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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Salem Watches A Movie: Justice League

Let's have a little chat about DC and their films, shall we?
  • Man of Steel: When this movie first came out, I wasn't going to go see movies in the theatres regularly (and in fact wasn't until about Winter Soldier or so). If I'm completely honest, I found it boring. It was very dull. I fell asleep the first time I watched it, and that may just be me not being a big fan of Superman, as the same thing happened watching Superman Returns and I have no nostalgia for the Christopher Reeves movies. 
  • Batman vs Superman: Look, don't watch this. Just don't. It's a disjointed mess. In fact, skip the one before it, and look for a fan film called Man of Tomorrow. It splices Man of Steel into Batman vs Superman and does so in a way fixes all the pacing and tonal issues of this movie, while keeping the great Wonder Woman and Batman/Alfred scenes. Affleck is great. Irons is great. Gadot is great. Eisenberg's Luthor is a crime against cinema. 
  • Suicide Squad: Shut up, I like this one. I know it's bad. I love it anyway. It had some really great performances, great new takes on old characters, some great action, a cameo from Batfleck or two, and introduced me to the dreamy Cara Delevigne. 
  • Wonder Woman: aka 'the good one.' I honestly have no criticism of this movie, aside from maybe they played it a little too safe on the story side. The performances were good, the action was good, the story was good. It stands alongside the better MCU films. 
So, DC is 1 out of 4 so far going into Justice League. How did it fare?

Well... surprisingly well. Maybe it was Whedon taking over from Snyder. Maybe it was them learning lessons of what worked and what didn't from previous movies. Whatever it was, Justice League is actually a decent movie. It's no classic of the genre, like Winter Soldier, but it's at least as good as, say, Age of Ultron, just without that familiarity with the characters that we had there that allowed us to overlook some otherwise glaring problems.

That's not to say that it doesn't have problems. It does.
  • Flash is annoying. Like seriously annoying. Maybe I'm biased, watching him on television being portrayed masterfully by Grant Gustin, but Ezra Miller's Flash is just hard to watch. He's not funny and goofy, he's awkward and cringe-worthy. Maybe in theory that's a realistic portrayal of some kind of condition that's brave to show on film or something, but it's hard to watch in practice. 
  • The movie's villain, Steppenwolf, looks terrible. It's embarrassing looking at him, then seeing Thanos in the Infinity War trailer.
  • Likewise, Cyborg suffers from the poor CGI that Steppenwolf does, but in a much less organic way. Cyborg ends up looking like one of Michael Bay's Transformers until an ending sequence that shows him sheathing himself in much better armour. 
  • The story is a bit light, too, nearly scraping the depths to which the aforementioned Transformers series regularly descended: Big Bad wants to steal Magic McGuffins to take over the world and destroy stuff, good guys must band together to stop Big Bad with explosion that could possibly kill them.
On the good side, there's more of Batfleck and Gadot's Wonder Woman, and a very touching scene in which Diana helps Bruce with some of his injuries while Bruce muses on his own mortality while contrasting that with why the world needs Superman instead of him, owing to Superman's humanity. And speaking of which, I'm sorry if this is a spoiler (and if it is, congratulations on staying in the dark despite everyone's best efforts), but this is the movie that finally got Superman right. After Batman's plan is completed, the cavalry flies in to save the day with an upbeat, witty remark and a cataclysmic haymaker. Cyborg turns out to be a very good character as well, and Aquaman is a much better character than the hokey joke the trailers make him out to be. I'd like to shake the hand of Jason Mamoa's acting coach as well, as he's finally learned to emote on-screen.

There's a stand-out scene where the first battle against Steppenwolf is shown, being recounted as a legend, where the armies of man, Atlantis, and the Amazons drive him off-world with the help of certain familiar aliens and gods, and even a Green Lantern showing up.

All in all, this is definitely a movie worth watching, and it worries me a little that DC is rumoured to be giving up on the interconnected universe idea after this one, as this feels like the franchise finally getting up on its feet. It's by no means a perfect movie, but it's got potential. It's got life. Now they just need to do it again. And again. And keep doing it until they find the right balance of warmth, humour, action, and danger.

And I hope they do. I just hope it doesn't involve a Joss Whedon Batgirl. Stay away from my Barbara, Joss. 

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