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Review: Justice League (Bumbray's take)

Justice League (Bumbray's take)
6 10
Read Paul Shirey's take HERE

PLOT: Following Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) recruits Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to help him battle an apocalyptic threat.

REVIEW: Has there ever been a movie whose production has been under a microscope as much as JUSTICE LEAGUE? Ever since BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was met with fan backlash (and a disappointing $872 million worldwide take), Warner Bros has been under pressure to right the ship, with fans all but demanding the grim tone be ditched in favor of optimism, leading to a mega-budget production that, every step of the way, Warner has been promising would be more “fun” than BvS. With so much riding on it (almost, but not quite, the fate of the DCEU), it’s no wonder JUSTICE LEAGUE’s been tinkered with so much before reaching cinemas, with director Zack Snyder famously stepping aside due to family reasons (although he’s still the sole credited director) and Joss Whedon (who gets a co-writing credit) helming the reshoots.

As such, JUSTICE LEAGUE really does feel like corporate product rather than the ultimate vision of one director. For all their faults, MAN OF STEEL and BvS were clearly Zack Snyder films, bold choices and all. JUSTICE LEAGUE does not have that feel, as it’s a movie that clearly had a lot of people having their say involved, giving it a disjointed feel. Yet, even in the moments that actually make it feel like a Snyder film, JUSTICE LEAGUE never really seems like a BvS follow-up, with it having a notably different look via new DP Fabian Wagner (who questionably shoots it as a less-than-epic 1:85:1 aspect ratio) and composer (Danny Elfman – replacing Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL – and contributing a less bombastic score with brief nods to his BATMAN fanfare and John Williams’s SUPERMAN theme).

Right from the start, the movie has a new sensibility all over it, with a light-hearted iPhone video of a friendly Superman our first hint that this DCEU installment is going to be radically revised. Everything is different that it was in BvS, with Cavill’s Superman getting the most radical reinvention (I’d wager it was mostly his footage that was reshot), with him now playing the character in a similar way to how Christopher Reeve did, the results of which are mixed as it’s jarring to have the characterization change so much. The same goes for Ben Affleck’s Batman, who’s now cracking jokes to Alfred, and acting like a schoolboy with a crush around Wonder Woman, something which doesn’t play to his strengths in the part. Of the two films BvS was a far better example of what he could do. He’s a lot better at playing dark Batman, than laid-back, easygoing “nice” Batman.

Luckily, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, having benefitted from her own highly successful solo outing, fares far better. JUSTICE LEAGUE actually picks up on her post-WONDER WOMAN status quite well, with it clear that for an Amazon of her age, one hundred years is just the blink of an eye, and she’s still mourning Steve Trevor, with the film’s best moment being a rough reaction she has to Bruce mentioning her “dead boyfriend.” Gadot really does seem born to play the part, and her scenes are the best in the film.

As for the other new DCEU characters, they all fare reasonably well. Ezra Miller is perfect as Barry Allen/The Flash, although he’s saddled with being comic relief, and needs his own film to really come into his own. Ray Fisher proves to be an excellent addition as Cyborg, with his grief over his new state being one of the movie’s better subplots, and I like the relationship between him and Wonder Woman, with him having the same boyish goodness as Trevor. Of them all, the one I’m the least sure about is Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, with him a bit of a two-dimensional character, playing him like a wildman rocker, but I have faith that a solo flick will flesh-him-out.

The villain doesn’t come off nearly as well, with Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) being among the worst in comic-book film history. Imagine if Doomsday, as poorly as he was conceived in BvS, was the main baddie and you have some idea of how awry he goes, with CGI that’s so bad you’d be hard pressed to find another big-budget blockbuster since the millennium that had a character look so bad. What happened here? The Parademon baddies fare just as poorly, making them a generic, disposable threat. As badly as he was received by fans, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor should have come back. The inevitable showdown with Steppenwolf is over quickly, and it almost feels like a third act was scrapped to fit the whole thing in at two hours.

Indeed, JUSTICE LEAGUE is a mixed bag, and this comes from someone who more-or-less liked BATMAN V SUPERMAN, mostly for Affleck and the unapologetically bold tone. This is an altogether different beast, but to its credit, it’s far from a disaster. Things about it work, mainly the chemistry between the heroes, although their relationships could have been fleshed out. DC fans will enjoy it, and it leaves the door open to (hopefully) better follow-ups.


Source: JoBlo.com

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