REVIEWED BY: RYAN MCLELLAND

Justice League is the fifth movie in the DC Comics Extended Universe Movie Franchise thingie. There are those who decried Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman films as being too dark, too serious, and just not good. I enjoyed both films (I do acknowledge that BvS had some story issues especially the theatrical cut) and thought the films were hated because they were a bit darker and a bit serious. “NOT LIKE THOSE CHRISTOPHER REEVE MOVIES,” fans said. Me? I can’t watch those Reeve movies anymore. As a kid I dug them. As an adult way too hokey. The new Superman was a welcomed change.  I can admit the whole Martha thing was a bit stupid.

Two DC films have come out since BvS: Suicide Squad (which I did not like) and Wonder Woman (which I did). The DCU is usually compared to the Marvel films but if I compare the two the DCU probably wins out. I thought Thor Ragnarok was a decently fun film that tried WAY too hard to be funny, thought Spider-Man Homecoming was pretty outstanding (though this movie was a partnership with Sony), and Dr. Strange & Guardian of the Galaxy 2 were just not great films that once again tried too hard to be funny (or be a remake of another equally bad film).

It’s taste. Some people watch Thor Ragnarok and say, “It’s one of the best Marvel movies ever! It’s so funny.” Do I need a comic book film devoid of humor? No. Do I enjoy comic book films like The Dark Knight or Captain America: The Winter Soldier where there is only a very light sprinkling of humor set around a real film? Absolutely. I didn’t collect Batman comics as a kid, teen, or adult to laugh. I didn’t read Cap comics by Steve Englehart, Mark Grunewald and Ed Brubaker to laugh. I bought Spider-Ham to laugh. I bought Captain America (and many other comics) for the enjoyment. Am I a dinosaur set in my days? Maybe. It is absolutely possible.  But you like what you like and I’ll like what I like.

While the reviews for Justice League are fairly mediocre I will say that I really did enjoy the film. I felt the film was disjointed and slightly off at times but I believe there is a great explanation for that (which I’ll get into shortly). For those who bitch and complain that “Oh these movies aren’t funny enough!” or ‘Superman never smiles! WAAAAAAAH!” you’ll be happy to know that this movie is not devoid of humor and that Superman does smile. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW??!??!?! Of course not. People will bitch and complain about these films. I read one reviewer who talked about Batman v Superman being horrible and devoid of any emotion. Too serious. His Justice League review? He bitches that the heroes don’t take saving the world serious enough. You cannot make this shit up.

This film is a big play on the dream Batman has in Batman v Superman. In that film there is a dream sequence in which Batman is in the desert shooting guns. Parademons come and Batman is taken down. Batman is captured and evil Superman comes down. He rips Batman’s mask off. Then Batman wakes up from the dream to see a mustached Flash come through a computer console to say that Lois Lane is the key. And then Batman wakes up from another dream. Was it really a dream? A premonition? I dunno. They never fully explain that there (OR HERE) so you are left to deduce. Lois Lane is a key point in Justice League but there is no evil Superman nor a showdown in the desert.

In Justice League, parademons are showing up on Earth and Batman is battling them in Gotham City. Steppenwolf, the evil lackey of Darkseid, appears on Earth to collect three powerful objects called Mother Boxes. If Steppenwolf can retrieve the three Mother Boxes he can basically transform Earth into a planet like the one he is from: Apokolips.

Batman thinks an invasion is coming but Wonder Woman informs him that it is already here. They have very limited time and decide to go after the special individuals from Lex Luthor’s special individuals file. Aquaman tells them to screw off. Flash wants to join right away. Cyborg is about three minutes into his new robot body and doesn’t really want to leave the apartment. But as Steppenwolf gets closer and closer to his goal, the team comes together to try and stop him. Realizing they all five won’t be able to do the job they come up with an even crazier plan that can screw them big time.

Even though you don’t see him in the trailers, Superman does return (was there any doubt?) and the bad guy is defeated (again…any doubt?!?!?!). There’s two post credit sequences and the last one promises a kickass sequel. I actually was very excited but the final post credits scene.

If I’m going to compare Justice League to the Marvel movies I find it better than the last 3 studio films (Dr. Strange, Guardians 2, Thor Ragnarok) but not better than Spider-Man Homecoming. Or Wonder Woman for that matter. I did have a good time and thought that the film had some great action sequences and decent humor. It was funny but not stupidly overly funny. It wasn’t trying to be Thor Ragnarok. Thank god. I did find that Batman was a bit quippy which was slightly annoying but I guess okay. It’s an evolution of the character I suppose so I accept it. I love how everyone watching Batman v Superman said, “But Batman doesn’t use guns!” You point out that Bob Kane and Bill Finger had the character shooting guns when they created him. “Yes, but he’s changed since then!” is usually the answer back. When you then explain that the character is changing again they’ll usually circle back, “But Batman doesn’t use guns!” When I point out that Clark Kent isn’t some bumbling moron like Christopher Reeve movies they’ll also point out that those movies are so good. I guess because Superman smiles? I dunno.  Personally I can’t watch the Reeve movies anymore and Henry Cavill is a welcomed change.

Flash was a humorous character that worked. I thought most of the heroes worked here except for Aquaman. He’s a tough ass comic relief who didn’t have much to do. Out of all six Justice Leaguers he felt the most underused.

I didn’t like that this film felt disjointed at times and that the CGI looked off. In the film being disjointed I’m going to blame the studio and perhaps Zack Snyder as well. Snyder probably delivered his vision of Justice League which probably scared studio heads. That led to reshoots. When Snyder left the reshoots after a family tragedy they brought in The Avengers director Joss Whedon to mop up. This probably made the movie more Avengery. It doesn’t matter. People will bitch it isn’t good enough no matter what you do. God himself could direct this movie and I seriously bet people would say, “God doesn’t know what he’s doing. Jesus should have directed this instead.” I’d kill to see Snyder’s original cut. I’m sure I would enjoy it more.

As for the CGI? It…wasn’t great at times. Lots of computer animated backgrounds from shooting on green screen. AND at times you really noticed. Steppenwolf was a CGI motion capture creation and he did NOT look good. Not at all. At no point did Steppenwolf look real. It looked like CGi from 2002. If this was a $50 million budget movie I’d give them a pass but Justice League cost $300 million to make. That is a huge chunk of change – especially for a film that I doubt will become profitable in the end (and if it does that profit will be minimal). You would think that this flick would look better so I’m not sure. I don’t doubt that most of that money is up on the big screen. But the CGI needs work. Even Cyborg didn’t look right. I just wasn’t sold on his CGI. It looked like a half human face with a cartoon body.

Danny Elfman provided the ho-hum score. I thought several times, “Why did they bring him in to do this? Nostalgia?” Then there’s a point where Batman appears and Elfman’s 1989 Batman score swells. My eyes teared up. For real. So if it was for nostalgia then that nostalgia worked. Big stupid grin on my face.

One massive puzzling thought I had when the credits rolled was Justice League’s original marketing campaign. UNITE THE SEVEN was all over original posters. Seven. So there’s Batman, Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Aquaman. SIX. Never seven (no spoilers meant). So was the seventh cut out of the film? Sequences not filmed? There’s zero explanation on that one.

I also loved that Jack Kirby got a created by mention for the Fourth World but Marv Wolfman and George Perez only get mentioned in the “Special Thanks.” So thanks for inventing of the huge characters in this movie guys, but we’ll just mention you among everyone else.

At the end of the day I had a good time with Justice League. I thought it had its problems but was able to overcome most of them to present a fun film. It’s not The Avengers, but it beat the pants off that crappy Avengers sequel. I think people will continue to complain about these movies until Snyder is removed from the picture entirely. Batman doesn’t kill. Superman doesn’t smile. Oh Batman has killed in the past? Yeah but yeah but. Superman smiles in this film? Yeah but yeah but. And so on. I guess when everything is super neon and everything is super funny and Jeff Goldblum is cast as Darkseid people will enjoy these movies more. Personally I thought this to be a great film and though my rank isn’t an A I will say that I can’t wait to watch it again.

RANK: B+

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