Monday, November 20, 2017

Review of JUSTICE LEAGUE: Heroes in Harmony

November 20, 2017

I grew up on DC Comics than Marvel. My favorite comic books as a child were about the Justice League of America, particularly JLA No. 10 about "The Fantastic Fingers of Felix Faust." I liked and followed all those animated series on TV about the JLA, from "Super Friends" (1973-1986) to "Justice League" (2001-2004) then "Justice League Unlimited" (2007-2010) 

Over the years, there have all sorts of Marvel Comics movies. However in the DC camp, only Superman and Batman movies got a silver screen treatment in various incarnations. An attempt at Green Lantern was lousy and it bombed. I never thought the day would come that a JLA film would ever materialize. 

Then last year, the successful casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" reinvigorated the dream. She had her own WW solo pic earlier this year and that was a huge critical and box office winner as well.  The momentum was certainly on a roll. Now, even before 2017 ended, the JLA film I longed for is finally a reality.

Continuing from the events of "B v S," Superman died and was buried. Meanwhile, an ancient demon named Steppenwolf attacked Themiscyra to gain possession of a so-called Mother Box that the Amazons had been guarding. He also launched an attack on Atlantis to steal a second Mother Box left to the Atlanteans' care. 

Batman and Wonder Woman convinced meta-humans Barry Allen (Flash), Victor Stone (Cyborg) and Arthur Curry (Aquaman) to join their cause to secure the last Mother Box left to the care of Humans to stop Steppenwolf's intention to unite the three Mother Boxes to destroy the whole world. They soon realized that they needed someone to return to complete their team.

The story line about the villain needing to collect three boxes to complete a grand plan of world destruction is too simple and rehashed. He and his wasp-like minions could have been done with better CGI. However, this film was not really about the villain. He just needed to be powerful enough to get these superheroes together to work for a common goal. I thought all the heroes were given their fair share of the screen time in terms of action, so that is good. There was a healthy sense of humor (even for the Batman), and that was a lot of fun as well.

Ben Affleck actually lightened up his Bruce Wayne and Batman portrayal in this one, and I thought that was okay as he was not annoying at all, unlike most other Affleck characters. Gal Gadot continues her streak with another on-point portrayal of Wonder Woman, especially in her awesome-looking fight scenes. 

The name of Henry Cavill is prominently billed in the opening credits so you know he will not just be fleeting cameo in this one. He is a good choice for Superman, so glad to see him back. However, we could have done without those cringy statements said about his itch and his smell. I admit this whole "Superman comes in at the end to save the whole League" was the one thing I was most afraid of happening here, and they really went there. This "easy" way out was the my one disappointment about this film. 

Ezra Miller's giddy fanboy-portrayal of a young Barry Allen made him very likable and appealing. This younger Flash had more of Wally West's personality than the more sedate Barry I knew in the old comics. His funny lines were a hit with the audience for the most part, even in that charming extra scene of his mid-closing credits. 

Jason Momoa's look and portrayal totally turned around the image of Aquaman of the original comics who had blond hair and an orange and green wetsuit. Even his ability to talk to fish gets ribbed in this film. Loved that scene where he was sitting on the Lasso of Truth. That scene when he surfed down from the sky on the body of a dead enemy, crashed through a building and landed with a cool flip of his hair -- that was pure badass. I don't know why he had to throw a bottle of liquor into the ocean though, I guess he did not know yet at that time that he was supposed to be guardian of the seas. 

I did not really know anything about the Cyborg character until promotions for this film came out. The only android I knew from the old comics was the Red Tornado. This was a character whose origin was connected to the power of the Mother Boxes as well (mentioned but not fully elucidated how his father Silas gained possession of the box). He was only discovering his powers and was still in denial of his state of mortality, so that made for some interesting character development. 

The dark color palette, leathery costumes and the driving rock music are not exactly what I had in mind when I tried to envision a JLA film in my youth. But here it is now so cool and hip. I liked its new execution and direction for future development. It was entertaining and engaging; and that is what films like this are about, not awards. The final extra scene at the very end of the closing credits suggests the beginning formation of a "Legion of Doom" sort of super-villain counter-league. I am definitely looking forward to the next episode. 8/10. 

1 comment: