Uncollected Thoughts: Justice League


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The first thing is, getting to East Didsbury from Reddish on a Sunday afternoon. That wasn’t as bad as you might think: the 203 was late, naturally, but I had time to buy the paper and more or less get straight onto the 23A. On the other hand, this Cineworld, being newer, bigger, flasher than dear old comfortable Stockport is an arsehole. You can’t buy your tickets from a human being, it’s got to be a machine and mine is fucked up. Still, the one I am led to for a second go, by a human being, coughs up my ticket and doesn’t even ask for proof of age  over my senior person concession.

Having said that, Screen 4’s bigger than anything I’ve recently been at in Stockport, plus it has banked seats. I’m about two-thirds of the way up, in an aisle seat. The background music is Take That (one of Mark Owen’s: I am very well-trained) to be followed by Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’. No disrespect to anyone but the leap in quality is immeasurable.

I’m one of five when I sit down, which is a massive improvement on Monday but still a disappointment for a big budget film on a Sunday afternoon on it’s third day. Half an hour of trailers etc. later (yup, Karen Gillan looks just as good and, hey! a new Ardman/Nick Park: one for 2018 already), we have swelled to an unmanageable 28, the unmanageable one being the two-year-old toddler sat almost directly in front of me.

Oddly, for there is literally nothing here to spark such a recollection save the day of the week, I’m transported back to a Sunday morning a great many years ago, when my Dad took me to the Cartoon Cinema for a non-stop round of Warner Brothers cartoons, all Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. They were on a loop. You came in when you arrived, you left when you recognised when you came in. I had a whale of a time, as you can imagine. What on earth’s brought that back I can’t possibly imagine, but I haven’t found that memory for a very long time.

The film? Oh yes, this is supposed to be about the film, isn’t it? By my tally, this is the fifth time I’ve been to the cinema this year, and they’ve all been films based on comics. Four superheroes, two each DC and Marvel. For the life of me, I don’t know how to respond to this film, nor how to rank it even among this year’s quintet.

It really is strange how much I feel nothing about this film, and I the oldest in the cinema, certainly the only one actually on this planet when Brave & Bold 27 was published, somewhere maybe round the time my Dad took me to the Cartoon Cinema. I’ve waited a lifetime to see this film. But, well, no.

Actually, it started slowly, introducing the cast, one-by-one, with special reference to the newcomers: Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg. It was ponderous to say the least, and in my head i also gad the word ‘portentous’.

But after that, any kind of critical appraisal drained off, and I just sat and watched it. It did not disappoint and it did not enthrall. The performances were decent: no-one stood out as either terribly impressive or terribly awful. It was neither slow-paced nor fast-paced (although the Zack Snyder tradition of ultra-slow motion to show just how clever the CGI stunt is has not merely gotten old, it’s whiskers are completely white).

The story was neither a coherent progression nor a series of disjointed fragments, though it leaned in both directions. It was neither too short nor too long, but that doesn’t mean to imply it was the right length, just that it felt you could have taken scenes out and put other scenes in and the film would have neither suffered nor improved by it.

It was just what it was, a film without any personality whatsoever. I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t hate it, I wasn’t bored by it, I… got nothing from it, not even the sense of something rotten and malodorous to the core that pervaded Batman vs Superman. It was just bland. And it was still better than Batman vs Superman.

There were a number of things in the film that I could comment upon viz-a-viz their relationship to the original source, but I can’t be bothered, except in one case. The villain, Steppenwolf, was taken from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World series’ (there was even a one-off mention of Darkseid, one of the most awesome characters ever created: guys, when you get to the one that brings him in, you gotta be aiming and reaching a galaxy higher than you’ve been doing to date). The film revolved around one of Kirby’s most potent symbols, Mother Box. But it perverted it, reversing its purpose 180 degrees. Don’t do that again.

And so it was. The film ended up not even being ‘Meh!’ or being a waste of time. Stick to TV, DC, when it comes to films, you have no idea.

2 thoughts on “Uncollected Thoughts: Justice League

  1. I did a Sunday twilight showing and similarly, wasn’t quite what Thor was two weeks back. And likewise, I got a family with two or three young kids, that kept talking. I’ll never damper super hero enthusiasm, but please don’t talk during a movie.

    I found it enjoying and taking Suicide Squad’s place as the most entertaining movie to watch. But quality wise, I’d say it’s average, the middle 3 of the 5 DCEU films. The complaints about DCEU are trying to be rectified, too long, too dark, but I think the mandate worked to the disadvantage. This movie ironically warranted more time, as the beginning felt disjointed. I’ll still have to disagree and say BvS is the better film and tops of DCs…

    And Joss Whedon’s influence was easily seen with the more Marvelesque and Wheedonisms. I loved the tonal change as an opposite of Batman v Superman and the birth of hope, but felt that it should have been more gradual build up. A little too much humor and hope too soon..

    Other Things I didn’t like- The literal DCEU film tone on screen is still to dark. Maybe it’s Warner film thing, but I swear Nolan’s trilogy and Superman Returns were lighter hues.
    -Superman’s over power vs Steppenwolf’s under power. However you want to look at it. Once he arrived it was game over. If Supes can do it on own, what’s the point of a League?
    -And depending on source and version, Flash seemed woefully under powered utilized as well. Anything near light speed, he could reach Russia 4-5 times in a second…

    Things I liked- Most of the trailer shots, weren’t in the movie, so for once the trailers didn’t give much away. I was waiting for some of them, but love being surprised more.
    – Hope. The giddiness I felt at times, illustrated the theme of the movie and the hope that this is a turning of the corner for DC. Even though Box Office returns weren’t promising and DC’s plans still seem murky at best after Aquaman next year.
    – The Post Credits. I enjoyed both and they added something or set up future events Marvel’s have become perfunctory or lazy( using a scene from upcoming film), instead of adding something.

  2. To be honest, a week later I can barely remember it, so on that score it’s clearly a failure for me. I still have no real idea how to score it among the DCEU films because I haven’t yet been impressed enough by any of them, and we will have to disagree over BvS, which I regard as the worst experience I have ever had in the cinema. Ever.

    Superman has always been a bone of contention over his power vs that of the rest of the League, and I speak as one whose first exposure to the JLA was issue 34. In this film, he’s dead for 90% of it so the League exists because he doesn’t. It’s the sequel, in which everyone starts on an equal footing, where we’ll start to see how they handle it.

    Flash didn’t get off the ground for me, and I still prefer the tv version. Ezra Miller looked far less convincing or coordinated running than does Grant Gustin. The same thing goes about his speed: properly handled, who needs the rest of the League?

    As for the trailers, I saw none of them. I rigorously avoid spoilers wherever I can. I assume whatever was in them will go into Deleted Scenes on the DVD, but I can’t see myself ever buying it.

    No, I think I have to sum this one up as I said above: Meh.

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