Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wonder Woman Can't Save 'Justice League' From Dreary DC Depths


"Please don't spoil the appearance of a certain character who can be seen in most of the film's promos."

Oh, Warner Bros. You gave us three terrible DC movies in a row, but after Wonder Woman, which was both a box office success and a good DC superhero movie, I was rooting for you. We were all rooting for you! But you've failed us all once again.

I feel the need to preface this review, as I do whenever discussing DC movies, with some history. In my youth, I only read DC comics; no Marvel. And Super Friends was one of my favorite animated shows. I'm a DC girl at heart. Which is why Warner Bros.'s bungling of the DC comics franchise continues to sting.

Justice League takes place shortly after the events of Batman vs. Superman. Superman (Henry Cavill) is still dead, and everyone is living in what looks suspiciously like Trump's America. Hope,  David Bowie, and Prince are also dead, and Muslim store owners are being attacked by bigots. This is all presented in an opening credits montage set to Sigrid's version of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows. It's very similar to director Zack Snyder's Watchmen opening, and one of the film's few interesting moments.

The world is in mourning, but evil still lives, this time in the form of some flying demons that look a lot like Ohio's Mothman. They feed on fear. Batman (Ben Affleck) is on the case, and believes they're part of an impending invasion, and he can't fight them alone. He needs a team. An entire league, perhaps. A league of....JUSTICE!

Wonder Woman, who gets a great introduction near the film's beginning, is the first to join up. She knows these creatures are the minions of an ancient evil named Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who long ago fought for control over three boxes that, if brought together, would bring about the world's end. Apparently, having read Tolkien's Lord of the Ring series, the Amazonians, Atlanteans, and the World of Men all knew they had to keep these rings boxes separated and hidden, forever. But Steppenwolf, re-born to be wild, is back, and on the hunt for the boxes.

When Zack Snyder had to step down from directing duties earlier this year, due to a family tragedy, Joss Whedon filled in, and while we can't be completely sure what Whedon directed and/or wrote, it certainly feels like the film's attempts at humor are the work of Whedon. Sometimes it works. Ezra Miller's Flash is delightfully eager, naive, and terrified (even if the way he runs looks a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio taking a jaunty stroll). And Jason Momoa's macho Aquaman has an amusing scene when he's under the influence of Wonder Woman's lasso.

But Ray Fisher's Cyborg is more of a plot device than an actual character, and much of the witty banter between the league feels painfully forced since there isn't a lot of time for the characters to build a genuine feeling of camaraderie.

And once again, a superhero movie is undone by its villain. Steppenwolf is, to put it simply, a huge pile of boring phooey. His biggest character trait is a horned helmet, and his motivation is never really clear, aside from the usual villainous goal of destroying the world, to which I ask, and then what? Seriously, what do all these bad guys want after that? To live for the rest of eternity in a hellscape with only themselves for company? Good plan!

Snyder shoots the action scenes with his usual murkiness, so that no shot lingers for longer than two seconds--unless he's using slow motion, which, per usual, he uses a lot--and the result are scenes that are supposed to be exciting but are actually just very loud blurs.

Justice League is not all bad. Along with Momoa and Miller's welcome presence (and damn me, but they actually make me hopeful for their solo outings), Gal Gadot is as effervescent as she was in her past two appearances as Wonder Woman. And at least Snyder knows how to give the fans a few moments blatantly designed to elicit cheers.

But it's not enough. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are iconic. It is from them that all other superheroes followed. Putting the three of them together in a movie should result in films that soar, not the dreary, dull, drags that have resulted. DC, we were rooting for you. But maybe some superhero movies should stay dead.


6 comments:

Jonathan Rosaler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Rosaler said...

Seriously your opinion sucks. You claim you read comics and watch the shows and say this blows? Nope. Loved it coming from somebody who loved Marvel AND DC growing up. Watch the movie again. I know I will ;)

Roberto Slick said...

I am with you on this Rain. I loved DC and never even thought of Marvel. My favourite superheroes are Superman and Batman. I have just hated what DCEU has (in particular Snyder) has done to them. Terrible movies with no heart.

I certainly won't be spending money on JL and most likely watch it when it is on TV. I have been burned before with MoS and BvS:Martha.

Aimee Pavy said...

Always disheartening that story gets a back seat...they do so much work to get all the right cast and crew and then fails on the structure. Story is everything, no actor can shine without a well-written character. Always though the writing should be the easy part as all the other components seem so challenging, but time and time again it’s the reverse...story loses out and you’re left with boring eye candy.

The Equalizer 2014 said...

After wasting over $10 and over 2 hours of my life watching BvS, I was angry for a whole month! So I boycotted SS (glad I did) and now refer to Rotten Tomatoes before parting with my money and minutes of my finite life. After using RT to research WW, I'm glad I paid to see it in the cinema. I did not have any hope for JL because my expectations of it were so low because of BvS & Zack Snyder (seems I'm right). I grew up reading DC Comics which had far superior superheroes than the cheesy Marvel Comics, but now Marvel Studios make better movies, leaving DC Studios in their dust. I don't understand why the DC Fanboys/Fangirls love any DC Movie that comes out, regardless of quality, just because their favourite superhero is on the big screen. Taking the lazy way of introducing members of JL via stolen Lex Luthor's files (complete with each member's logo) without their own individual movies was incredibly stupid in an effort to catch up with Marvel Studios. There was no need to rush -- was there a competition to see who could set up their all-star lineup first? That race had already been won. What's wrong with following Marvel's route of introducing superheroes? If you want success, imitate the steps to success by not reinventing the wheel. Like in real life, not putting in effort produces substandard results. WE (i.e. everyone else) & OUR BELOVED SUPERHEROES DESERVE MUCH BETTER than the current rubbish from DC that we're subjected to (with the exception of WW of course, Patty Jenkins should be in charge of the DC Extended Universe). The executives in charge should make a better corporate decision to fire Zack Snyder because he's damaging their returns on their investments, and also not force any movie to under a 2-hour limit. REBOOT THE D.C. UNIVERSE! PS Rain Jokinen, it is unfortunate that you had to sit through a bad DC movie so that others (not me!) may not have to. They owe you big time!

Jeff H. said...

Sounds like Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog would have settled into the proceedings nicely.