Sometimes a hero needs to venture out from warmth and safety, to travel across town to selflessly use up a friend's free ticket, to see a film that begs to be seen.
And sometimes that hero is thwarted by Thor : Ragnarok being sold out on a cold Sunday afternoon despite being released weeks ago. A hero in that situation might be forced to take drastic measures and spend his free ticket on Justice League instead.
I am going to be upfront and say that I didn't see Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice but apparently Superman is dead.
Batman has the inside scoop on an imminent alien invasion but feels he lacks the ability to cope by himself. So he teams up with Wonder Woman to track down some randoms he thinks might be able to help. The Flash turns out to be some kid with the super useful skill of running really, really fast. Cyborg is half alien himself, which seems like a mixed blessing in this situation, but at least he is familiar with the otherworldly box-based technology the aliens plan to steal. Also, Batman spends ages tracking down and recruiting Aquaman for some reason.
Everyone eventually decides that the league Batman put together is a little on the pathetic side so they bring Superman back to life. Justice is then meted out in the form of lots of punching.
There were a few things I really liked about Justice League:
- The way the characters with wildly different powers interacted. So many super hero films just devolve into punching and body slams, but here (at least until the final fight) the characters actually use their powers appropriately. The Flash, for instance, is useless in a straight fight but buzzes around the sides helping out.
- I liked the portrayal of Superman and how everyone else starts off terrified that he will end up being worse than the aliens.
- The most exciting scene in the film was right at the start where Wonder Woman takes care of some terrorists by actually acting like a hero - a rarity in these film. God knows why she has a secret identity though.
- It was only about 15 minutes too long instead of 70 minutes too long like most films these days.
The things I hated include:
- Most comic book films have terrible villains with stupid plots. Justice League is not an exception. Steppenwolf looks stupid, does not really have clear goals, and is taken down in about 10 minutes of effort.
- With all the wackiness going on, making the Cyborg a tragic character really brought the film down. I was pretty unclear on what he could actually do.
- The final fight was a little tedious, showing none of the cute touches that made the other fights somewhat tolerable.
- This might seem light nit-picking but there didn't seem to be much justice happening. The league did stop an alien invasion, something I am in favor of, but the correct term for what they did is warfare not justice. I feel like the distinction is important in these interesting times.
Justice League was half directed by Zack Snyder and then finished off by Joss Whedon - two people with very different styles. This has made the film something of an entertaining chimera; during the dull bits you can play "who did what". Occasionally it is very obvious. Whedon clearly lightened both the mood and the color-scheme from the patented Zack Snyder smoke-tinged grim monochrome.
Speaking of Zack Synder, he gets a lot of flack for his ugly and incoherent films but he is quite simply the best second-unit director working in Hollywood today and the action scenes are pretty cool. And Whedon is good at spinning relatable dialog out of ridiculous characters. Together they have managed to almost make a proper movie. They even have a decent stab at making Superman likable.
Would I recommend Justice League? I watched it for free on a dreary Sunday afternoon and didn't feel like I wasted my time. Final verdict : meh, could do worse.