The Cinescape Podcast Episode 32: Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok, The Punisher Reviews

Check out episode 32 of the show as we review Marvel’s The Punisher season 1, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League and have an awesome interview with Kobi Frumer from The Punisher.

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Justice League Movie Review

For fans of the DC Extended Universe DC film universe, the ride through films like Man of Steel, Suicide Squad, BVS and Wonder Woman has been one filled with twists, turns, ups, downs, and enough fanboy trash talk to make you want to quit the internet.

Despite poor critical reactions from the first three efforts in Man of Steel (55% Rotten Tomatoes score), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (27% Rotten Tomatoes score) and Suicide Squad (26 % Rotten Tomatoes score), 2017 has been a solid year for the studio that also brought us Shaquille O’Neal as Steel and Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern in the past. Wonder Woman busted through to the joy of fans and critics alike (92% Rotten Tomatoes score) and seemingly changed the outlook for DC’s future on the big screen. With the backdrop of DC’s past out of the way, let’s get into Justice League. I’m going to get into my likes, dislikes, and my thoughts moving forward.

Likes

Bringing together heroes like Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and The Flash presents a bevy of problems in terms of screen time and usage, but the combination of Zack Snyder & Joss Whedon did a masterful job of showcasing each hero in this film. I loved seeing Bruce Wayne doing his damnedest to wrangle everyone together for the greater good, as each character had their own situations going on in the background. Whether it was Barry’s struggle to find a way to free his father from prison, Cyborg’s struggle to cope with existing in his new form, or Aquaman’s reluctance to even join the team, each character was very well fleshed out on a personal level.

There were so many moving parts to this film in terms of the plot. The main arc saw the villainous Steppenwolf on his quest to claim the three motherboxes, but the film was about more than just that. It opened up so many other avenues for future films in such a positive way that leaves me very excited for the future of these franchises. Since I mentioned Steppenwolf, let’s talk about him for a minute. I enjoyed about 95% of Steppenwolf’s inclusion in this film. He was an extremely formidable foe, continuously wreaking havoc at-will.

The scene on Themyscira as he is attempting to steal the motherbox from the Amazons was incredibly well done. The intense action sequences and ensuing carnage brought upon by this New God was an adrenaline-filled thrill ride. Seeing the mighty Amazons struggle (and fail) to protect their motherbox set the tone for the rest of the film.

Keeping in the realm of the action sequences, they were all pretty incredible. Watching these heroes work together was pure joy. While some people may complain about the overuse of CG, I thought everything looked really great for the most part, but I’ll come back to this again later. One other sequence that really stood out for me was the Atlantis portion of the film. The speculation about how underwater scenes would look in the upcoming Aquaman film has been a hot-button issue, but seeing it for the first time dispelled any negative thinking from my mind. The underwater sequences, to me, were flawless and really elevated my expectations for Aquaman.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman took an even bigger step forward in this film. Batman, in his own way, helped her to realize that she’d hidden herself away from the world for long enough. She becomes such a great leader in this film that makes me believe she could eventually serve as the overall “leader” of the Justice League down the line. She was smart, powerful and beautiful all at the same time.

 

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is certainly NOT the same character that comic readers grew up with. Gone are the days when the cast of Entourage can make fun of him. He was very complex; hesitant to be enlisted by Bruce until Steppenwolf stole the motherbox from Atlantis. His conversation with Mera really seemed to push him over the edge in terms of joining the rest of the heroes.

Admittedly, Cyborg is the character I knew the least about, but after seeing Ray Fisher’s portrayal of the character, I’m definitely a fan. His emotional turmoil paired with his need to save both his father and the world was really moving. Seeing him not in control of his own body and learning to use his “powers” was a fun ride.

As I am a big fan of The Flash both from the comics and the series on The CW, I was probably the most nervous about seeing him on the big screen. Grant Gustin does such an amazing job as the Scarlet Speedster on TV, but Ezra Miller’s take on him was so much fun. I think he really nailed the character, coming off as youthful, naive, scared, but ultimately a hero in his own right. His interactions with each of the other heroes was a lot of fun. His use of nervous humor brought levity to this film without detracting from the overall tone of the film.

What else can be said about Ben Affleck’s Batman? I’ve seen them all: Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale. None of them hold a candle to what Ben Affleck brings to the table as the Dark Knight. He’s a bona-fide ass-kicker, a legitimate detective, an incredible tactician, and he even played nice with others. Despite the rumors that he may not continue to carry on the role, I remain hopeful that he will, especially after seeing him in this film.

 

There’s only one hero left to talk about, and that’s Superman. The Last Son of Krypton was given new life after being imbued with the power of a motherbox, returning to seemingly want to kill everyone. The first scene where Clark returns was something special. Seeing the look of pure rage and hatred on his face as he began to dismantle each JL member was something that I certainly didn’t expect. And when he finally sees Batman and grips him up and asks him if he also bleeds (a call back from BVS), it literally sent chills down my spine. Though Clark would eventually come to his senses after Lois arrives, I had the thought that this might not be the last time we see Superman behave in this manner. Could an Injustice storyline be used in the future where Superman turns evil? After seeing him behave this way, if only for a few short minutes, would be really cool if expanded upon.

Dislikes

Though I enjoyed what Steppenwolf brought to the table as a villain, his backstory could have been given more development. We’re not really told too much in terms of who he really is or what his goals are besides destroying worlds. I understand why he wasn’t more developed, though, as WB mandated a strict 2-hour runtime for this film. Getting into the mythology of the New Gods is something that I’m eager to explore; hopefully this is something that comes to fruition by the time Darkseid joins the fray. There were also a few times where I thought he was giving too much exposition in terms of revealing his plan.

I mentioned that while I enjoyed the use of humor in this film, there were definitely a few times where maybe it could have been toned down just a bit, but these instances weren’t a distraction for me. I also could have done without the red backdrop of scenery during the final battle, but if you’ve seen anything Zack Snyder has directed in the past, it’s just kind of his thing. I also said that I thought the CG was mostly very good, but I think Steppenwolf looked just a little bit off.

There were only a few other dislikes I had, chiefly with Aquaman’s and Mera’s conversation after Steppenwolf stole the Atlantean motherbox. Mera started going on about his relationship with his mother and it just didn’t feel like the right time or place. It also felt like they didn’t really seem all that upset about losing the motherbox. I also could have done without the inclusion of the Russian family seen towards the end of the film. They added nothing to the film at all except for the opportunity for Superman to save people, which momentarily took him out of the fight against Steppenwolf.

Final Thoughts

There were so many awesome things about this movie that I really enjoyed, especially with how little I’ve liked the majority of the DC films to this point. The future of the DC film universe certainly looks bright with how great each of the main characters were as they head into their own solo films. Hopefully DC and Warner Bros. can stop the behind the scenes antics that are killing said hope: losing directors, announcing too many films at once, potentially losing Ben Affleck as Batman, etc.

Easter Eggs

  • Steppenwolf mentions Darkseid (who is his nephew in the comics)
  • Steppenwolf also mentions the New Gods
  • Cyborg is shown to have a version of his costume seen in the comics at the end of the film
  • A Green Lantern is shown fighting Steppenwolf in the beginning of the film along with the Old Gods
  • The term ‘Doomsday Clock’ is mentioned, which is a nod to a comic arc.
  • While inside Wayne Manor at the end of the film, Bruce mentions adding a large table to the giant empty room, possibly laying the groundwork for the Hall of Justice.
  • Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor appears in a post-credit scene having escaped prison with the help of Deathstroke. Luthor also mentions forming his own Injustice League
  • In another post-credit scene, The Flash races Superman, which is a call-back to an earlier scene in the film and a famous storyline from the comics

I’m sure there are plenty of others that I missed after my first screening of the film, but feel free to comment further if you pick up on anything else.

Now that the League has been united, what are your thoughts on the film? Where do you see this film universe going? What characters did you like or dislike? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!