Directed by Zack Snyder (2017)
by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
[Note: spoilers ahead!]
From the inception of this entire universe, Zack Attack has taken us along on his visually devoid cinematic ride telling us half-baked tales about characters that he apparently despises. For this latest installment, Joss Whedon may have stepped in, added some “jokes,” fired that “composer” guy (the electric guitar riff is gone, my ears thank you) butttttt when all is said and done, there are no surprises here. Justice League is exactly what we were all expecting…slop.
The story opens with Batman (Ben Affleck) taking out a criminal that he quickly loses interest in, almost as quickly as we lose interest in the entire story. There are human-sized bugs loose in Gotham and Batsy isn’t having it. With the bug sighting, Batman rushes off to his bat phone and of course, calls up Wonder Woman - the only superhero who seems to have their shit together and can get stuff done. From here, we are taken on a meandering journey as they build their team of “warriors,” Justice League. The story moves at a snail’s pace. Each character must be introduced. Each character must be thoroughly explained. As we are meeting and greeting our ragtag group of superheroes the story is being intercut with the status of our villain, Steppenwolf, and his boxes.
The appropriate nomenclature being: mother boxes. These boxes are the heart of the story. Three of them to be exact. Hidden, secured, and locked away…until this extremely tall, hideous piece of CGI (circa 1990) with horns shows up and decides he must collect them. He needs the boxes so that he can get even taller and in turn grow extremely powerful, make us all bow to him, profess our love, and then destroy the world. Sigh. This guy obviously has no idea we are living in this world already: doom and gloom brought to you by Zack Attack.
The story would have benefited from Wonder Woman having more of a focal point. She is an actual likeable character and it would have been awesome to see her as the leader of the group. Instead, we are stuck with Batman; an established A-S-S with a troubled past filled with feverishly crazy nightmares with Nazi overtones. The guy is absolute batshit: in the previous flick we saw him kill another superhero and in this movie, he spends practically two hours just wanting to quit his job. Before I was introduced to Zack Attack’s DC Universe, Batman always seemed to me like a standup guy, especially the way in which he is portrayed in Batman: The Animated Series. In Zack’s version, I can’t stand Batman. He is the absolute worst. What does he bring to the table? When prompted by The Flash about what his superpower is, Batman smugly responds: “I’m rich.” It is not a surprise that Batman leverages Wonder Woman to do much of his bidding to form the alliance that will inevitably take on Steppenwolf. It is also not a shock to see Batman call upon one of his biggest foes (Superman), only to tell him that he never really disliked him and killing him was just a big “oopsie."
Overall, there was some improvement to the characters and the way in which they carried themselves. However, as expected, we are shown the story through Zack’s eyes. Take the Amazons, for example. In Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman this scenery was lush, bright, colorful. The Amazons were strong and wearing actual battle uniforms. In the Zack version, we are transported to a dismal land with half-naked ladies and gratuitous cinematography that includes up-skirt camera angles.
The Flash is probably the most entertaining character of the bunch and an appreciated addition. I would have liked to have seen this character have even more fun. Flash explains that he is a black hole for snacks and I think it would have been amazing for him to order a bunch of pizzas with Batman’s Amex. Unfortunately, Zack Attack seems to have this habit of creating this feeling that all the characters within this universe, good or bad, appear to have a stick up their ass. Everyone is wooden and extremely serious. There is no time for fun and it doesn’t exist. No fun, ever.
Aquaman did add some entertaining moments, though. The studio was clearly trying to make us fall head over heels for this guy. You sensed their fear and self-doubt: should we have spent piles of cash on an epic that primarily takes place under water about a character that no one ever gave two shits about? Well, Hollywood Operation “Everyone Love Aquaman” was completed, old sport. Aquaman is great…but, you really didn’t need to try so hard. Jason Momoa clearly was meant to play this role: he has the look, the swagger, and the delivery. He pretty much steals every scene he is in and physically steals things from Batman! I wish we could have seen this guy stealing more things. A klepto Aquaman would have been the best!
Joking aside, Cyborg was an interesting character, too, and I would have liked to have known more about him and his background. I feel the writers tried very hard to give us a glimpse inside each one of these characters.
The problem is there are so many characters and storylines that the movie often felt like an incoherent mess. You spend a lot of the film being jostled from one story to the next, but everything seems rushed and lacks connectivity. So much so that when we get to the part of reviving the Superman, you just kind of shrug your shoulders and go along with it, because this is the world we are living in: A Zack world. A world that is being attacked by a really tall dude that could have been removed from the script completely. Just let the boxes do the talking. A world that finally gets Superman right, but only uses him for a mere couple minutes. We spend more time learning the latest happenings in Metropolis than we spend with Superman. Does anyone actually care what Lois and her mother-in-law have been up to?
When the final showdown with Steppenwolf came to a head, I felt embarrassed for whoever thought this was passable filmmaking. By the end of this film shoot, after the superheroes finished counting their coins, I am sure several of them wished they could have gotten it easy like Kevin Costner (Superman’s daddy) did. Just a CGI photograph being clutched by dead Superman in a coffin.