Much Ado About Generic “Justice League”

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I’m  old enough to remember when the DC superhero amalgam “Justice League,”  was called Justice League of America, or JLA.

But perhaps to widen the appeal of the franchise to an international audience, it ditched the word “America.”

imagesstI wish I could say this latest entry in the DC Extended Universe makes the JLA great again, but it’s another visually dense, narratively generic slog from director Zack Snyder.

Like other DC-EU movies Snyder has directed (“Man of Steel,” “Batman V. Superman”) the self-serious “Justice League” is a storm before the calm affair. You don’t need a weatherman to know it will be dominated by bleak themes, murky visuals and bombastic action, despite hopes otherwise.

While the Marvel comics films have a tonally diverse flair with touches of camaraderie and humor, the DC films are leaden and one-note affairs, with “Wonder Woman” a breath of fresh air.

In fact, “Justice League” most resembles Snyder’s feel-bad superhero knockoff “Watchmen,” based on a ground breaking graphic novel.

The “Justice League” villain is another destroyer of worlds, searching for an ancient power source to unleash death and chaos…blah, blah, blah. And so Batman’s Bruce Wayne rounds up other superheroes to stop him / it.

Like a rotting fish, the grim tone starts at the head with Ben Affleck’s bulked up and armor-wearing, impossibly rich Batman. Jason Momoa is a hard-drinking Aquaman. And did anyone really believe that Henry Cavill’s guileless Superman, killed in the last film, would not return in some fashion? The only question is how.

Still, “Justice League” has things to recommend it. Gal Gadot, as Wonder Woman adds Amazonian, charisma, leadership, and common sense. She should be in every DC film. and Ezra Miller as Barry Alan AKA The Flash, a self-described Jewish nebbish who adds comic asides, but whose origin story is not explored.

Also at two hours in length, “Justice League” is about 15 minutes shorter than “Batman V. Superman.” But at an estimated budget of $300 million budget it’s one of the most expensive films ever made.

Additionally, the aggregate movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, partly owned by Warner Bros. studio, which owns the DC franchise, is accused of withholding the 40% score of “Justice League” for two days until the day the film was released.

The result is much ado, for sure, about nothing, more or less.

Listen to my reviews and entertainment updates Sunday mornings at 7:20 a.m. on WTMJ-AM (620).

 

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