Justice League — a movie review

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I put off watching Justice League until after I finally got around to watching Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

I saw Man of Steel when it came out in the theaters, and, although I wasn’t the most rabid fan of that movie, I think I liked it more than some did. In fact, I consider myself a Zach Snyder fan. I loved his remake of Dawn of the Dead, and his initial foray into the comic book world with Frank Miller’s 300 and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. The man has an eye for translating the two-dimensional comic book world into moving pictures, crafting entertaining fiction while maintaining a comic book aesthetic. I would have chosen Synder’s vision to lead the way into the DC Extended Universe as well.

Still, I couldn’t initially muster the desire to watch Batman V Superman. Maybe it was all the bad press surrounding its release. Or the fact that Superman’s death was spoiled for me early on. Or maybe the few clips I watched of the movie, featuring Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, whom I liked easily as much as I liked Jared Leto’s Abercrombie & Fitch Joker, which is to say not at all. Eventually, I overcame whatever it was that was keeping me from watching the movie, and I watched it.

I didn’t love it.

But, I didn’t hate it either. Plus, marking this movie off of my personal watchlist allowed me to now watch Justice League.

I like Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. My initial exposure to Batfleck was with Suicide Squad, which I watched first. Even though Batman was as much the villain in Batman V Superman as Luthor was, I still liked him in that movie as well. My granddaughter Taylee had convinced me to watch Wonder Woman with her in the theater, so I knew I liked Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman also. I was familiar with the rest of the team, character-wise, and I knew Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones. I liked the character change for Aquaman. Cyborg is also impressive. Although I shared most fanboys’ dislike of this version of The Flash, actor Ezra Miller eventually won me over and convinced me to place the movie and television versions of these DC superheroes in separate mental compartments. Ezra Miller is not the Arrowverse Flash. I am now okay with that.

The premise of Justice League is that an extraterrestrial being called Steppenwolf, along with his army of Parademons, has returned to Earth to collect objects of immense power called Mother Boxes, which were lost to him thousands of years ago when he was defeated by the three major races of the planet: the Amazonians; the Atlanteans; and Man. I believe the major DC villain Darkseid gets a shoutout in this movie (isn’t Steppenwolf sort of like his Silver Surfer?) but doesn’t make an appearance.

Batman is pulling together a team of people with known powered abilities to take on Steppenwolf. It turns out to not be enough, so, they have to resurrect Kal-El, more familiarly known as Superman. I hope this isn’t a major spoiler for anyone. We all knew Superman wouldn’t stay dead for long. Superman is brought back to life at almost precisely the halfway point of the movie. Everything up to that point has been about Batman assembling the team. During the rest of the movie, the team, working together, defeats Steppenwolf.

Simple, straightforward story, and a believable enough team origin. The movie clocks in at just under two-hours. It had a previous cut of 2 hours, 45 minutes before Joss Whedon was brought on board to do reshoots. Whedon’s input into the movie was significant enough that he received a writing credit, but Zach Snyder’s name remains as director. Sources conflict as to what Whedon’s actual contributions were on the film, but my guess is that he was responsible for lightening the tone from the previous Snyder DCEU movies and punching up the team-up comradery of our heroes. With a running time cut about forty-five minutes (regardless of the added material), I’m sure we lost some character development here. In spite of the hour spent in gathering the team together, we don’t learn as much about Cyborg, The Flash, or Aquaman as we might like. Nor do we really get any new information about Batman, Wonder Woman or Superman. The characters take second-place to the spectacle.

And that’s okay, too. The events of the final battle are exciting and the ultimate resolution is satisfying.

I remember pics of J.K. Simmons circulating before this movie came out. Simmons had spent a lot a gym time purportedly getting ready for role as Commissioner Gordon, and he was seriously jacked. This seemed to have little bearing on his short time on camera in this movie. Was this part of some story arc that was relegated to the cutting room floor? Or maybe his role in the sequel will be a larger one? I guess time will tell.

I liked Justice League. It’s not a movie I’ll sit around and think much about since I’ve watched it, but it was an entertaining way to spend two hours.

Firewater’s Movie Report Card: B+

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