I’d been avoiding this film for a while.
Mind you, it wasn’t deliberate at first. I believe that when this came out, I had intended to see it in the theater but life got in the way of such things and I never got the chance. I figured I’d wait for it to come out on video, but during that wait, I began to reconsider the entire DCEU, or whatever they’re calling it (except Wonder Woman, which is still amazing) because Snyder fans were just that annoying. I mean, I went so far as to take down a post on my other blog wherein I said I liked Batman v Superman because I didn’t want to be mistakenly associated with those people.
Anyway. Last weekend, my son got Shazam! for his birthday and we sat down and watched it. It was, as I mentioned on Twitter, a fun, tight two hours and up there with Wonder Woman and Aquaman in terms of the really great DC Comics movies from this decade (I still like Man of Steel, although these movies make its flaws more obvious). Justice League happened to be available through my HBO Go account, so I bookmarked it and sat down to watch it.
It’s not terrible.
I mean, it’s not a top-tier DC movie, but because it bombed so hard at the box office and because any time it’s mentioned online, I have to see the phrase “Snyder Cut”, it’s got this reputation as being a total suckfest. It’s not. Why? Well, I’m going to do that annoying blogger thing and put my opinions into a list of what I liked and what I didn’t.
LIKED: The Plot. It’s a very simple one. A huge threat is coming in the form of Steppenwolf, a Fourth World villain that was teased in BvS and Batman gets the Justice League together to stop it, going so far as to try and revive Superman by playing Victor Frankenstein with a Mother Box and the Kryptonian ship.
DISLIKED: The villain. I get that Steppenwolf is supposed to be a precursor to a possible bigger movie or story with Darkseid, but I have to be completely honest when I tell you that it wasn’t as compelling as it could have been. This Fourth World stuff should have been further down the line and should have involved other characters from the Fourth World. I mean, it’s established pretty early on that he’d been an ancient threat to the Earth, so it’s not like he shows up out of nowhere like the aliens in War of the Worlds. Where’s Orion? Highfather? Why wouldn’t they send someone to Earth to warn them?
LIKED: Superman. Despite flaws in scripts and tone of movies, I have enjoyed Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman (and I am not going to comment on the digital mustache removal because Paramount decided to be bitchy). There are scenes in here where he is clearly having fun, and while Batman probably could have just taken him to Miracle Max (because he was mostly dead, not all dead), the whole Lazarus Pit (which is what it was) thing was interesting. That being said …
DISLIKED: The lack of Superman and his cast. You’ve got Amy Adams and Diane Lane here and you completely waste them? Come on, guys. Adams is such a great Lois and Lane is an outstanding actress who could bring to a cinematic Ma Kent what Anette O’Toole brought to the character on Smallville. I realize that there were bigger concerns and bigger characters to deal with, but a few more moments or setup for another Superman film would have been great.
LIKED: Alfred. More Jeremy Irons, please. He was so great.
DISLIKED: Batfleck. I like Ben Affleck and there are moments in here where they let him play Bruce Wayne like a Ben Affleck character. But those are few and far between and half the time, he looks like his clothes are too small and he’s constipated. I realize that he’s tortured and stuff, but give him a laxative because it’s distracting how stiff he is.
LIKED: Cyborg and The Flash. I’m actually on the fence about Ezra Miller as Flash because I think that we could have used a Flash movie prior to the JL one (and in my mind, we get a multiverse bit with Grant Gustin, but I know that won’t happen) that would have done a better job of establishing his character than the do here. But he’s got his moments. Cyborg was written well and played well and tied into the maguffin, so there you go. And extra points for Joe Morton, one of my favorite character actors.
DISLIKED: Cyborg is a Titan, not a member of the Justice League. Please give us Martian Manhunter.
LIKED: The score. I know that one of the biggest changes when Joss Whedon came on was to replace Junkie XL with Danny Elfman. It was one of the best decisions he made. Come at me all you want for being some “Get off my lawn” old guy here who loves his old DC flicks, but Danny Elfman’s nods to the Batman score and the Superman John Williams theme helped make this a superhero movie.
DISLIKED: The color palate and green screening. Ffs, please stop using those damn filters. And if your CGI is going to be shit (and it was shit for a lot of this), then pull back, shoot on location, tighten things up–we can see the damn strings (metaphorically speaking). This won’t age well.
LIKED: The tone. Joss Whedon was brought in to finish this after Zack Snyder left due to the tragic suicide of his daughter. I’m not a Whedon fan at all and the only thing he’s done that I have really enjoyed was the first Avengers film. That being said, the places where his fingerprints are clearly on the movie are some of the better parts (and the mid and post-credits scenes are great). Even though it’s a highly flawed movie, it is very fun and allows itself to be a superhero film, which I didn’t always get from some of the others.
DISLIKED: It didn’t earn its ending. I have been avoiding MCU comparisons because I’m in the camp that you can like both and don’t have to choose between the two. That being said, the MCU gave itself a few more films before going to The Avengers and by the time you got there, you were ready. This felt rushed as if in some way Warner Brothers was reacting and even flailing at times. We get some cool moments in the film, but it felt more like window dressing than emotional engagement. I’m honestly putting this on the studio and none of the writers/directors because Warner Brothers really screwed this up.
Overall, this needs to be seen more. It needs maybe 15 more minutes of character development and a different villain. It doesn’t need “The Snyder Cut.” And I may add this to my collection.
Buy, Rent, or Skip?