Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, December 18, 2017

Save yourself from seeing ‘Justice League’

The latest shows and movies coming to a screen near you. 

Justice League” opens with a smartphone video recording Superman. Children behind the camera hastily ask him questions about his sigil and stumble into their ending question, “What’s your favorite part of planet Earth?” Henry Cavill freezes and ponders his newly adopted homeland, he looks down and smiles -- before he can give us an answer the screen cuts to black.

His answer is more than likely something about hope or human resilience, maybe his answer is nothing, because Clark Kent’s answer may as well not matter. The remaining 118 minutes of runtime do nothing to build off of this scene or even give thematic tie-ins of any kind.

“Justice League,” is centered on the aftermath of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” where Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) must recruit new heroes as a looming threat comes for Earth: Steppenwolf.

Warner Bros. have been attempting to combat Marvel’s success with a film universe of their own and so far, it has not been a success story. “Justice League” had potential; it had some semblance of expectation if not for the sole fact that fans have been waiting to see these characters share the silver screen for a long time. Sadly, that expectation will not be met for most, if not all.

It seems astonishingly difficult to make a comic book movie boring, yet somehow the team behind “Justice League” did just that. The worst part of this film isn’t the fact that it has one of the driest plots of 2017, but that Warner Bros. decided to change their direction towards a light romp that follows Marvel’s formula -- undeservingly and mistakenly thinking they could hit the reset button when, in fact, they are desperately scrambling for a rebrand button.

The search for a rebrand started following the poor reception “Batman v Superman” received for being too dark and too convoluted for a superhero flick. This tone was clearly an attempt to stray away from light-hearted Marvel films. But “Batman v Superman” deserves some retrospective praise for at least having a vision and a willingness to have a unique theme of challenged faith never before seen in the superhero genre.

The making of “Justice League” is a much more interesting story than the film itself. Zack Snyder is credited with directing when, in reality, no one should be credited. Snyder stepped away from the project following a family tragedy, so Warner Bros. enlisted “The Avengers” writer/director Joss Whedon to helm reshoots. He also re-wrote much of the film as he is credited as a screenwriter. These reportedly extensive reshoots ballooned the budget up to as much as $300M, plus marketing. As if things couldn’t get worse, the long running reshoots leaked into Cavill’s time of filming “Mission: Impossible 6,” for which his character has a mustache. Therefore, some of that overblown budget was spent on digitally removing Cavill’s mustache in post-production. However, the film, for all its effects budget, still has several scenes where there is absolutely glaring green screen.

Starting with the plot, it is as barebones and by-the-numbers as a Macguffin story can get. The film has little to no identity. It is so unashamed in its presence that it possesses no themes and strives solely for coherence. Ultimately, the film has just that, coherence; it is easy to follow but the story deserves no praise outside of that fact. Warner Bros. reportedly demanded the film be under two hours long, presumably to sell more shows per day, and it shows with some choppy scenes making up the entire first act.

“Justice League” also features horrendous dialogue that could not feel more out of place and hamfisted, attmepting to plug the entire first act with exposition from every which way. This is made evident early on with children essentially asking Superman to spill his character motivations in the very first scene.

Many reactions to the film have been commending the fun characters, and although some have fun moments -- specifically the Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) as a comedic relief standout and Jason Momoa doing his best Jason Momoa impression as Aquaman/Arthur Curry -- none of the new superheroes have much personality. Gadot gives the best performance in this film, but that isn’t saying a whole lot.

Something that can bring salvation to a poorly-constructed blockbuster films is good action sequences. The bad news is that “Justice League” does not have that either, save for Wonder Woman’s introductory scene. Instead we get a whole lot of sequences of our heroes bashing Steppenwolf over and over to no effect in dull, desolate areas so that no civilians are hurt, likely thanks to the amount of flack Warner Bros. received over the big city destruction that takes place in 2013’s “Man of Steel”.

In the end, Affleck probably saw the final product and then decided he would like to leave this role.

Not only is “Justice League” a bad film, it has no outstanding aspect to lean back on. It is wholly forgettable and maybe that is what Warner Bros. studio heads want, for all of us to forget these films existed and take another shot in a few years time.

Grade: D+

draju@theeagleonline.com


Comments powered by Disqus