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Justice League

Warner Bros. // PG-13 // March 13, 2018
List Price: $24.25 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted April 6, 2018 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

There is apparently a cinematic arms race going on in the comic book action hero genre right now between the two largest studios. One side has Marvel, home to the Avengers and all of the characters that comprise that world, and the other is DC, home to characters like Batman, Superman et al. And in the time it took for Marvel to devote exclusive films to several characters before rounding up the Avengers for 2 films, DC slowly did films on the Bat and the Super (along with a well-received film on Wonder Woman) before finally diving into getting them all together in Justice League.

Chris Terrio wrote the DC film Batman v. Superman and did this screenplay to this. Zack Snyder (Watchmen) directed the film, but left during pre-production for personal reasons and was replaced by Marvel cinematic contributor Joss Whedon. The film follows on the heels on the Batman v. Superman film and the latter's death, as the world remains confused, shocked and scared by it. Moreover, his death has triggered a return of sorts by a Nordic-type creature named Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), who attempts to overtake the world. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, Keeping Up With the Joneses) learns of Steppenwolf's return and reaches out to Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck, Gone Girl) for help, along with the help of other heroes.

After having some time to watch and ponder over what I saw in Justice League combined with what little I've seen of the DC films (basically Man of Steel and clips of 2 others), I'm still left wondering what the point in making this movie was. Was it to get the most recognizable DC faces out into the pop culturesphere and then tried to put something together in the vein of the Avengers films? Because if so, it put the cart before the horse in the process. Marvel did five different films on 4 of its characters before that first Avengers, and to get to Justice League, you had basically two and a half films before getting to a similar point. Sure, Justice League introduces Aquaman (Jason Momoa, Conan the Barbarian), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Flash (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin) as part of the mythology, but they're mostly secondary roles to the central trio.

But moreover, Justice League goes through the motions in its story too. It borrows a character used in Man of Steel which was pretty silly to begin with and made it a more dramatic killer (you'll see it early on too), and that's not the most egregious part of the movie. It borrows from most other previous machinations in other films, a big battle, a surprise reappearance, moments of humor and attempted emotion, that there's else they do for grunt work. There's occasional interesting interaction between Gadot and Affleck, Hinds' voice is present more than his face (and he kind of looks like Liam Neeson here, so it is fitting I guess), but you see everything coming a mile away, and nothing; not the script, nor the ensemble's execution, makes it interesting or even puts up a fight.

I don't really have a stake in the Marvel-DC snarkiness amongst its fans and I don't (that I know of) have any loyalty one way or another towards either group of comic book heroes, but at least Marvel seems to try to make things enjoyable for a viewer of its films. The results may fall flat occasionally, but the effort is evident. I didn't really see that in Justice League. Heck, I didn't really see anything of anything, if you get down to it.

The Blu-ray Disc:
The Video:

Warner presents Justice League in an AVC-encoded 1.85:1 high-definition transfer. While surprising to see a film of this scope in this aspect ratio, I guess it was nice to see exteriors of the Kents' farm lush in greens, reds and browns. The problem with that is that that's maybe a hair on the head of this film that's largely green screens and computer graphics, all of which look OK but the image tends to soften against them, and the many darker moments in the feature tend to be inconsistent and crush a little. It is kind of surprising to see this film look not that good on Blu-ray, and Warner should do better in future releases.

The Sound:

The Dolby Atmos track doth bring the sonic goods as one would expect for a comic book action movie, with lots of explosions that bring out the channel panning and subwoofer involvement. The evil bug type things whir throughout the soundstage and make for a immersive (and albeit silly) experience, and quieter moments of reflection include consistent and well-balanced dialogue, and Danny Elfman's score sounds dynamic throughout the film. It certainly sounds good as you'd expect it to.


Things start with two deleted scenes (2:04) titled "The Return of Superman" which are, well, just that. "Road to Justice" (14:10) provides the comic history of the characters and getting to this point, along with any applicable meaning and symbolism. "Heart of Justice" (11:52) is more focused on the Bat/Super/Woman core of things. "Technology of Justice League" (8:14) looks at the weapons, gadgets and masks in the film and includes animatics, previews, and the like. From there, "The New Heroes" (12:24) looks at the additions to the cinematic universe, "Steppenwolf the Conqueror" (3:03) focuses on the baddie, and "Scene Studies" looks at four different moments in the film (15:16) using production design, previsualization, rehearsals, more animatics, and storyboard to screen comparisons. "Suit Up" (10:21) looks at the costumes of the heroes and villains.

Final Thoughts:

I'd be down for a movie, any movie that had Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman in one place, that entertained me. Justice League is not that movie, and in a film that could have served as an announcement of intentions by and to a lot of characters, the film slept through two hours of the usual action film tropes that its cinematic predecessor did, and did much better to boot. Guess I'll see if the animated DC films are any better, because this live action one was forgettable.

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