Justice League

John: As a long-time DC fan, I really wished I could have been excited for the Justice League movie. But the handling of the material by Warner Brothers and Zac Snyder hasn’t been quite great. Nonetheless, the movie is still the first time to see these comic book heroes on the big screen and with the last-minute breath of life from Wonder Woman, I at least hoped to be entertained.

Patty: I, on the other hand, am not as much as a DC fan as John here (I rally for the other team, if you catch my drift) although I have followed the cinema releases of DC Comics for the past few years. They were pretty much hits and misses, more on the missing side. However, the curveball that is Wonder Woman suddenly had me optimistic about the next movies DC has to offer, starting with Justice League.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9-DM9uBtVI]

John: Having had the past couple of days to consider the film, I could say it had its strengths and weaknesses. It was hardly a disappointment, but it wasn’t quite the spectacular smash I think it could have been. Its strong points are in the chemistry and skill of its actors. Gal Gadot has already proven herself. Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill return and deliver far better performances, overall, with great scenes that highlight their characters.

Newcomers to the DCU are Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Flash, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg. Miller, stands out as a loveable Flash showing his youth and inexperience in a strange new world. Momoa’s Aquaman delivers a strength that makes it hard for anyone to make fun of his powers, bringing up front and center his charisma as King of Atlantis. Cyborg, admittedly, is the weaker link among the new trio, and could have used a bit more development to smooth things over.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh9OHTDL8wc]

Patty: At this point in time, Cavill, Affleck, and Gadot have lived up to the mantle of the Big Three. Miller, meanwhile, has to impress upon the audience his own, or maybe better interpretation of the Flash since there is another actor who is currently playing the character (Grant Gustin) in the TV series. If you will ask me, Miller’s Flash is more dynamic and more fun. Being fresh recruits, Momoa and Fisher have a lot to prove to the long-time DC fans, especially Fisher because he is the first actor to be cast in a live adaptation of Cyborg. They did a good job for me, though!

John: Another strength in the film is in its music. DC has consistently been able to pull out powerful and iconic songs to match its heroes and cinematic sequences. The music helps to really anchor the identity and feel of its characters – from the Amazons to Superman. The film has a high degree of mastery in using its soundtrack to build up a great message for the scenes it has on screen.

Patty: Oh, this is one of the things strongest for me in this film. The moment the credits rolled in, and upon seeing the soundtrack part, I had to gush because not only do they have new themes in this movie, but incorporated the older ones (“Is She With You?” is still rockin’). Also, Gary Clark Jr.’s interpretation of the Lennon-McCartney classic Come Together was perfect for the movie. The guitars were more distorted than the original arrangement, which fits because of the action happening in the film, which contributes to its general badassery. Also, it fits in the sense that the theme of the movie is about the Justice League assembling (Justice League, assemble! Jeez, sorry, I can’t help but make the joke).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-swMZ69w9-Q]

John: Finally, it has great action and dramatic sequences. The power and impact of its fight scenes have a certain gravitas and visceral quality which isn’t found as strongly in other films. It also has some moving dramatic scenes which lets us glimpse into the essence of these iconic heroes. These are moments where I could say, “Yes, THAT is what this character is about.”

Unfortunately, as much as I wish I could praise the movie more, it does have several flaws. It suffers from an entirely forgettable villain and a world-shaking threat that gets neutered a little too easily and with too little loss – an ironic thing considering the film universe’s history. While we do expect the Justice League to pull together and save the day, the degree of threat shown by Steppenwolf and the army of Parademons seem a little anemic, particularly towards the second half of the film.

Patty: With what they have shown in the post-credits scene (which I will not divulge for the benefit of those who have not watched yet), the next film/s will probably have the villain/s that will really challenge our heroes. Again, I remain optimistic for the DC cinematic universe.

John: Aside from that, the powerful scenes and enjoyable acting chemistry shown by the cast is, strangely enough also a flaw. It is a flaw because the characterizations as depicted in the movie are such a great contrast to that shown in prior movies. The change in tone is nowhere as obvious as in the humor scenes, which isn’t necessary. To deliver a tone of hope and inspiration, comedy is not required.

Truth told, some of the awkward elements of the story and characters are not so much the fault of the film itself on its own as it is an unfortunate consequence of the sheer gritty and grim dramatic nature of its predecessors. Had the prior films been a few shades less angsty, the shift would not have been so jarring and would not have felt so shoehorned.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_6yBZKj-eo]

Patty: Honestly though, I could feel the Whedon seeping through the Snyder, if you get what I mean. Batman/Bruce Wayne was a bit out-of-character with the humor approach. And, I’d like to repeat the sentence John said: To deliver a tone of hope and inspiration, comedy is not required. Or, if humor really has to be included for characterization’s sake, please spare the others who do not have a comedic tone.

John: Overall, Justice League is enjoyable, but suffers from the complicated past of prior DCU movies. It will take time before WB can clear the air of the cloud it has stirred up. Nonetheless, Justice League certainly does not add any pallor to the DCU’s future. It is a decently grounded movie that can give WB a breather and some more footing as it plans its next move in the DCU.

Patty: In addition, I would like to reiterate my statement from a few paragraphs ago: I remain optimistic for the DCU. With Wonder Woman and Justice League consecutive successes, I can only hope they go uphill from there. Also, we are looking forward now to the sequels, with the hope that they add more people to the League. Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl, anyone?

Great soundtrack
Fit casting
Forced humor
Forgettable villain