In genuine Watch.Read.Listen. fashion, we are here to give you a considerably late review of the latest DCEU film Justice League. We don’t usually throw up reviews of more current films as we usually leave them for discussions on the podcast. For the benefit of our listeners, I’ve decided to forgo doing that on the next episode that we record, and have decided to quickly jot down my thoughts here.
I’ve read plenty of reviews going into this, and the stand-out thing is that this is a Frankenstein’s Monster of a film. I even brought it up in the first of our RANT segments on the latest episode where I went on a tear about Snyder-ites. The number one thing, is that while I could spot some of the disjointed tonal shifts, they didn’t bother me the way that most people mention them. In fact, all of the major nit-picks that I had read, didn’t bother me in the least. Having finally seen the film, I feel they come off like people trying to find something wrong with the film (from both pro, and con, Snyder fans).
Let’s get some of those out of the way first.
I can see why people keep posting the same screen-shots of Henry Cavill’s Uncanny Valley upper lip. Besides a couple other shots, these two are the time where it honestly stands out. I felt they actually did a good job at hiding the CGI removal better than I’ve heard, and I wasn’t distracted in the least by this.
The Flash falling into Wonder Woman’s boobs: It lasts not even a half a second on screen, and doesn’t even really draw attention to the fact that it happened. I’m actually kind of confused as to why folks made a big deal of this in the first place. The way folks made it sound, it was as if Joss Whedon had made a point of framing the shot to bring attention to it. That’s not how it’s played out. It’s a wide master shot. Some of the comedic bits are definitely from Zack Snyder’s original assembly. They are seen in the trailer, just expanded in the theatrical. This happens all the time when we see a film.
I’m not going to lie, I’m happy this wasn’t an almost 3 hour Zack Snyder wank fest. We don’t know what elements Joss Whedon was given to work with, but he definitely did a great job considering the length of the re-shoots. The things that people are complaining about? Black Superman Suit, seeing Darkseid, Cyborg’s backstory, no Junkie XL score, etc. None of this is missed, and if I might add, necessary to the story. I actually prefer that we are only given small bits of info about Cyborg’s origin. We are given the info we need, and the rest is fluff. Would it be cool to see a black Superman suit, because hey, we all loved how it looked in The Death of Superman? Sure. But it’s not necessary. I have listened to Danny Elfman’s score without seeing the film at least five to six times, and I think it works better in the film than as a standalone score. It still feels a tad bit jarring to hear the old Batman and Superman themes throughout but I would be lying if I didn’t say they put a smile on my face.
And the biggest highlight? That I don’t see a single Snyder-ite talking about? Joss Whedon obviously understands Superman. More than Zack Snyder could, and this might be one of the reasons that Snyder asked Whedon to come on bored. We finally get the character that that third Man of Steel trailer promised. He’s not glum, he’s not mopey, and he takes on the task of being a beacon of hope for the first time in this entire DCEU continuity. Instead of pounding on Steppenwolf, he goes and actively helps civilians out of the area, something we didn’t even see him do in Man of Steel.
I found myself chuckling at how awkward Ezra Miller’s Flash was around the group. As some one who worries about stumbling over themselves when interacting with the public in social situations, I enjoyed it and could identify with it.
Something else I heard complaints about? Oversexualizing Wonder Woman. Especially, on the heels of Patty Jenkins’ fantastic Wonder Woman film. I think I encountered one moment where I felt, maybe, the camera lingered on Diana Prince’s ass for longer than necessary. Of course this is attributed to Whedon, based on a first draft of his Wonder Woman script he wrote almost TEN years ago, but who knows when that was shot. I heard about up-skirt shots, and if they took place, I’m pretty sure the camera didn’t linger the way I heard it did.
Tone wise, Diana is just as strong a character as she was in Patty Jenkins’ film. The “romance” between Diana and Bruce? Go read that 2011 draft of a Justice League film, and then we might talk. Joss Whedon definitely doesn’t go the same direction as that “script” did.
In fact, if we want to talk about the jarring nature of tones, I honestly didn’t feel like this happened to the degree that other critics mentioned. I felt the film flowed really well from an editing standpoint, and didn’t feel like things were off like they were from the Batman v Superman theatrical cut to the extended cut. People complaining about Joss Whedon’s style of shooting vs Snyder’s I felt were off the mark. They blended better than Whedon was given credit* for. Whedon often has to deal with critics lambasting him for a more television approach to directing. I feel like this discredits Whedon’s eye, which is better than he gets credit for, and lifts up Snyder’s direction, which while he is a strong visualist, he isn’t as good as people say he is (I’ve read on multiple occasions “god-tier” directing in regards to Snyder… which is laughable).
I wrote all of this to say that, honestly, I enjoyed Justice League. I wish it had done better theatrically so that both the Snyder apologists, and detractors, were put in their place in regards to the DCEU. This was a better step forward, like Wonder Woman, and both Snyder and Whedon should be applauded for at least seeing that their was something to course correct. It’s possible that Snyder was locked in to Chris Terrio’s script, and wasn’t sure how to progress until to late. He then calls on the guy who delivered The Avengers to help re-work his script, but it’s a mess. Snyder is already dealing with a travesty I wouldn’t wish upon anyone (the death of a child), and he steps back and hopes that Whedon can deliver, which I feel like he did given what he had to work with.
If I am going off of just a fun time at the cinema, Justice League gets high marks. I smiled, and laughed, and cried (when Martha sees Clark for the first time, for instance), more than I did with any previous DCEU film.
If you want to hear me rail against the sad fucks who are running a petition on change.org, go listen to Episode 74 of the podcast on our new RANT segment.
I can honestly give Justice League a solid 3.5/5. It is a step in the right direction. I just wish WB and DC Films could figure out how to get it completely back on track.