Dateline v. Justice League

Justice League (2017)

Rated PG-13: For Violence

Running Time: 120 minutes (2 hours)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on November 17, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by DC Films, RatPac Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films, and Warner Bros. Pictures

"Superman" Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

"Batman" Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

"Wonder Woman" Created by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter

"Justice League" Created by Gardner Fox

Writers: Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, and Joss Whedon

Director: Zack Snyder

  • Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman
  • Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman
  • Amy Adams as Lois Lane
  • Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
  • Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash
  • Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman
  • Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg
  • Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
  • Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf

"You can't save the world alone!" The long-awaited team-up of all of your favorite DC superheroes is here! Warner Bros. has been teasing this movie ever since Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released. Does it live up to our expectations of it being a complete game-changer?

The movie court is now in session! Many critics, and even potentially post-production director Joss Whedon, have accused the defendant, the film, of being a somewhat bad flick for various reasons. With our right hands up high, we will judge this piece of cinema without bias. So help us God. Your judges at Dateline Movies are back with another review. This is the case of Dateline v. Justice League!

Also, spoiler alert! Since this movie is out now, you might want to remove your eyes for awhile. I would recommend through CGI, just like how Henry Cavill got his mustache removed for the making of this flick.

What is the movie about?

With the world lacking a Superman, played by Cavill (Red Riding Hood), to keep criminal activities at bay, a threat from the far reaches of space arrives and takes advantage of the situation, to take three cosmic objects of power. He is Steppenwolf, played by Hinds (There Will Be Blood), and he brings with him the reign of Apokolips!

Batman, played by Affleck (Live By Night), unites four other metahumans located all across the globe, hiding from the rest of society. The Amazon warrior Wonder Woman, played by Gadot (The Fast and the Furious Franchise). The Scarlet Speedster known as The Flash, played by Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). The newly-enhanced and all-knowing Cyborg, played by Fisher in his first major movie role. And the Atlantean prince Aquaman, played by Momoa (Game of Thrones).

Together, with the help of the love of Superman's life, Lois Lane, played by Adams (Arrival) and batman's trusted aide and confidante Alfred Pennyworth, played by Irons (Assassin's Creed), they save the world from the threat of Steppenwolf, and bring hope back to Earth!

What we think of the movie?

The Defense:
  • It is actually fun and re-watchable. (An improvement, at least)
Yes, you read that right. A DCEU movie is actually "fun", just like Wonder Woman. It does offer a lot of humorous moments, including The Flash and Batman's exchange about their superpowers, with Batman stating that his power is being rich. It also shows a lot of other corny non-sense that come of as awkward than witty, such as The Flash's comments on the word "brunch" in his race with Superman, in the mid-credits scene. And obviously, there is much more bright colors than your average Christopher Nolan-esque superhero film. But that does not mean that having gags and color will automatically mean "watchable". The film is able to recapture some of the emotional balance from Wonder Woman, knowing when to be funny and hopeful, while also knowing when to be serious and a little bleak. Also, unlike Suicide Squad, almost most of the jokes are actually funny.

  • The cast is almost flawless, and they have an awesome team dynamic!
One of my frequent complaints with the DCEU is that much of the screenplays used prevent the cast from completely delivering the essential versions of the character. This film is no different, but what makes it slightly standout is that the main cast actually gets to make their roles a little memorable. Ezra Miller is the acting highlight for his performance as a comic-inaccurate yet charming Flash. Jason Momoa channels his rowdy yet charismatic persona, and successfully makes Aquaman far from a butt of a lot of sea-centric jokes. Newcomer Ray Fisher makes Cyborg a sympathetic character that takes cues from the best emotionally torn superheroes. And Henry Cavill finally gets to bring the more hopeful version of Superman that we have all been waiting for, as he now smiles, and abstains from being moody. (So I guess dying makes Superman happy?) Gal Gadot continues to inspire as Wonder Woman, and Ben Affleck, although not as strong as he performed in Batman v. Superman, adds some level of depth to the famous dark detective. And together, we have a decent big screen iteration of the Justice League.

  • The movie opens-up a lot of franchise possibilities.
If there is one sin that almost none of the other franchises can resist, then it would have to be the sin of "belated world-building". Both Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad have done this, with both even inserting the current members of the Justice League, regardless of how much it does not fit the context whatsoever. Both Man of Steel and Wonder Woman were able to stand on their own respective two feet, by not making unnecessary set-ups. Justice League is in the former category. However, as plenty as the Easter eggs might be, and how annoying some of them can be, the movie remains to be entertaining from beginning to end. I enjoy how the film teases a large mythical mythology in the making, which spans all across time, and also a war between Atlanteans and Amazons, the coming of the New Gods, and ... hey, are those Green Lanterns? I cannot wait for what else the DCEU has in store.

Awesome post-credits teaser by the way. I am not going to spoil it here, but let us just say that the villains are going to have "a league of their own". A little early for that, is it not?

  • The one, the only Danny Elfman delivers fittingly memorable scores.
I am just going to be brief and say that Danny Elfman, who also scored for Tim Burton's original Batman movies, and other Marvel properties such as Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, and Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, did a fine job in scoring for Justice League. While it lacks the opera-like grandiose nature of Hans Zimmer's work in the first two DCEU movies, Elfman nevertheless made sure that we will get to receive mighty tunes from him, and we surely did.

Additionally, I would like to commend the use of the songs "Everybody Knows", a cover by Sigrid, and "Come Together", a cover by Gark Clark Jr., and Junie XL. For Everybody Knows, the surprisingly somber melody initially sets-up a moody atmosphere, and for awhile, it captures the grave reality that the world is losing hope now that Superman is gone. This film's version of Come Together also deserves merits for its fittingly anthem-like and trailer appropriate style.

  • While mostly generic, the movie offers some great action.
The not-so secret ingredient in making a fun movie is the ability to make good and eye-popping action sequences. Justice League has some of them, even if it takes more than a little too much notes from the many other superhero movies out there. Two of the best include Wonder Woman's battle against Game of Thrones' Roose Bolton, Michael McElhatton (The Foreigner), who is orchestrating a hostage situation, and the rest of the Justice League's eventual battle against a confused and disoriented, rejuvenated Superman. The former just showed how cool Wonder Woman really is by deflecting bullets at unspeakable speed, and the latter shows the team finally developing a sense of unity, all the while coming into terms with their own respective weaknesses, while The Flash hilariously comes to terms with the realization that Superman  can catch-up to his speed. The final battle is just your average alien versus heroes beat 'em up, but its still entertaining in its own right.


The Prosecution:
  • Rushed plot points are less likely to excite you for future movies, and are more likely to irritate you.
Justice League is packed to the brim with subplots that are, for reasons clearly involving a potential spin-off trilogy, included here, and you can bet that it will absolutely have no payoff as the credits start crawling. We did mention awhile ago that Justice League opened-up a lot of intriguing franchise directions, pertaining to the eventual debut of the Green Lantern Corps and the New Gods. We also did mention that some of them pretty much derails the movie.

While The Flash is new to the franchise, at least his story was established properly. Cyborg, and especially Aquaman, on the other hand, have almost nothing going on. We are teased frequently that Cyborg might be undergoing a sinister transformation, but that is never brought-up again. Aquaman went to Atlantis to fight Steppenwolf, only to have arguably the most unnecessary tease yet, when Aquaman talks to Mera, played by Amber Heard (The Rum Diary), about his exile. It was also confusing. Me and Dad had to ask Mom about what the heck is going on during that scene, and while we did understand it, it makes little sense in the context of the story.

Also, why is it that the world is suddenly missing Superman, even after the majority of them clearly expressed their distrust to the hero?

  • A lot of the characters are forgettable and inaccurate to the source material.
Aside from the obviously rushed plot points, Justice League has a lot of characters to develop, and not only do they have to flesh-out the newcomers, they have to expand further on the main characters that none of the previous installments have given justice. (How ironic) 

We are already familiar with Batman and Wonder Woman, ever since their cinematic debuts, but neither of them are particularly interesting here. There is this unresolved subplot that also does not get resolved of Wonder Woman being made the official leader, but that is just about it for her here. Batman is on a redemption crusade, but he feels more like a jaded superhero than one that is determined. Aquaman might have a brash personality, and Cyborg might be battling with his human and machine sides, but that is about it for the both of them. The Flash is also nothing like the Barry Allen incarnation, which I discovered from other Internet users, and sometimes, he just acts like a forced comic relief.

And Steppenwolf? His just nothing more than your run of the mill Loki rip-off, from the generic horned helmet, to the generic alien army, to the generic cube-shaped plot device, to be used for a generic world-dominating plan. I like his voice though, but there is nothing else beyond that. He is the least interesting among all of the characters, and my least favorite superhero movie villain, so far.

The supporting cast members are also wasted here, including Lois Lane, who has not developed from being a romantic interest ever since her debut, and Alfred Pennyworth, who is just kind of there to handle computer duty, sadly.  None of them are made important as they are in the comics. Also, what is the point of adding J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as James Gordon here anyway? You know you can just remove him from the movie, and nothing will change, right?
  • The sins of the past heavily affect the overall movie viewing experience.
The ghosts of failure's past haunts the Justice League. A lot of its more serious moments are almost impossible to be taken seriously due to what had transpired before, especially if you remember the events of Batman v. Superman. Superman's reunion with Lois, and Martha Kent, played by Diane Lane (Trumbo), is supposed to be heartwarming, but from what we have seen from Man of Steel, there is nothing to care about their characters. The movie, at its core, is about Batman trying to redeem himself for his past mistakes, but when you think about it, it is all about a man suddenly becoming best friends with someone who has a mother, who has the same name as his own. 

And look, I get it. You guys are trying to right the wrongs of the movies before, and the best solution is to lighten things up. But I honestly cannot help but feel a little awkward at the film's sudden comedic tone. I am asking for a much more fun movie, but the movie could still take a darker route without sacrificing what I feel makes the DCEU fresh and interesting: its more mature approach. The X-Men Film Series has had its share of ups and downs, and they still maintained a darker and realistic atmosphere all throughout their central films. Deadpool might be comedic, but come on, the difference in tone made sense for the character. Justice League is not like Deadpool.

We can say that Justice League is a victim of past sins, or something made at the wrong time.

  • The unpolished CGI, plus the number of missing scenes, show an unsteady post-production stage.
Finally, we get to the most noticeable flaw in all of the movie. A flaw that is so annoying, you do not even have to be a story-focused movie reviewer for you to be annoyed. The clearly rushed CGI. Not only that, the cutting-out of essential scenes, especially the ones that feature the characters being developed further will make you frustrated a tad bit.

Almost the entire movie is clearly shot in front of a green screen. The backgrounds look like as if they were copied and pasted from Google Images. You can take a look at the Superman battle, and if you look at the Metropolis landscape closely, everything is blurry. The Amazons battle with Steppenwolf might be cool, but a lot of it was CGI-ridden. If you pay close attention, it is like Amber Heard holding her breath underwater while fighting Steppenwolf in Atlantis. Everything in the final battle is decent and all, but let us face it, the CGI is clunky. And let us not forget the one bit that every other blogging site has talked about" Henry Cavill's CGI shave. I do not need to elaborate further on that. Just look at the image above, and tell me that it is not awful. Go on. Look at it. Seriously Paramount Studios, he can grow it back hopefully fast enough for Mission: Impossible 6.

Also, once again, Warner Bros. apparently does not know when to stop meddling, as there are still a lot of key scene removed. I find Cyborg the most lackluster of the entire Justice League, but the scenes featuring his pre-superhero days might have done him a great deal of development, and not just a somewhat emotionless machine.

Now I know why people are asking for a Zack Snyder cut of this film. If ever they are going to release another extended edition, it just shows that Warner Bros.'s modus operandi is used until today. I guess Joss Whedon gave it his best shot, and if the studio is again to blame, I can see why he might be siding with the critics here, especially since he had a rough time with Marvel recently.

The Ruling: Not Guilty!

While Justice League has a long list of glaring setbacks, including a forgettable villain, ugly CGI, and unresolved subplots, it remains as a surprisingly enjoyable superhero team-up with just enough heart to keep you entertained!

And with that, movie court is adjourned! Justice League is still in theaters, so do catch the movie at a cinema near you! Also, do you want to catch-up on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the film is just too confusing for you? The YouTube channel HISHE has you covered, with their dubbed recap. So before you see Justice League, revisit that film, in a much more satirical and comedic light. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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