Disclaimer: The following review contains a few spoilers. I have given fair warning…
Comic Book enthusiasts (of the DC fictional universe) rejoiced vociferously on the 16th of November as the much-awaited film premier of the Justice League Movie took center stage in cinema houses the world over. Fans lined filming theaters for hours on-end, and waited in wild anticipation for the chance to catch their favorite superheroes and super villain (spoiler alert!) descend onto the screen.
And as is the case with virtually every movie premier, some actually managed to like the production; while a sizeable other-half openly despised it.
As a film critic with an early pass, I had the opportunity to watch some of the action unfold in advance of the debut date – and to pen my review in accordance with what I witnessed (and managed to reflect over, in consequence). And the very first thing that I noticed, which is something of a no-brainer, is that this film has been designed primarily for the big screen.
I had watched the film’s trailer a number of times (using my Optimum Internet Packages home connection) before my invitation to attend the pre-release screening arrived. And let me just state, right here at the outset of this piece, that the movie proceeds as nothing more – nor less – than as an extension of this video snippet first released by Warner Bros. studios in December last year.
This is good – if you’re the typical extroverted moviegoer who thrives in the adulation and contempt fostered by & within large groups of people. But if you happen to be a hopeless homebody like me, who considers the television set and Netflix her best friend, then you might be a tad bit disappointed if you decided to stream the film over your home theater system or laptop.
Home movies, of the Notting Hill (1999), Prometheus (2012) and Inception (2010) variety, are primarily designed to stimulate their audiences’ thought process, and to put them in a contemplative mood. They bank on the viewer’s innate ability to combine introspection with imagination – a potent duo that reflexively puts him/her in a state of ‘pleasurable ecstasy of the intellect’. They may have multi-layered plots that render newer interpretations and insights upon every additional viewing, and like a good work of art, are definitely keepers within the records cabinet.
When considered in this way, most superhero movies, of The Avengers (2012), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017) type, are anything but!
They are loud, fast-paced and dim-witted dynamic canvases for adolescent-minded adrenaline junkies to derive sensual stimulation from, and to reflect their own internal angst back to. In other words, they are big money crunchers & makers, since most of the people who inhabit the world today LIKE this sort of slap-stick entertainment.
So kudos to film production houses for their brilliant marketing & sales insights, because they definitely seem to have struck a goldmine with these films over the last decade or so.
Newer cinema technologies like IMAX screens and multi-resonant Dolby Surround Sound add their own significant weight to this consumerist tactic. The demand for greater profits, of course, has always trumpeted any requirements for engendering some semblance of an essence – and this unsaid ruling seems to apply as noticeably to the filming world, as it does within other commercial and industrial settings.
When considered in terms of its plot setting, the Justice League movie is set within the timeline of the DC Extended Universe chronology, after the death of Superman, and before the consolidation of the superhero league officially under Batman and the resurrected Clark Kent.
The earth’s fragile peace is suddenly violated when the supervillain Steppenwolf decides to launch a sudden invasion with his accompanying army of winged creatures called parademons. His aim happens to be one of total planetary conquest – a second attempt instigated after a many millennia-long reprieve forced onto him by the combined forces of the earth’s godlike (and some actually deified) defenders.
The central issue pertaining to Steppenwolf’s assault concerns three ‘Mother Boxes’ – archaic cubes that offer the cosmic power to reshape the earth in the image of their wielder.
The first cube is kept locked away in the hidden island retreat of the fabled Amazonians called Themyscira – who are female Greek warriors descended from Zeus himself. The second artefact lies dormant within the mythical oceanic realm of Atlantis, while the third (in the film’s timeframe) is the subject of scientific experimentation at S.T.A.R Labs.
Sensing the threat, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit the young and temperamentally-opposite Flash and Cyborg, as well as the Atlantean Aquaman to their cause of defending the earth against this arisen ancient menace. In the process, Batman decides to use the mother box tucked away in S.T.A.R Labs to breathe new life into Superman’s corpse. This plan succeeds, and the budding superhuman crew succeed in adding an initially-vindictive Superman to their ranks; who soon re-collects his bearings & loyalties with the timely help of his mortal love interest Louis Lane.
Even though the League eventually manage to defeat Steppenwolf on his second earthly stint, their victory is secured at a great cost. Earth’s defenses are considerably weakened, its infrastructure devastated, and its human population thinned out. The events depicted within the story line also provide the impetus for the Justice League to formally band together, and agree to work in concert in defending the planet against all future attacks.
One thing which particularly irked me was the lethargic character-development engaged in by the ensemble cast of the film – obviously on the direction of the producers. Any sequels to this film definitely need to focus more on this production-end, since stellar graphics and mind-rattling sounds can often prove insufficient in leaving a film’s intended impact on its viewer – if it happens to get bogged down by a scarcity of spontaneous ‘chemistry’ that needs to be present between all of its lead roles.
Just my two cents…that’s all!