Justice League (2017) – Film Review

“I wasn’t a big fan of DC films before, and I was hoping—with no reservations, going in—that this film would be the turning-point for me. It was. I’m super-excited for this slate of movies, and where the universe is headed.”

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’ve always been more of a sucker for Marvel than DC. That said, I know Marvel has had their flukes, but (more attributable to Disney’s bottomless wallet, I’d wager) they’ve always had their formula down; when Iron Man came out in 2009—you could count The Incredible Hulk into the mix, if you’d like, but I’ve never seen it—the studio already had their end-game in-mind. I don’t know where the DCEU is headed, and, as a writer, that bothers me. I like beginning with the end in-mind. Every time.

All those personal feeling aside…I had a lot of fun with this film.

This is certainly the “lightest” movie in the DCEU, as of yet. There’s a plethora of jokes and self-referential jabs, the tone is far different from the likes of BvS and Suicide Squad, and the color palette isn’t as dull and dreary as it has been. While there are a few downsides that aren’t exclusive to the DCEU—such as rushed storytelling and under-developed plot threads and characters (as we’ve only gotten two real character-focused movies from Warner Bros. in this run, thus far), the positives outweigh the negative.

Pacing issues are minimal; there are some slower scenes to break up the action, yes, but this didn’t feel like a two-and-a-half-hour film—and that’s including previews and credits. The score from master-class composer Danny Elfman is a welcome touch; it’s good to see Christopher Nolan’s name attached, as well, as an executive producer, seeing as he was the helmsman of one of the most successful on-screen Batman iterations ever.

Characters—new and old—mesh here. Reluctant, at first, about forming this team, there’s a clear feeling by the end of the film a definite bond is budding between them. New introductions to the big screen don’t disappoint; I particularly took to Ezra Miller’s Flash, the wise-cracking kid of the clique, but Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg are just as equally interesting. Being their first outing in this new universe, getting the audience hooked on new characters is a tough thing to accomplish, but they just exude so much potential and characterization yet to be fleshed-out. There’s a surprise appearance from Joe Morton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Speed), and Ciarán Hinds (Road to Perdition,There Will Be Blood) as the voice of villain Steppenwolf, of course, does not disappoint. The man was born to play bad guys. Going forward with the Batman solo movie, JK Simmons’s Commissioner Gordon will be fun to see have some legit screen-time and be developed further, as a character.

The CGI in this movie can be massive, at times. It blends well with the practical effects—which there are, I’m happy to report, plenty of—and hardly ever seems hokey or unpolished. Some of the action editing is choppy and hard to follow, but it’s fleeting. The world of DC is growing, and these films’ graphics budgets, going forward, need to complement that. There’s room for extended and deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray release, but this film didn’t feel as chopped as Suicide Squad did.

Final ‘Risk Assessment: ****/*. I wasn’t a big fan of DC films before, and I was hoping—with no reservations, going in—that this film would be the turning-point for me. It was. I’m super-excited for this slate of movies, and where the universe is headed. I thought seeing it in 3D would throw me off, but there are actually some really cool shots in here that were made for 3D. Some cool scenes from the trailer aren’t included in the film, but I can look past that for how much I was entertained.

P.S. – Stay for the end-credits scenes…both of them!

Next review: Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Dec. 15th)

Written by Evan Kern

Just a twenty-something filmie trudging through adulthood. Taking it day by day, movie by movie. Words are life…

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