Justice League Review: Fan vs NonFan

Growing up, my favorite superhero was Superman. He was good, and kind, and powerful and I lapped up every movie and TV show about him I could find. Then I started reading Spiderman comic books and my alliance shifted from DC to Marvel. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe came around I was hooked.

That being said, when the DC Extended Universe came around I gave it a fair shot and watched each and every movie they put out, finding them largely abysmal. With that in mind, I invited my friend JP, a DCEU fan, to balance out this Justice League review. (He liked Batman v. Superman, so you know he’s a true fan.)

Considering we haven’t agreed on a single thing our entire friendship, this should be fun!

JP: I think this might be the closest we ever came to agreeing on something! I’m JP and all you need to know about me for this review is that I am a storytelling lover, be it books, movies or TV and I absolutely loved Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. I started out as Superman fan and I’ve consumed all the best iterations of the character so far. The blue boy scout brought me to the larger DC Universe in 2011 and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

Does anyone remember that “Unite the Seven” Aquaman promo picture? Whatever happened to that mess?

The Story

“Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.  But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.”

Directed by Zack Snyder and revised by Joss Whedon, Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons.

The Best

Sara: the “new” characters. Though I have no idea how much they resemble their comic book counterparts, the main characters of Justice League are all well acted. Wonder Woman continues her winning streak from her solo movie, shinning as the de facto leader of the group, and the newly introduced Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg make for enjoyable protagonists. Their interactions ring true, their powers are fun, their dialogues entertaining, their dynamic something an entire series could be based on. It’s bizarre that the movie flounders as it does when the casting choices were so on point, and even with cringe-worthy dialogues and more jokes than most MCU movies, the characters make it work.

JP: The hints of what could have been. You could argue it’s also the worst, however for me it’s the saving grace of this movie and the only reason I might catch it a second time. If you look hard enough you can almost see the completion of Snyder’s trilogy.

In 2013, Clark heard in all earthling languages what may have been his deepest desire. He heard it from a man who would try to murder him and everyone he loved. “You are not alone.” It was a beautiful yet cruel lie.

In Batman v Superman, despite Lois, he finds himself more alone than ever, when half of humanity turns on him like his father feared. He [spoiler] dies alone to protect his world because the love he did receive was greater than all the hate there could be. In Justice League, we find 5 other heroes who are as alone as he ever was. What do an orphan billionaire, a demi-god, a cyborg, a speedester and the heir to the throne of Atlantis have in common? Solitude. Yet, as the tagline says, there comes a time where you can’t save the world alone. The Last Son of Krypton’s sacrifice serves as the catalyst to bringing these incredible individuals together.

You get glimpses of the League’s struggle, the thing that truly makes each of them remarkable. After witnessing a world every bit as horrible as ours, they are still willing to put down their lives to save it. That would have been the great “moral” of the trilogy. These heroes are not Super because of their powers but because they see the world for what it is and still deem it worth their lives. Inspiration comes from the struggle they overcame, not from the color or lightness of their characters. It would have tried to teach us that no matter how much hate there is in the world, one drop of love can overcome it all. Men would still have been good. Look hard and you will see it amid all the editing and re-shooting mess.

( Sara’s note: This is why I brought JP on, btw, because I don’t see this stuff at all.)

The Worst

Sara: It’s a tossup between the script, the soundtrack, the CGI, and the directing. So, basically, everything. The script is basic and inane, the soundtrack is forgettable, the CGI is appallingly fake looking for a movie that cost 300 million dollars, and the directing, well… This movie had two directing hands and you can definitely tell. Snyder and Whedon couldn’t have more different styles and the mix of the serious tone with the juvenile humor is a bad combo. Add to that the fact that the reshoots were so poorly done that you can tell exactly what shots were done by each director, the whole thing is a mess (some scenes cut between both in such alarming fashion it reminded me of Planet 9 From Outer Space were some scenes cut from night to day randomly).

JP: What actually was. Whatever you loved (or hated) about this universe is so diluted by jokes and pointless action that it becomes hard to love (or hate) anything. A brighter movie than BvS was expected and it could have worked in an awesome way. Indeed that’s where Snyder and Terrio where heading, as t even before BvS was released. What Warner Bros. did here was nothing short of a fan film. Seriously, even the CGI is closer to a fan attempt a lot the time. And I say Warner Bros. because this does seem like a film made by a committee. In the end, you can see both Snyder and Whedon’s mark but they are diluted in a such a watered down version of their styles it, re-edited, cut short and mixed beyond recognition. Here I have to do a dishonorable mention to Elfman’s soundtrack; how he could screw it up this badly is beyond my understanding. Even if you were a critic of the DCEU you should be able to realize Zimmer’s (and Junkie XL’s) soundtrack was some of the best there is. Elfman threw it all in the bin, unfortunately, and made the forgettable mesh that we got.

The Verdict

Sara: Justice League is mediocre in every single way. That’s it. There’s no silver lining, there’s no “oh, but that one bit was brilliant”, no. It’s mediocre, full stop, end of sentence. It’s the most expensive amateur looking movie I’ve ever seen, and I can’t for the life of me understand how an entire studio saw the final cut and deemed it good enough to send out to theaters across the world. It’s not self-important and dreary like Batman v. Superman, it’s not offensively bad like Suicide Squad. It’s watchable, but it’s not good, it’s not well made, it’s not quality cinema. It’s just… There.

JP: Warner Bros. tried to trade their current fanbase for the critics’ approval. That, they hoped, would bring the General Audience’s butts to fill the seats. It seemed to make sense business-wise. Turns out, however, people don’t really like movies made by committee. Is it enjoyable? Yes. If this were a Justice League Unlimited episode, I would definitely recommend it. Is it a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy? No, it is not.

Sara’s rating: 5/10

JP’s rating: 6/10

(Sara: Dude, that was closer than I thought it would be!)

Should You Watch It

Sara: If you like superhero movies and are at all invested in the DCEU, then yes. Though the ultimate reveal of the movie is so predictable everyone knew about it months in advance, Justice League is still a stepping stone in the DCEU, and you should probably watch it if you want to keep up with the universe. Plus, some interactions are actually enjoyable, so it’s not a total loss. If you want to watch a good superhero movie, though, then skip this and watch Thor: Ragnarok again, because Justice League is simply not that.

JP: If you love these characters, the same as I do, you will enjoy the movie. After all is said and done, it is enjoyable. That’s about it though. You will probably forget what you saw after a couple of hours. It’s just bland. I’d advise going see it with the same expectation you would watch a fan film. You might not be disappointed that way. If you are expecting the final chapter of those two movies that jump-started the DCEU and are close to becoming two full-fledged cult classics, you are better off sitting this one out. Unless you’d like to piece together what Snyder and Terrio were up to. That might be fun. I hope…

Xo,

Sara A.

(And JP)

7+

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