Friday, November 24, 2017

Movie Review: Justice League

The heroes of DC Comics unite in an action-packed adventure that has a mix of tones but some eye-popping action. The expanded universe of superheroes has struggled with recent films doing poorly with critics while having some financial success. The most recent film was a huge hit that seemed to put the connected universe back on track. Justice League does its job moving the characters around and getting them together but a lot of it feels like something that was only half thought out and a copy of something more interesting from another comic book movie company. The action in the film was enjoyable enough for me and seeing new superheroes benefited the overall feel of the film to make it an enjoyable experience for me. Familiar faces return and a new villain adds action though often has poor special effects and corny dialogue.

Batman (Ben Affleck) uses the fear of a criminal to draw out a parademon, the footsoldiers of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). Bruce Wayne learns that the monsters are seeking out Motherboxes from Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). She knows the legends and when she is done fighting off religious zealots, she joins Bruce in recruiting new heroes to help in the fight. Bruce heads to an isolated sea village to recruit Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) who turns out to have amazing water powers as Aquaman. Arthur refuses Bruce's offer so Wayne heads to another young protege Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) who has superspeed powers after a lightning strike turned him into the Flash. Diana Prince tries to recruit Cyborg (Ray Fisher), a football star Victor Stone, who was altered by a Motherbox when his father Silas (Joe Morton) performed experiments on it. 

Collecting the Motherboxes requires Steppenwolf to visit both Themyscira and Atlantis. He defeats the Amazonians and beats the Atlantans when Aquaman shows up to fight him too late. This theft convinces Aquaman that he needs to join the Justice League. Cyborg returns home to find that Silas is captured so he too, joins up. Together they head to a sewage system beneath Gotham city where Steppenwolf interrogates scientists and janitors who were working around the Motherbox. Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons) warns Batman of commotion in the gotham sewers. In the first big action sequence of the film, Batman, Flash, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman take on Steppenwolf to stop him from stealing the Motherbox from Silas. The scientist gives the Justice League the Motherbox and Bruce wants to use it to resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) despite Diana's misgivings.

Flash and Cyborg dig up Clark Kent's body, and the Justice League drops Superman in the spaceship solution while at the same time Flash adds an electrical charge to the Motherbox right as it hits the liquid. Superman is brought back but he is confused so he fights the Justice League. He is about to kill Batman when Lois Lane (Amy Adams) arrives to calm him down. As Clark recovers from being dead, the rest of the Justice League prepare to confront Steppenwolf and the parademons. There is a bit of humor when Aquaman sits on Wonder Woman's lasso. They head out to the random Russian village where civilians have been hiding out in fear of the heightened parademon presence. Batman goes in first with the Batmobile ready to sacrifice himself but Aquaman, Flash, and Wonder Woman help him fight the monsters. Cyborg works to keep the Motherboxes apart so that Steppenwolf can't harness the power, and there is something to do with Darkseid. Superman comes into the save the day and they all work together to destroy Steppenwolf, sending him back into the cosmos.

Justice League is a lot more cartoonish than the previous films of the DC universe. I thought it was a nice change of tone and a fun film as opposed to the long slog of the film leading up to this one. The special effects didn't always look great but I felt like there was a lot more action from DC superheroes that we hadn't seen before. I also liked that I got to see Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman in action on the big screen for the first time. Introducing these characters may have been a bit rushed but I felt like it was a promise to revisit their origins later while moving them toward the epic battle at the end. Plenty of the jokes helped lighten the mood and the bright colors shown through the darkness of Zack Snyder's usual vision. Joss Whedon taking over added some of the lightheartednesses but the film does feel out of order and has odd effects because of reshoots. I have had mixed feeling about DC films but I look forward to its future now. 

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