Friday, November 17, 2017

Movie Review: Justice League

How do you make a sequel to what's almost certainly the worst movie of its genre? Hell, Batman V Superman might be the worst movie of any genre, at least in terms of missed opportunities and bad decisions (incidentally, if you haven't seen the first part of this YouTube miniseries, you're missing out).

Warner Bros' solution seems to have been to throw two directors, a stack of studio notes cribbed from every negative review, and - if rumors are to be believed - three hundred million dollars at the screen, in the hopes of getting something remotely watchable.

And... honestly... they kind of succeeded.

I know, I'm as surprised as you are. But while I wouldn't call the movie good, the vast majority is absurdist fun in the form of an unabashed love letter to the DC Universe and its history.

But what's the movie like? That part's easy - this is camp to the core. Aside from an extremely dull thirty or forty minute chunk of the film that tried to wring out some drops of drama, this feels more like a big-screen version of Superfriends, Adam West, or Batman: Brave and the Bold than a continuation of the franchise. The movie that made it to screen is basically an extended self-aware joke, for better or worse.

Granted, it's a movie fraying at the seams. Remember that scene in BvS where Flash traveled in time and appeared briefly in the Batcave? It's pretty clear how that was going to tie in with the resurrection of Superman, but the entire subplot was abandoned in favor of a streamlined story. The resurrection story that's left is hilariously idiotic, lacking any real tension or payoff, but - again - that's probably better than the alternative. Superman's return to the land of the living here is as emotionally hollow as his death, but at least Justice League has some fun with it.

And - credit where credit's due - the Superman who appears in this movie is damn near pitch-perfect. Henry Cavill finally gets to demonstrate he was a good choice for the part all along - he just needed a film where he was allowed to smile. Plus, it's hard to overstate how effective a few seconds of the Donner Superman and Burton Batman themes are.

But remember those stories about Cavill's digitally-removed mustache? You will be able to tell, and it will be jarring. You've been warned.

And while I'm issuing warnings, this seems like a good a time to tell you that whoever directed the sequence with the Amazons was a piss-poor substitute for Patty Jenkins. There's an extended fight on Paradise Island that feels like it belongs on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Also, if you've seen any cut scenes from the Injustice games, expect flashbacks during the final battle at the end of the movie. Visual effects were not this movie's strong suit.

And... for the love of God... Batman either needs to be recast or Affleck needs to lay off the gym. He's way too bulky for the role - he looks ridiculous.

But if you can stand all that, you'll be rewarded with some solid interpretations of these characters and some good moments. This might not have been the movie where Warner Bros figured out how to tell a good superhero story, but at least they stopped being embarrassed by the genre and had fun. The critics tearing this to shreds aren't wrong - the flaws in Justice League are legion - but I still enjoyed the experience. And I think those of you who are into the comics or any of the animated incarnations of the team will be at least entertained if you check it out.

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