In lieu of a new page this week we thought we'd let TJ weigh in on one of the internet's big fanboy wars at the moment, is the new Justice League movie any good? Here's what he has to say about it...
First of all let's get one thing out of the way, just like any other geek, I absolutely adore Batman the Animated Series. I also have a soft spot for the Justice League cartoon. I am not a DC or Marvel fanboy (in all honesty I prefer reading books from Image), so you won't find any flame war inducing comments here. The DC movies so far have been pretty hit and miss (mostly miss), but I do enjoy what they're aiming for. It's just the execution and obvious studio interference that brings them down. I'm not going to shit talk Zack Snyder either, cause as much as he gets wrong about the characters, the visuals are always beautiful and at least he's trying to say something no matter how misguided it is. The less said about Suicide Squad the better. I hated that movie sooooo much. Jared Leto as the Joker and the casual racism in the script and characters gets a fair chunk of that hate. And as for Wonder Woman, much to my surprise Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, but that third act... What the hell was that? But I'm here to talk about the new Justice League movie so let's get to it.
I'm going to preface everything by saying I do not go to see Superhero or comic book movies expecting Oscar winning films that should get a showing at Cannes. I go to them to experience fun characters fighting and throwing out one liners, crazy plot points that sometimes come out of left field, and to relive my youth in 2 hour bursts of escapism that usually involves explosions and shiny things being shiny, and Justice League is exactly that. The movie still has elements of studio interference and feels rushed, but it reads as though DC and Warner Brothers are trying to right the ship after the doom and gloom (not to mention the fan and critics outcry), of the past few films and get their characters back to basics. There's still a way to go to them being true to their origins and as much fun as the recent crop of Marvel films, but it is one hell of a leap in the right direction. Batman no longer kills everyone everywhere; Wonder Woman is on a journey to rediscover hope and truth and what it is to be a heroic leader; and Superman actually gets to smile and seems to care about innocent people. This alone makes Justice league a step up from the previous films, even if the story is generic evil guy chases magical mcguffins that will end the world and our heroes must join together to stop him. In other words it's pretty basic storytelling, but the big three are on their way to becoming the big three of old. It's just going to take some course correction to get there and that's what this movie is all about. Think of it like X-Men Days of Future Past, but better cause at least this is fun to watch and it doesn't feel like you're waiting 2 hours and some change for the franchise to hit the refresh button.
The special effects have a noticeable drop in quality to the other films, not sure exactly why. Maybe they decided to not spend as much money on this one like the others? Maybe Zack Snyder departing from the director's position before finishing the movie has something to do with it? Either way, I have no idea, but Justice League is no where near as pretty as Batman V Superman or Man of Steel. Some of the locations apart from Themyscira are very ordinary and I'd be hard pressed to really say anything good about them. Steppenwolf is clearly CGI, and everything to do with him and his minions is very obviously all from a computer. There are no real epic shots that seem to fill all of Zack Snyder's movies, which in all honesty is a blessing and a curse. Some of his shots are truly remarkable and are missed, but there's only so much Superman as Jesus that I can take before I start to giggle, or worse, roll my eyes.
The writing in Justice League isn't going to win any awards, but I found it to be okay. The big mistakes of previous entries and done away with. There's no jars of urine or unsure character motivations here. There's jokes that land and everyone does exactly what you'd expect them to do. There's no real surprises here in regards to character motivations and the plot cruises along nicely with no real departures or muddy subplots. What you see is really what you get. A lot of people have likened it to the first Avengers movie, and as loath as I am to start comparing the two, it really is an apt comparison. They are pretty much the same movie at their core, just with different characters and a different mood, with no real subplot to speak of and everyone gets a bit of a character arc. DC seem| to have realised that every character isn't Batman and they are allowed to have some fun. The interplay between Batman and Aquaman is amusing, as is the exchanges between The Flash and Cyborg. Wonder Woman and Batman get to be the grown ups and the late appearance by Superman, who after coming back from the dead seems to have re-found his humanity and is becoming the boy scout he always should be. There's even a moment where he stops fighting the bad guy to assist innocents in certain doom. A very Superman thing to do (something which he doesn't do in the previous films). Then there's Batman. Full disclosure, I really like Ben Affleck's take on Batman and Bruce Wayne (although we don't get to see him socialise as Wayne, just him in detective mode with Alfred, so he never goes full-Wayne), and now that the writing seems to get that this iteration isn't in the Nolanverse, he is allowed to start becoming more like Batman and he is much better for it.
All in all I really enjoyed Justice League. By no means is it the best comic adaptation out there. There are plenty of better movies like the first Guardians of the Galaxy, the Tim Burton Batmans, Winter Soldier and even the latest Thor (I'm ignoring it not being exactly like the comics or the past Thor movies and taking it for what it is). There are certainly better examples of comic characters being portrayed on screen, Ledger's Joker, Holland's Spiderman and Downey Junior's Iron Man (Which one came first? The actor or the character? Cause it seems like he actually is Iron Man). But this is definitely a positive step for DC in getting their house in order and I'd take a movie or two in course correction that is actually a fun bit of escapism over another complete waste of time like the Fantastic Four movie, or even the pointless remake of Ghost in the Shell anyday. Just don't go in expecting a mind blowing experience, but something more akin to those cartoon double episodes of the Justice League and you'll have a good time. I certainly did.
PS Still a bit miffed their was no Green Lantern appearing at the last minute, but the final teaser after the credits does have me pumped for what's to come. Now bring on Marvel's Infinity War and Justice League 2, cause I'd rather be spoilt for choice than joining the moaning voices on the internet.