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Not exactly justified: Review of "Justice League"

November 20, 2017

 

Midway through "Justice League," the members of the titular team decide the only way to save the day against their alien foe is to revive a certain character who shouldn’t even be dead in the first place. A considerable portion of the film is dedicated to fixing an unnecessary problem due to poor prior story telling. This says a lot about what "Justice League" is as a movie: a mistake with redeemable qualities.

 

Warner Bros. is playing catch up to Marvel in building their cinematic universe and their best efforts, including Wonder Woman, can be seen as course corrections rather than a natural evolution of their fictional reality. JL does little to move past its series’ reputation save for a generally successful use of humor and some great chemistry between the "Justice League" members. The league includes Batman, Wonder Woman (best of the league), Flash (now autistic for some reason), Aquaman (now a bro) and Cyborg (DC’s Iron Man).

 

Batman himself is essentially an allegory for the state of this franchise. He acknowledges he has made serious errors last seen in BvS, including his ludicrous, hostile behavior towards Superman, which got the latter killed. While one can make the argument that this qualifies as positive character development for the Caped Crusader, its built on the back of bad screenwriting which made the prior film so disastrous. It tells myself and others that for all of the effort "Justice League" and any given DC movie makes, it’s a gravely adapted series, poorly thought out and tied to its errors. It would be best to accept their failure and either try again or move on; but, Warner Bros. has too much of an investment at stake.

 

Structurally, "Justice League" is resoundingly familiar, not just to Marvel’s "The Avengers," but to most superhero stories in general, with barely an ounce of legitimate innovation. The villain, Steppenwulf, is as generically evil as one could make him (bwa-ha-ha, with these literal plot devices, I will terraform this planet!) but that’s not the worst part. He is the prime exhibit of the film’s astonishingly bad CGI effects, which make the film at the best of times like a top of the line PS4 cut scene. The final sequence of the league fighting Steppenwulf and his Parademon army looks just awful. Consider that this is reportedly the most expensive film ever made, pushing past $300 million in costs. It is embarrassing to look at and adds to the mundane plot, lack of emotional connection and other misc. issues that makes Justice League a microcosm of a failed cinematic experiment, though admittingly more palatable.

 

"Justice League" is at best expendable fun, but Thor: Ragnarok alone is effortlessly better at accomplishing the same thing and has more to it under the hood to boot. Not exactly an injustice, but a symptom of a larger scale one to be certain.

 

  

 

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