Cinematic Releases: Team Building Exercises: Justice League (2017) Reviewed

Justice League: a creatively amalgamated movie that makes it to the finish line under the hands of two distinctly different directors. With Snyder leaving for personal reasons and directorial fanboy Joss Whedon latching on to finish the job, DC followers will find themselves in familiar territory. We've been here before in 2013 and 2016. It's a heavy bag loaded with some good, some bad, and one standout character that brings selfless heroism to the plate. 

At long last, the massive DCEU production sees the light of day giving worldwide audiences a mixed menu of rushed plot points, a clunky narrative, huge set pieces and some extremely cool interplay between DC's biggest comic book characters of all time. Despite the changing of the guard midway through the edit, Justice League borrows a few pointers from the Marvel playbook as they take their action packed dance of death on a globetrotting tour that plays the superhero team-up card from front to back. If one thing is for sure, it never lets up for a second. 

Screw saving the world! Someone get me a drink!
I'm Bat-thirsty!

The Justice League finally unites to do battle against the villainous Steppenwolf as hope makes a return in the form of a newly resuscitated Superman. Wading through a heavy dose of heroic exposition and (at last) real introductions to Flash, Cyborg, and the massive Aquaman, this newest entry in their universe definitely feels more centered. However, the nearly fifty minutes that's sitting on the cutting room floor creates many incongruent lapses in the way the story flows. You can just tell there was a better movie in here somewhere. Give it to us, WB.

There will be heavy division about this blockbuster in the exact same fashion as Man of Steel and BvS. Many similar issues rear their ugly heads. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just as many of those problematic areas are corrected. At long last, DC finds the humor without becoming overbearing or annoying with it. They allow their team to form around another world threatening event while they still find time to crack jokes and play off each other which in turn gives us a better rounded and often times focused product. This team building exercise is less dramatically robust than the last two, has hints of the Wonder Woman glory, and never distracts with silly side stories. 

Many of the people that reviled the critically demolished Batman v Superman will find many similar traits here. The film looks gritty. The CGI is used excessively which becomes distracting at times. And the computer altered upper lip of Superman is extremely noticeable to a fault. Now, it may seem that I'm quickly attacking the negatives of Justice League. Being a BvS apologist and an actual fan of all of Snyder's previous works, my critique is extremely balanced. Is this the perfect rendition that we've all been waiting for? Probably not. Even the most die hard DC comic book fan will see the glaring scripting edits. The missing parts of the puzzle are so apparent it hurts. In turn, we may end up getting an extended cut at some point because it desperately needs it. 

Damn. I am the numero uno reviewed super hero
here at The Movie Sleuth. Sweet baby Jesus!

Do I dare say the film is fun? Yes, I do. 

Where Snyder's last two entries caved to a heavy handed feeling of dread and doom, (not complaining) Justice League has a certain spark that brings this entire franchise back to an even footing. There's finally a dynamic. And there's some magic between the newly formed league. Instead of the chronic dark hues and melancholic tones that Snyder loves to typically work in, this movie finally finds some fantastic colors and bright spots that help bring symmetry to a film that needed to bring the formative heroes together. It feels like Whedon knew that the final color grading needed to match the bevy of heroes on screen. And it works. 

Finally seeing the League working together to destroy an otherworldly yet underdeveloped foe simply feels right. Batman is drunk. Wonder Woman's smile is infectious. Superman is hardened by his own death. Aquaman delivers the goods. Cyborg is a total bad ass. And the best thing about the entire movie. Ezra brings a heightened sensibility and youthful innocence to Barry Allen that just feels cool and collected. It would be hard to say that he's not the driving force behind Justice League. 

Brett Ratner, this sword has your name on it. 

So, don't go in expecting absolute greatness. Understand that there's a lot of elements that hearken back to the other Snyder productions. Know that the spark of the Wonder Woman stand alone isn't really here. But this is finally a leg up for the expanded universe we've been hoping for. It still not the best comic book movie ever but it's a minor step in the right direction that begins to right the ship even though it's anchored by a flawed system that doesn't like to release films as they stand. The shortened edit is the one marker that can be felt all over this entire project. Hopefully, we get the Justice League: Ultimate Edition. It's the movie we need right now.