Review Justice League film review by murnau
Written By murnau on 2017-11-21 13:51:46
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At around $300 million, Justice League is reportedly one of the most expensive movies ever made. The obvious response to that fact is: how could they only manage to produce a CGI villain that looked, at best, like a sub-par noughties video game character?
Cards on the table: warts and all, I enjoyed Justice League. A surprise, as it’s a movie with the ominous tag ‘directed by Zack Snyder’. Awful circumstances prevented Snyder from finishing the movie. He stepped away in May 2017, whereupon Joss Whedon was drafted in (who else?). Whedon wrote and directed additional scenes (a substantial amount, according to some reports), though Snyder retained full directing credit.
Without wanting to speak ill or lightly about the upshot of heartbreaking misfortune, I cannot avoid crediting the stronger elements of this movie to Whedon. Instinctively funny, Whedon brings a unique humour to almost everything he touches. It’s a humour that avoids trivialising, and seems to deepen the drama and imbue characters with three-dimensional warmth.
I’ll mention just one moment. Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) begins a confessional monologue that’s completely out of character. He shares his vulnerability, lonelines and fear about the oncoming showdown. Bruce Wayne gestures to Curry with his eyes, who realises he’s sitting on Diana Prince/Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. It’s a beat that shares similarities with the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where the Avengers fool around with Thor’s hammer, daring each other to lift it. Such scenes deliver frothy humour while showing the characters to be playful and human.
Such humour is missing from the recent Thor: Ragnarok, which seemed to render it’s entire narrative two-dimensional and inconsequential with its comedy. Popular and lucrative as that movie has proved, I found it trivial and irritating. ‘Ragnarok’ – the end of days – barely seemed to matter in a movie that was a blatant attempt to repeat the success of both installments of Guardians of the Galaxy. Where Guardians made you care about its characters, Ragnarok was as thin as a comic-book aimed at pre-adolescents.
While the villain is neither here nor there, and the macguffin forgettable and generic (‘mother boxes’? ‘infinite energy matrix’? – whatever!) what is genuinely enjoyable about Justice League is the friction between characters, the teenaged awkwardness of Barry Allen/The Flash (particularly when interacting with Wonder Woman’s), and the heroic vignettes that Whedon knows how to deliver. Batman broods from high gothic ledges, Wonder Woman soars, swoops and blocks bullets with her wrist-guards, and Superman (when he finally gets his sh*t together) deals a mighty blow for justice. Such classic poses are what superhero fans hope for and thrill to, and this movie delivers, even if so much else about it is a dog’s dinner, uneven in tone and sub-standard in its CGI.
The digital grading of Justice League is poor. It seems to cover everything in an artificial sheen. It’s not good for a movie when you’re not sure if you’re looking at an actor’s real face or a digitally-altered version of it. When appearing as Bruce Wayne, Ben Affleck’s immobile face either betrays the amount of work he’s had done, or the disconcerting alteration of it in post-production. Though less bothersome, Henry Cavill’s screen time as Superman causes the same weird facial confusion. And Clark Kent’s reunion scene with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) happens in a corn-field so fake that I couldn’t keep my attention on drama or emotion. All I could see was the uniform dance of plastic foliage, the unconvincing studio light and the unnaturally colourised sunset. The world’s most expensive movie? Where did the money go?