I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
This is it. This is what all those calamitous DC movies were leading up to in their DCEU. A big team-up of the most powerful superheroes in all of fiction. What did this all add up to?
Justice League follows Batman and Wonder Woman’s attempts to bring together a group of “meta-humans” to fight a possibly unstoppable alien force. This team includes the super-speedy Flash, the underwater dude Aquaman and a half-robot called Cyborg.
This genuinely is a piece of cinema history. This Justice League film has been one of the hardest properties in the history of film to get made. The number of false starts and bad decisions along the way beggars belief. How do you make a film about a bunch of demi gods only about 3 or 4 of whom people have heard of?
Then Marvel happened and DC played catch up with some travesties which all did things which ranged from admirable risks to basically summarising what is wrong with modern cinema in just over two and a half hours.
Even when this film was being made there were issues. Focus groups and social media demanded that the script be changed and scenes be reshot to make the tone lighter. Sequels prematurely planned were aborted. People were shocked by the fact that the most likable, marketable and best property under the JL umbrella turned out to be the GIRL of the team.
Then all these issues paled into comparison with the real-life tragedy suffered by director Zach Snyder. Joss Whedon took over his duties, though he is credited as a screenwriter in the film. I’m going to do the common reviewing thing and state upfront that regardless of my feelings on the film, I have nothing but sympathy for Zach Snyder and his family during this horrible time in their lives.
I’ve made movies before and trust me, every one of them felt like a disaster while I was making it. Every film follows murphy’s law. And out of the madness, some beauty can appear.
Did Justice League come out of this series of unfortunate events unscathed?
In a word, no.
The tone is all over the place, you can see where they struggled to cut the length to the point of genuine confusion. Scenes are so totally not in the right order. And overall this is a calamitous mess.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it though.
I hope that this is not like when I gave a moderately positive review to Batman vs Superman out of denial the first time I watched it. I really did enjoy some parts of this movie, buried underneath a tonne of nonsense.
Maybe I’ve been fooled by the superficial cool that the film has in spades. Snyder has finally ditched the Instagram filters that made his well composed images look like vomit, in favour of brighter more beautiful colours. Characters are now telling jokes and being more than brooding, boring garbage. It’s still bad, and when put into context with the first three DCEU films it makes no sense, but at least I’m relatively engaged.
Never before have I seen a film try so hard to make up for the sins of previous entries in a franchise. Tired of us forcibly setting up sequels to a franchise you haven’t decided you like yet? We give you only ONE reference to Darkseid! Tired of brooding idiots instead of heroes? We have 90% less brooding! Tired of characters you don’t care about? Two of the new League members you like within minutes of meeting!
Sometimes the sins of the father come to haunt the son, however. The fixes they pull are for errors so inbuilt into what made the previous films so insufferable that it’s actually kind of laughable that they could try to sort them out here.
When Bruce Wayne says “Superman was a beacon”, I nearly burst out laughing. Maybe the Christopher Reeve one, mate, not the guy who LEVELLED THE CITY HE WAS TRYING TO SAVE and MOPED AND DOPED ABOUT INSTEAD OF SAVING PEOPLE! Then he has in one scene the gall, the freaking cheek, to go after Wonder Woman for not doing her bit. Mate, seriously, back off!
One of the most egregious moments of the film I cannot mention due to their spoilery nature. Once you see it you’ll know what I mean.
My favourite element of the film is the League’s balance. As much as the tone shifts every other scene and the editing is a bit odd and the beginning is in the wrong place, every hero feels like they contribute to the team. They all feel instrumental.
Finally I’m actually excited to see where the hodgepodge of the DCEU is going. We finally have a ground on which we can take off into more of these weird films. Wobbly ground, but at least it’s not quicksand made of skulls.
Recommended Scenario: If you can put up with some stupid stuff in order to see the full potential of this project.