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Justice League – [4k Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Download] 
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Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
As Gotham City’s greatest vigilante, Batman has fought single-handedly for years in relentless pursuit of justice. Now, after witnessing Superman’s ultimate sacrifice for mankind, Bruce Wayne’s restored faith in humanity compels him to bring together a team of the greatest Super Heroes in order to save the world.
Once the world’s most powerful and iconic Super Hero, Superman personified a higher calling to truth and justice and a deep respect for all humanity. The absence of this fallen idol, whose sacrifice stunned the world, inspires the formation of the Justice League.
Wonder Woman/Diana Prince
The world’s first and foremost female Super Hero, Wonder Woman embodies the unrivalled force and grace of a born warrior with the genuine compassion of a true humanitarian. The first to join Bruce Wayne’s team, Diana’s natural confidence and unmistakable intelligence make her an indispensable ally.
Half human, half Atlantean, Arthur Curry is an outsider who does not feel at home on the Earth’s surface or at sea. That is, until the world is threatened and he joins Batman’s newly assembled team of heroes.
The Flash/Barry Allen
Barry Allen is an excessively energetic student attending Central City College, where he studies criminal justice with the hope of one day freeing his incarcerated father. More than eager to team up with crime fighting icon Batman, Barry’s remarkably quick wit is surpassed only by his ability to move at hyper-speed.
Part man, part machine, Victor Stone is a former star athlete at Gotham City University. After a horrific car accident nearly cost him his life, he was saved when his father, scientist Silas Stone, used an Apokoliptian Mother Box to reconstruct his body. In the process, Silas turned Victor into a human computer, organic with biomechatronic body parts. In other words, a Cyborg.
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I’d also like to cover some aspects of the film that have been politicised over the first 48 hours of release. I think the debates have gotten out of hand. There’s a danger that the film may be prejudged by these ‘issues’. There is certainly something present in the film that seems to be angering many professional critics, although the YouTube/social media critics and audience reviews treat the film far more favourably. This could make for an interesting discussion as to why. It’s as if people are seeing two completely different films. And maybe they are. The overly harsh 41% score on RT from 270 reviews seems disconnected from the 81% score from 115,000 cinema-goers on the same site.
I knew the RT score was plummeting while I watched it. I didn’t know what to expect. The film opens on a brief retrospective of Supes being filmed by kids, and this is the bit where you can see something strange on Henry Cavill’s upper lip - occasionally, superficially - in under 1 min of footage. And it’s slightly out of focus. That’s it, save for the odd moment. That’s what many critics have been carping about. Put it this way - if you didn’t know about the moustache issue, you probably wouldn’t even notice it. He’s fine in the rest of the film.
The opening scene is pure, vintage Batman - the whole “roof-fishing” idea is classic and the scene manages to establish the rise of a new danger and connect it to Superman’s death. Backed by the haunting strains of Danny Elfman’s 1989 Batman theme, it’s a gift to Batfans.
The credit sequence focuses on the inhumanity and hopelessness of a world without Superman, although it is certainly our own world. Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows (covered by Sigrid) plays over an opening montage, where we see people fighting, falling prey to greed and fear, and pulling each other apart, in direct contrast to the end credits song, ‘Come Together’. First contact with an alien species almost destroyed the planet, but now that the planet’s protector is dead, people know that their world is wide open to attacks from the cosmos...
There’s an early scene on Themyscira where the Amazons battle villain Steppenwolf for the mother box. Many have taken exception to Amazons daring to show their midriffs. Many have seen this as a betrayal of WWs feminist spirit and the emancipated ideals of the Amazon culture. Well, the six guardians of the citadel that houses the mother box are all strong, muscular women and their bare midriffs display their strength, more decorative than functional. Those six lockdown the citadel and the battle moves outside. I counted about five more Amazon warriors with bare midriffs by the end of battle. So, just into double figures. Out of hundreds of fully-armoured warriors. I think what happened is that a few excitable groups saw that photo of the citadel guards posing next to the bat-mobile, and instantly judged the ‘bare midriff, tousled hair, dramatic make-up’ as being regressive and sexist. All taken out of context. The amazons don’t do anything for the gratification of men, whom they have ignored for millennia. They don’t bare their midriffs to sexualise themselves. They do it because abs are fearsome, and invaders should beware. And they won the right to dress any damn way they want when they overthrew their masters thousands of years previously.
There’s a nice moment in the flashback battle between Steppenwolf’s armies and the Amazon/Human/Atlantean forces. We see an alien Green Lantern entering the fray, to be despatched by Steppenwolf. When Green Lanterns die, their power rings zip off to find the nearest worthy contender, a being immune to fear. It’s interesting to see the ring bypassing Steppenwolf and zipping away. It certainly didn’t see Steppenwolf as free from fear - and this plot point is brought home at Steppenwolf’s end.
All in all, I just surrendered to the experience of the movie and was well rewarded. As a 51-year old pop-culture nerd, having loved these characters from childhood, I felt joy during most of it because I’d never seen these heroes interact before in live action - and so endearingly. All the characters have great moments with the DC trinity, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman as my personal stand-outs.
Ray Fisher made an excellent Cyborg and brought a sympathetic gravitas to the role - judging well the tone needed for such a tough part. His portrayal of a man whose humanity risks being swept away by alien AI is great. I hope we see him again. Ezra Miller, great as a humorous Flash, had some touching moments with his father. He is young and callow, a superhero at the very beginning of his career - understandably terrified of going into battle. Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman once again, exploring a natural and effortless charisma and super-stardom. Ben Affleck portrays a more vulnerable Batman this time, one who feels a little out of place but will do whatever it takes to get the job done - he is mindful of his mortality and trying to find his role in a new world of gods and monsters. Alfred tells him: “I don’t recognise this world anymore”. Bruce doesn’t either, but he is open to change and is setting out to do whatever it takes to save it. He risks his life directly several times in the film. I think this is the most faithful - and unashamed - portrayal of the Dark Knight as he appears in the comic books since Batman Returns. Here is Batman as part of a team, surrounded by otherworldy enemies, bringing his entire arsenal and resources to bear. Terrific.
Jason Momoa has to get a special shout-out as Aquaman. He was a wonderful surprise, given the very little he had to do. I wish we’d seen more of him in his element. He plays a lovable, boozy brawler still coming to terms with his birthright as the king of Atlantis. He’s no musclebound thug. He is honourable, serious-minded and bitingly intelligent. We also get the barest taste of Atlantis, and we witness his first meeting with his future wife, Mera, played here by Amber Heard. Roll on the James Wan-directed Aquaman for Dec 2018.
Diane Lane and Amy Adams have small parts in the Superman story arc, really only there to move the plot onwards - and they do well in pretty thankless roles. I hope we see a lot more of them in the next Superman film - and there had better be one. In this film, Henry Cavill finally relaxes into the part of Superman as a friend (the essence of Reeve’s charactisation) - an affable, disarming charmer with a touch of sun-kissed Kansas corn. I want to see more of him.
For me, Superman’s resurrection is the centrepiece of the film, with a bewildered, amnesiac Clark turning on the others after an accidental show of force by Cyborg. Batman essentially recreates a Lazarus Pit (and whoever is resurrected in these pits becomes insane for a while) in the Kryptonian ship, using the mother box and the speed force. Clark’s body is disinterred in Burke and Hare fashion (I wish the writers had found another, more respectful solution) and Martha and Lois are mercifully excluded.
There’s a beautiful little moment when Aquaman puts Clark’s body into the Kryptonian regeneration matrix. The photo of Clark’s father, Jonathan Kent, falls from Clark’s dead hands and we see it sink into the water. It evokes the feeling that Clark and Jonathan were united in death, but now Clark must leave his father and come back into the world that needs him. From this moment onwards, Clark has the chance to put aside his guilt and issues regarding his father (allowing him to die) and starts living on his own terms. He will live for himself and embrace his destiny from now on. And the photo of his father sinks beneath the waters, out of sight, but never forgotten...
I think this second act - the resurrection of Superman - includes some of the most powerful moments in comic-film history. This is where the Justice League is finally forged, in this stunning and sometimes horrifying skirmish set against the breaking dawn (hi symbolism) in Metropolis. We get a salutary lesson here in how powerful Superman actually is - and how vital he is as the powerhouse of the League. Flash speeding past Superman to flank him during the fight, only for Superman to actually notice him and react at the same speed, was utterly brilliant. I even felt a little frightened of Superman at that point, who felt like a threat far more dangerous than Steppenwolf - and as he swings at the hapless Barry, it’s clear every punch could kill him - and Clark doesn’t care. (They make up in one of the post-credit sequences, breathing colourful life into a classic Flash/Superman tradition.)
This is followed by Batman versus Superman, in a scene that manages to top Batman V. Superman. This is how the fight between the two should have gone - Batman, helpless as a child, is nothing without his Kryptonite. Superman’s words to him, “You won’t let me live, you won’t let me die,” are chilling. But being Batman, he has a plan B and disarms his opponent by appealing to his humanity. The ‘big gun’ turns out to be love, of which Wonder Woman would certainly approve.
It’s interesting to note that Superman’s costume is brightly coloured in this film, as distinct from its darker hues in the past film. I’m just rationalising here, but perhaps the material reacts to Clark’s emotions and state of mind, being naturally darker in his early days of self-doubt, guilt, frustration and inexperience. But now, after his rebirth, Clark seems accepting and confident - and perhaps finally free of the past. Could it be that by dying, he has paid the karmic debt of killing Zod that had weighed on him? He must have experienced great remorse at having to kill the only other surviving Kryptonian. This being the DC Universe, there are certainly astral planes and entities in existence, and perhaps Clark had finally been reunited with Jonathan Kent, Jor-El and Lara in the hereafter. No surprise that he was furious and confused about being torn from them and flung back into the physical world!
I do wish that the Kryptonian matrix had woven that classic black regeneration suit on his rebirth, the one with the silver ‘S’ as depicted iconically in the 1990’ ‘Death of Superman’ comics arc. To see Supes dressed like that, taking on the League would have been great. But that’s just a little niggle. Apparently, Snyder had shot footage of the black suit, but it didn’t survive the reshoots.
Gadot is a masterful presence in this film, a natural superstar and a winning presence - and it’s no wonder Bruce Wayne turns the leadership of the league over to her. The mythological texture is apparent, as - echoed by Diana’s mention of the ‘age of heroes’ - Apollo/Superman (the solar hero, who enters the underworld at the end of the year and is reborn in the spring) is brought back to life by Hades/Batman, Artemis/Diana, Poseidon/Aquaman, Hermes/Flash and Prometheus/Cyborg (who uses the technology of the gods). Snyder began the mythic overtones to the Superman arc in Man of Steel, culminating in the climax of BvS that evokes the legend of King Arthur and Excalibur (mirrored in the Thomas and Martha Wayne scene at the start of BvS) where Superman becomes the once and future king who will one day return to defend the land.
(Worth taking a moment to realise that Superman, on killing Doomsday in BvS, really did save the world. Doomsday’s newborn body was able to use any energy to strengthen itself and was unkillable even at its weakest. But it was only active during the night and its Kryptonian cells weren’t charged by sunlight. And someone, somewhere has its body...)
The League spends the film fighting Steppenwolf to no lasting success, only for Superman to turn up in the final battle and despatch him easily. This is true to the character, as Superman has fought cosmic-level opponents and Steppenwolf turns out to be just a jumped-up dictator who wants to get back with his family. The final battle is fun and makes the point that for the newly-united League, Steppenwolf is no challenge at all. (Keep a look out for the mother boxes when they are being united by Steppenwolf - they are coloured yellow/gold, red and blue. Familiar colours? Maybe Darkseid already has hidden designs on the Man of Steel. Or could it be Diana?...)
A major criticism with this film is that Steppenwolf is an ineffective villain. And he is. But that is exactly the point. Steppenwolf failed and lost the mother boxes thousands of years ago and was exiled by Darkseid from Apokolips. He is an exile who, covertly with a small force, is collecting mother boxes to enslave the Earth and offer it as a gift to his nephew Darkseid, hoping to win favour and return to Apokolips. The League save the world - again, covertly - from this most Trumpian of supervillains in a superheroic black operation coordinated by Batman. While this story deals with a threat to the world, it is not apocalyptic. No-one else on the planet is aware of the danger, or even affected by the invasion - not even the authorities it seems. Lois Lane writes a piece at the end on the renewal of hope in the union of these heroes, so we can assume they’ve made themselves known. In some cases, this film has far more in common with the premise of Suicide Squad than The Avengers. I’m waiting to see how an in-plain-sight Wonder Woman can protect her secret identity, and Clark manages to explain his funeral to his colleagues at the planet!
Some people were disappointed that the Knightmare sequence in BvS was not addressed in Justice League. However, this sequence is still a possibility, as it showed an apocalyptic scenario with the Earth under the rule of Darkseid, with Superman as his general - Steppenwolf’s replacement. This story could still take place in the relatively distant future, with Superman having lost Lois and possibly influenced by Darkseid as he was resurrected with a mother box.
In comparing Justice League to The Avengers, as many are naturally doing, we must be aware that The Avengers was a season finale (Phase 1) - a grand culmination/climax of several solo movies, while Justice League is the third act of a season premiere, setting up the DC Universe. We are introduced to much here - mother boxes, parademons, the existence of the new gods and Darkseid etc, and Superman’s journey of his first trilogy ends - and begins again. The DC Trinity is truly established, along with the first League mainstays and the Hall of Justice is opening for business, emerging from the ashes of Batman’s past. The second post-credits sequence is a delicious set-up for the next JL film and promises a great deal. I want the sequel right now!
This film is just fine, for heaven’s sake! It’s certainly flawed with several issues, but it’s nowhere near the irredeemable mess that half the critics think of it. It’s a damn decent comic book movie and if this were 2007, I’m convinced it would have received far better reviews. But we’ve been spoilt by the genre over the past decade and perhaps there’s been a little oversaturation as well. Ignore the sometimes rushed CGI, the several abrupt edits and a cartoonish villain. At the end of my first viewing, there were some 10 year olds air-guitaring in the aisles to “Come Together” and groups of young people arguing about who the best character was, with many being blown away with the post-credits reveal.
My friends and I had big grins on leaving the cinema, wondering what the hell the critics had missed in it. I took my 9-year old to see it on my second time, who is nuts about superheroes. It blew her away, and she demanded that we go see it again. Which I was happy to do. DC films seem to have taken a small, vital first step in a better direction.
If the spirit of this film could be summed by one word, it would be “Family”.
See it, join the League - and see if you can find the hope.
(Finally, I do hope that an extended cut is made available for home release as the film could do with some breathing space and more character interaction, reportedly being harshly doctored by the Warner Bros CEO down to under 120 mins.)
UPDATE 03/02/18 - as time has gone on, it’s become fairly clear that Warner never really had any faith in its film. Reports have it that it was hacked together piecemeal, then gutted into its final form. We’ll probably never see a Snyder cut as that footage remains unfinished and Warner will never spend the millions to complete his vision. Perhaps it’s for a future generation to put the definitive version together from leaked footage and deleted scenes but only time will tell. There are two new Superman scenes on the home release that amount to under 2 mins, but that’s it. I’m certain there’s more Whedon footage out there, lost in post-production.
Then there’s the issue of the flawed marketing campaign that never factored in Superman. At the climax of Batman v Superman, many filmgoers were shocked by Superman’s sudden death. Bear in mind that most filmgoers had no idea about the Death of Superman story arc, or how Doomsday factored into it. They saw a beloved character grimly take the weight of the world on his shoulders, only to be tortured by Batman, almost lose his mother, then give his life in battle. It obviously alienated a lot of people who simply thought he was dead for good and didn’t want to revisit that experience. We fans knew he’d be back, but most cinemagoers didn’t. Instead of leading the marketing campaign by teasing his return, they simply didn’t mention him. And filmgoers who perhaps watched the Justice League cartoons as children, or with their children, just couldn’t be bothered with a Justice League without Supes, for heaven’s sake. We got a snippet of a dream sequence with Clark in the final trailer - and that was it (Snyder footage that never made it into the theatrical release). And a possible encounter with Alfred (cut from the film). Yes, they put his symbol in the posters, but nobody was really paying attention. And as soon as the film was released to lukewarm box office, Warner realised their mistake and stuck him back in the marketing material, hoping to get a box office boost. Too little, far, far too late. At least he’s back on the home release cases...
So, we have an object lesson in mismanagement and bad marketing of a $300 million property. The critics pounded it. The studio obviously hated it. The execs cut it down to 2 hours to get maximum screenings. No wonder Ben Affleck seemed fed up. But here’s the thing - despite everything it had against it, a lot of filmgoers really liked it. And I think this is a film that will endure in people’s minds because it’s flawed and incomplete, and film fans just love restoring unfinished art. We’ll see a dozen fan-edits; petitions to WB to release lost footage; script drafts leaked; stories from the production - how far did Snyder get in filming? What were Whedon’s rewrites? Why did WB get Danny Elfman to re-compose the OST, replacing Hans Zimmer’s work? Does that soundtrack exist? Why the appalling design of Steppenwolf? What was the real story behind Moustachegate? People will love pulling these stories apart, and the film’s troubled background, its panning by critics and defense by filmgoers is the stuff that cult film is made of. WB could find that they have a sleeper hit on their hands, albeit not one that’s going to net a lot of money of course.
So, Ben Affleck has one more Batman appearance on his contract and it’ll probably be a cameo in Suicide Squad 2 or something. I’d love him to pick himself up, brush himself down and launch into The Batman. Henry Cavill has one more Superman on contract. I really hope we get an epic Superman solo, but it will probably be Justice League 2 a few years away. Gal Gadot is steaming ahead with Wonder Woman 2. Jason Momoa is coming up in Aquaman at the end of the year and I’m really looking forward to it - I loved Momoa’s take on the character, Imhave faith in James Wan as a director - and it’s the first marine superhero flick ever.
I finally relented in seeing this movie because A) It's the Justice League and B) I really had to see the Flash up on the big screen - what little I saw in the trailers looked pretty good so in spite of the cautiously positive word of mouth, along I went to my local fleapit.
First impressions: I like Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Unlike the garbage Nolan Batman films, you actually get some good Batman in action scenes in this super team debut. The Cosmic Cube(s), er, Tesseracts, oops, 'Mother boxes' like a lot of things from well established comic book continuities, are quite different from their comic book counterparts and form the main part of the villain's quest.
The Flash is GREAT. He's played for laughs (groan...) but once in action, the depiction of his super speed is pretty good. Marvelites will claim superiority over the highly regarded speed sequences in the last two X-Men movies featuring the mutant speedster Quicksilver but Ezra Miller's Sultan of Speed looked pretty good to me (he also has a great line in action poses).
Aquaman comes into his own later on in the movie. He's certainly not the global protector of the seas, that's for sure. Cyborg isn't done too badly either. There's an interesting twist to his origin which I won't spoil for any of my admirers. He's not as bad as I thought he'd be which is nice!
However, on a less positive note, Cr*ppy CGI blights this whole film, which is par for the course nowadays. By the third act, I felt it would've been better to nip home and play Injustice 2 on my games console as the digital doubles onscreen look and move like high end plasticine based animation. There really needs to be a decrease on the reliance on CGI for lazy directors and film studios in films like this where physical stunts utilising mechanical effects, stunt men, wire work, miniatures and/or optical effects would make the set pieces look a lot more visceral.
I must also point out that the digitally removed moustache/facial hair on one character in this film looks utterly bizarre. Unfortunately, with the heavy reliance on cheap looking CGI to pad out the demands of a ropey script, you end up being forcefully reminded that you're basically watching a modern day version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The build up to the uh, final slugfest where the villain sets up his ultimate hideout really takes the biscuit in terms of stupidity. None of it makes sense but the film producers know you'll be too bamboozled to care either! Having the Batmobile in this segment doesn't make much sense either but the end result is loud and frenetic and sufficiently frenzied enough to make even the most hyperactive or ADHD afflicted soul pay attention.
If you're old like me then you'll find Justice League mostly hard going; characters mumble non-stop, the motivations of the usually 100% CGI villain(s) and the objects they desire rarely adhere to the comic books (you know, those things that have been published continuously and successfully in their own right for decades) and any aversion you might have to the overuse of digital effects means you're basically old and out of touch, daddio! You begin to realise how people felt when movies began to have sound or when colour film stock became the norm instead of B&W!
However, if you're reading this and you haven't yet seen this film or bought it on disc, I recommend you do; it's got quite a few cool Easter Eggs in it and I must say that the obligatory post credit teaser scenes are the best I've ever seen. For sheer old school comic book geekery, they are fantastic!
DC Comics/Warner Brothers, you really need to spend time and money on better writers and directors for your DCEU (DC Extended Universe) efforts and CUT DOWN ON THE RUBBISHY LOOKING CGI!
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