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!

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

The movie began slowly, introducing the backstory of Bruce Wayne and quickly jumping back and forth to scenes of other characters. The theme of pacing and editing, to me, was a major pitfall of this movie. It spent so much time playing catch up by introducing so many new characters all at once that it hindered the story.

Logic would also play into my cons. There were more than a few times I was taken out of the movie  because I had to stop and think about what was happening and I was left confused by a bunch of things. The constant story shifting played into the logistical issues because of how the story was unfolding that it didn’t portray the characters in a very positive light. The action scenes are pretty fantastic. I don’t mind the over-the-top action sequences as long as they’re done in a way that is engaging and meaningful.

Batman, played perfectly by Ben Affleck, has never been so violent and brutal. Gone are the Val Kilmer/George Clooney Batmen. Affleck plays the quintessential Batman, paying homage to George Miller’s “The Dark Knight” comics from the ‘80s. Well played, sir.

Henry Cavill plays a solid Superman, and as a fan of Man of Steel, I had some issues with his character. Logic again, but I won’t get into spoilers in this post. Gal Gadot, after much controversy leading up to the release about her portrayal as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, was solid as well. The fans in my theatre gave a nice applause when she showed up in her armor, which was nice. This is a very important role for female fans and the future marketing of female-lead super hero films, and Gal did a fine job.

Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor was…strange. His quirks and eccentricities were bordering Batman Forever-like style but saved by his intensity. Ever-faithful butler, Alfred, played by the amazing Jeremy Irons, was a perfect casting. I don’t care too much for Amy Adams as Lois. I find her’s and Clark’s relationship annoying, personally. 

The addition of the “big bad” of the movie, Doomsday, didn’t look all that great and was shoehorned in and didn’t make a lot of sense. The fight scenes were pretty cool, though.

There were a bunch of scenes that were clearly meant to foreshadow the future DC movie universe, but they felt wholly out of place and unexplained. The quick introductions of the future Justice League members in Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman felt forced and out of place. 

The movie spent too much time planting seeds, as it has to quickly establish their cinematic universe and catch up to Marvel/Disney. Although I mostly enjoyed the film, the problems I’ve gone over and others not mentioned lowered my score. I had my expectations lowered early in the week as critic reviews from online sources I follow didn’t give overly-positive reviews. My score would be a 6 out of 10. Keep in mind that’s a pretty decent score, it means there were more things I liked about it than things I didn’t. Would I recommend anyone seeing it? Yes, absolutely. If You’re a fan of the super hero genre, go see it.

Wonder Woman Review

75 years ago, Wonder Woman first hit the comic page in All-Star Comics #8. Since that time, she has gone on to fight Nazis, tackle women’s rights, and even had a hugely popular TV series starring Lynda Carter. As popular and iconic as Wonder Woman has remained throughout the decades, she had never appeared on the big screen until 2016’s ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, where the super heroine was portrayed by actress Gal Gadot. Fans generally seemed to love Gadot’s portrayal of the Amazonian princess, which led to her first feature film, finally.

As a man, it’s going to be difficult for me to differentiate and articulate my feelings on this film from the overall meaning and message that the movie portrayed. I want to be as fair as I can in terms of my review of the film itself, but also want to take time to explain my feelings on just what this movie means to the general film-going audience. As a man, I cannot accurately depict a female’s perspective on what this film meant to them and nothing that I write can ever come close to it. I also don’t want to give a play-by-play of the film, but will talk about some of the bigger plot points.

When we last saw Diana in BvS, she had just helped Batman and Superman defeat Doomsday. However, this new film is a bit of a prequel. We see a quick glimpse of Diana in the present, where she is looking at a photograph of her and a crew of men, the same photo showed in BvS. This photo is the actual original copy, which was sent to Diana by Bruce Wayne. Diana begins to recall the events that led up to the taking of the photo which sends us back to her childhood on the mystical island of Themyscira. The majority of the film takes place during World War I. With some of the background of the plot and setting out of the way, I’ll talk about my likes and dislikes before giving my overall score of the film.

Likes

Knowing that Gal Gadot hasn’t really been acting all that long and hasn’t been in too many films, I was hesitant expecting her to be great. The short amount of screen time she got in BvS didn’t do much for me in terms of my expectations for her leading her own film. However, I think she did a really nice job in the film. Diana in ‘Wonder Woman’ is a very naïve character, as she’s never experienced the outside world. She has such a big heart and wants to fulfill her duty as a guardian of Earth against the forces of evil, and this aspect is very prominent in the film. Her selfless acts and love for mankind really shine, as she repeatedly puts the needs of others ahead of everything else.

Diana’s character is fleshed out very well and her motivations really struck home for me. The action scenes that we do get to see are very well done and made for fun scenes, as we get to see her powers evolve throughout the story. She really comes into her own by the end of the film and it’s easy to make the jump to BvS. I also really enjoyed the Amazon mythology, as I am a fan of ancient Greek stories. The inclusion of the pantheon of Greek gods into the DCEU is quite an undertaking and I think director Patty Jenkins fit it in very nicely.

I’m also a sucker for period pieces, and with the setting of World War I, a time period that doesn’t get a lot of attention in modern storytelling, the feel of the film with its costumes and mannerisms were really cool. I’m glad that the story didn’t put a giant emphasis on gender inequality, though it is a present theme. I feel like constantly harping on the subject would have taken too much attention off of the main plot. The inequality theme also comes up racially with other characters, which were also enlightening, especially in today’s world. (Side note: it’s disheartening to see that issues that were prevalent in the 1940s are still rearing its ugly head today, but I digress). I enjoyed some of the side characters, but I’ll talk more about them when I get into my dislikes. Overall, Gal Gadot did a really great job in her first leading film and I look forward to seeing more of her in the upcoming DCEU films. The main villain turned out to be formidable and looked really cool.

Dislikes

As I mentioned above, I liked some of the side character, but also had a lot of issues with them as well. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor was a really nice addition to the film, but I feel like his role took a lot away from Wonder Woman. For a film that has such an iconic female super hero leading her FIRST film, Steve Trevor’s role was too large, in my opinion. There were a lot of moments that could lead audience members to believe that the film was actually about him and not Diana, and to me, this was a mistake. I wanted to see Diana not having to rely too much on Steve’s leadership, but I understand the thinking behind it, as I previously mentioned her naivety. With a film like this, I would have preferred to see more female characters in larger roles outside of the events on Themyscira.

One of the worst characters in the film was Dr. Poison. The trailers depicted her as a large villain in the film and she largely does next to nothing. She really took me out of the film when she appeared on-screen, as the actress portraying her was bad and her facial expressions were ridiculous. She looked like she was constantly surprised at everything going on whenever she appeared. I also didn’t care for Steve’s group of friends. They ultimately had no real skill and didn’t actually do much of anything.

I have one gripe, which may seem trivial and silly, but annoyed me. In the beginning of the film, a quick glimpse of an armadillo scattering across the landscape is shown. Armadillo are indigenous to the Americas, so I’m not sure how one would appear on an island near Greece. If armadillo do appear on other places around the world, feel free to rip me in the comment section of this post.

My final dislike regards pretty much the entire second act of the film. We saw a really cool battle scene of Themyscira at the end of the first act, but after that, the film got very boring with lengthy dialogue and pacing issues that started to take me out of the film. Too much time was spent on things like shopping, planning and talking and I feel like 20 minutes could have been removed to make the film flow more smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Despite some of the issues I had with this film, it was still really awesome to get Wonder Woman her own solo film. Gal’s performance as the most iconic female super hero outweighs some of my issues and I can’t help but be excited for her future in the DCEU. DC/WB still has a long way to go, as BvS was a letdown and Suicide Squad was horrendous. Here’s hoping that Justice League will finally be the film to reel me in completely.

My Rating: 7/10

The Cinescape Podcast Episode 21

Join us as we review Wonder Woman, talk about our experiences at Wizard World Philadelphia, and recap the latest film & TV news.

SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel  today!
Find us on social media!
Twitter: @CinescapeCast
Instagram: @thecinescape
Subscribe to, rate and share our iTunes feed: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinescape/id1151132229?mt=2
Check out the latest movie & TV news and reviews on our website:
Don’t Play It Safe, Play It Toxic!
Stop in to Alternate Dimension Toys and mention our show for a 15% discount!
Follow HOTCHKA on Twitter for your chance at free advanced movie tickets!:
@Hotchka_PHL
Enter HOTCHKA’s blu-ray giveaway contest:
Help fund our show by donating to our Patreon page!
Click the link below for a FREE audiobook from audible.com: