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JUSTICE LEAGUE has ruined any chance to salvage DC Comics films…

Posted on November 20th, 2017
Posted on November 20th, 2017

by Coop Cooper

I cut superhero movies a lot of slack. I read comic books when I was a kid and I was always frustrated that there were few to nil movies or TV shows that could capture the grand scope of a battle between Spider-Man and the Hulk or The Flash versus the Legion of Doom. When computer generated imagery (CGI) hit a tipping point in the 90’s, possibilities opened up. Now that they are pretty much perfected, virtually any superhero property is within reach for a feature film adaptation or even a big-budgeted TV show. This has done wonders for films from the Marvel Comics franchise (like the fantastic “Thor: Ragnarok”), but the DC Comics films (besides Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy) have struggled to find coherence and acceptance from fans as well as consistent box office success. If “Justice League” is their best try in bringing it all together, perhaps their best bet is to scrap it all and start over from scratch.

With Superman (Henry Cavill) dead, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana “Wonder Woman” Prince (Gal Gadot) try to recruit other superheroes to repel an imminent alien threat. With some convincing, they bring Arthur “Aquaman” Curry (Jason Momoa), Barry “The Flash” Allen (Ezra Miller) and Victor “Cyborg” Stone (Ray Fisher) to their cause in order to repel Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an inter-dimensional conquerer who along with his winged ‘parademons’ aims to join three alien artifacts hidden on Earth in order to wipe out all life on the planet. In the process, the heroes come up with a plan to use the artifacts to right a wrong that could give them an upper hand.

This ambitiously brainless superhero film manages to make a bad move at every turn. So little works that it feels like a slow-motion train wreck. The cliche story, the inconsistent tone, the throwback music, the bad CGI, the choppy action, the lack of dignity and respect for the characters… all of it terrible. Three new characters are introduced, yet no time is spent on developing them and the story seems to proceed assuming we know them well, which we don’t. We needed at least one or two additional hero origin stories before reaching this point, but it would appear the studio rushed into it to compete with Marvel. Far be it from me to say a movie should be longer, but this one needed an extra hour just to fit in enough development to make it feel somewhat complete.

I would quickly run out of space talking about what I hated, but I will mention one of the most bizarre unforced errors I’ve ever seen in a superhero film – Superman’s upper lip. If you see the film, take special notice of Henry Cavill’s mouth and try to note if anything seems off. They look poorly animated. That is because Paramount Studio forbade Cavill from shaving a large, bushy mustache he was growing for “Mission: Impossible 6”. For some reason he complied and filmed his scenes as Superman wearing that stupid mustache, forcing digital animators to waste time removing it in post production. It looks ridiculously, needlessly phony. I don’t know who is actually to blame for that, but it is an inexcusable, laughable mistake that could have been easily fixed with a dime store razor as opposed to bad CGI that probably took an obscene chunk of the film’s budget.

It got a few things right. The ‘speed rivalry’ between The Flash and Superman was well-referenced. The flashback where the Amazons and Atlanteans teaming up with humans, Green Lanterns and Olympian Gods to defeat Steppenwolf in the Middle Ages (?) was easily the best scene in the film. Besides Ray Fisher, the lead actors were fine for their roles, even when their dialogue was poorly written. That’s about it.

I hate that the DC franchise has become such a disappointment, both critically and creatively. It didn’t have to happen this way, but at this point, it doesn’t feel salvageable in its current incarnation. The “Aquaman” movie is probably too far along to back out of now and “Wonder Woman” was technically a hit so a sequel for it is probably a done deal. If “Justice League” tanks completely, it will put everyone involved in a tough and unfair position, including the more optimistic fans who hold out hope that DC Comics films can still be steered in a positive direction.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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