, they do have a strength in numbers, but even individually, or in small groups, they are able to fight well, without the aid of Steppenwolf. They are a credible threat in this universe. They're also like the concept of the undead army: they conquer and take over the body of the conquered.
  • NO STORMTROOPER AIM. Parademons are the main ones with the guns in this movie, and they ACTUALLY HIT their targets! They waited for the fast moving targets to be presentable and then hit them, like they did with The Flash and Batman.
  • Steppenwolf. One of the few villains in movies that are just powerful. He managed to fight the Amazons, the Atlanteans, one demigod, one Human-Merman hybrid, one speedster, and a walking talking boombox, in less than a few days, and he still kept coming back for more. At no point did Batman even directly engage with Steppenwolf.
  • The interactions between the team. Making them more human, with more normal speech and mannerisms. Noteworthy among them, Diana telling Bruce about needing a contingency plan, Flash and Aquaman after the Lasso of Hestia, and the end credit scene where the Flash and Superman race. (Ah... for those wondering... The Flash is faster, any day of the week.)
  • The DELIBERATE (I assume) change from the trailers. I liked how they alluded to a lot of things in the trailer, or showed them in a different order to make it look different. This is what the purpose of a trailer should be: to allude to the movie, and not showcase everything. (I feel like they paid some attention to the criticism towards the latest Spiderman and Thor movies regarding this)
  • We see the mention of the Green Lanterns, the old Gods, in the flashback to the old Unity war.

Of course, there were plenty of things which, again, stand out and should be noted:


  • Ideally, this should be a pro, but the thing is that I saw this movie in 3D, at one of the good theatres. I do NOT think that this experience would have been as enjoyable in a non 3D film, the way the graphics were played out. This is just my opinion, and I may change my mind when I can see it in 2D again later.
  • This version of Batman has been at it for about... 20 years, if I'm not much mistaken. Every other character gets an allusion to their pasts, but Batman doesnt. Diana gets a mention of Steve Trevor, Cyborg gets a talk about his accident and mom, Aquaman gets a thing about his mother leaving him on the Surface for his safety, we see barry talk to his dad even... But Batman of 20 years, doesnt get any mention of his villains, his robins, or anything. Its currently still speculation WHICH robin is the one that Joker killed (most people thinking that its cannon with Jason Todd). We dont see much of his past, but we see a small part of everyone elses!
  • Henry Cavill's moustache... It has to be said...
    The first scene in the movie is a part of a montage used for Superman's memorial. At this moment itself, its obvious that something is slightly... off about the actor. We know its the same Henry Cavil, but its not the same face. Later on, I learnt that it was CGI removal of his moustache, thanks to his filming parts in Mission Imposisble 6. This doesnt bother me as much, now that I know that it was issues between studios... But... There are scenes where the level of CGI used are different. It doesnt look uniform throughout. In fact, I think the scene where he "wakes up" and at the farm (Not the in between scenes) are the only ones without CGI.  Its just so.. odd. The inconsistency just makes it stranger.
  • Continuity issues. This is a major problem for me. In BVS, we saw Victor becoming the Cyborg BEFORE Superman died, yet this was turned around for this movie. We have the rubble floating at the end of BVS, over Clark's casket, but we apparently needed a motherbox to bring him back? What? There are other mistakes like this in terms of continuity but these two are the two major ones that stuck out to me when watching the movie itself. 
  • The main soundtrack for the movie, or the music that you normally associate with the movie, was shown only for one fight sequence, and that was with Aquaman, and nothing iconic or spectacular was shown for the team up at the end.
  • While I mentioned that it was a good thing that they changed the order of things to be shown in the trailers, I do not like that they removed a lot of content, such as Barry's intro to the Speedforce, Alfred's line in the batcave, and stuff like this. Yes, they had a direct order from WB to make the film no more than 2 hours, not including credits, but that makes the movie feel like another BVS. If they make an extended edition/directors cut/ultimate edition... well, you know what to do. 

The Comparison to Marvel:

(Yeah, there is actually a comic about this. Check it out. )

This is something that is quite unfortunate, but we have to bring this up.
Till now, I am yet to find a review online that doesnt take the time to add a paragraph or so, comparing DC and Marvel.
There IS a lot of hate regarding the entire DCEU, thanks to the famously misunderstood "Save Martha" line from BVS (explanation given if I ever get around to finishing my review of BVS), and the wasted oppurtunities of Suicide Squad (ditto).
However, Wonder Woman has pretty much saved the day for the DCEU and should have done something of a turnaround or at least a pause, in the DCEU hatred that seems to stem from nothing except for the fact that it ISNT MARVEL.

Lets compare the two series.

By now, the DCEU has completed five movies:
Man Of Steel, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League.
Thats 5 movies released, with 2 of them dedicated to origin stories, and one of them being a semi intro to Batman.

Marvel's Phase 1, had released 6 movies:
Iron Man 1&2, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and The Avengers.

So.. its not like there is a pacing issue, considering that the number of movies are similar.
Also, Marvel was the pioneer. It was the one that set up the notion of an extended universe of a scale this large, in live action.
(Lets not talk about the animated cinematic universe... DC wins that hands down and Marvel didnt venture too deeply into it either)
Yes. But it doesnt have the patent for a large scale cinematic universe.
Seeing Marvel's success, other industries have tried to emulate such complicated networks but so far DC is the only on to come up with something close to their comic book counterparts.

The comparison is quite unfortunate.
Mostly because of how the two series are almost like entirely different genres.
I cant place the quote exactly but...
it was something along the lines of

"The Avengers are a group of humans pretending to be Gods,
while the Justice League is a group of gods, pretending to be human."

Now, while this doesnt work, cos... Thor, Batman, Barry, and related... You get the picture. I hope.

Anyhow, the bottom line for this movie:

I grew up watching the animated tv show, and I can see a lot of the parallels from the initial episodes. I can appreciate the jokes and the way the movie is directed and put together. This movie was never made as a competition to Marvel's hugely successful cinematic universe, and it shouldnt have ever been seen as such. This is the continuation of the story at the end of BVS (possibly WW... I did mention that I havent seen it yet?).
The direction is well done, and the sequence of events is logical.
I will be honest, that scene where Kal-El advances on Batman, I half expected either Bruce or Diana to randomly shout out, "Martha", for some ill advised comedic purposes, and mayhaps even laugh at itself, but (thankfully) this wasnt to be.

The action scenes are on point, and the dialogue isnt rushed or forced. It fits the overall theme of the movie (being lighter than its predecessor, BVS) and the characters are true to their counterparts in the comics. Batman is broody, Diana is badass, Clark is Superman, and Cyborg and Barry are uber dorks. Aquaman, has shown the greatest improvement in my opinion, but thats just me.
Prior lore of this universe is set up properly, and without taking too much away from the main film, and doesnt have wasted moments or unnecessary scenes in it.

The credits scene with The Flash and Superman, taken directly from the comics, and Superman: The Animated series, was a nice touch, especially the number of speed related show offs between the two.

All in all, worth watching. Worth watching in 3D.

Hope you enjoy watching it, and I hope you watch it with an open mind. :)

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