Justice League (Almost) Live-Blogging

They almost got me.

I opted not to see Justice League when it came out in theaters last year. I'm not a fan of Zack Snyder or the current slate of DC movies that bear his influence, and the troubled production, which saw Joss Whedon taking over for Snyder, wasn't encouraging. But the word of mouth, including some of the reports from my fellow Fifth Worlders, ranged from "mixed bag" (which counts as a win for Warners and DC these days) to "beats expectations." That was almost enough for me--I have loved these characters since I was five and on some level I still wanted to like this movie. But I held out until the DVD hit Netflix, and now, dear reader, you can watch it along with me.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

No, wait, that's not right. We need something darker, more "mature readers." More Zack Snyder.

That'll do.

Okay, let's give this movie a fair shot and OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH SUPERMAN'S MOUTH?

Hey, is that Holt McCallany? Maybe this will be like the Nolan movies, where all the bit parts are played by familiar faces. Not a bad idea at all, it suits the epic scale a Justice League movie ought to have.

Except - wait - how was Batman's plan supposed to work? Has he been going around Gotham just randomly dangling burglars off of buildings until he lands a parademon?

Awfully handy that when parademons explode, they leave a picture of the thing they're looking for.

Did Batman just let Holt McCallany go free? When I think of Batman's essential character traits, "letting the little things slide" is not one of them.
One Whedon reshoot, one Snyder scene, and we're 0 for 2.

I guess this shitty cover of "Everybody Knows" goes with the shitty covers of "Heroes" and "Come Together" they used in the trailers.
This is going to be Shitty Covers: the Movie, isn't it?

Oh my god, did you just use the deaths of Bowie and Prince to sell the fake fucking gravitas you couldn't earn in your last bloated failure of a superhero movie?
This thing has already gone off the rails. So glad I didn't pay to see this in a theater.

Hey, that guy is so sad about the death of Superman that he's kicking over some fruit!
Oh wait, he's just a racist. Shit, we have those here.
At least the DCU police are arresting this asshole.

Wait - we're in another country - could it be...?

Oh thank god - Wonder Woman is here to save this movie!

Hey, is that Roose Bolton? Is WW going to kick Roose Bolton's ass? I'm in.

Why does the score for this fight scene have some boring Danny Elfmanisms instead of the WW theme?
And really, isn't hiring Danny Elfman to write a superhero score in 2018 itself part of this movie's Shitty Covers aesthetic?
Oh, there's the WW theme. Took him long enough.

"I bet he's going to give it to me anyway" - was that supposed to be a joke?

"I hear you talk to fish" - well, at least I know that was supposed to be a joke.

Okay, I like Aquaman's sweater. Nice, subtle way of nodding to his orange scale mail shirt without going too on the nose. Kudos to the costume--
Whoops, there it goes.

So, I guess that village in Iceland knows Batman's secret identity now?

I don't mean to sound rude, but this scene with Bruce Wayne in the jet... Henry Cavill isn't the only guy in this film who had his face altered, right?

I like using the cut to hide Barry's super-speed activity. More of that, please.
Even if the joke itself is more "was that supposed to be a joke?"

Hey, it's Billy Crudup! My favorite part of Watchmen and so far my favorite part of Justice League.
Too bad it's part of the Geoff Johns backstory that tries to make Barry Allen a tragic hero.
Still, I like Crudup's mild touch - he always cuts right through the Snyder pomposity.

Ray Fisher... does not.

Welcome to beautiful Shitty CGI Island!

I know that I'm supposed to be pissed at this movie for the Amazon bikinis, but mostly I'm just pissed at how incompetent everything is.

The Amazon fight scene is pretty good, though - it establishes why this world needs a Justice League when even these warriors can't stand against Darkseid.
Or Darkseid's bland, personality-free minions, as the case may be.

Wait, did she just shoot an arrow from Whereverthefuckitis Island to the Parthenon?
I guess you either think that's idiotic or you think it's cool. We know which kind of movie this is.

And Diana knows what it means? How many of these signals do they have? "Okay, one arrow at the Parthenon means invasion..."

Is this cursing lady on TV supposed to be funny?

Why is Martha in Metropolis? Other than to dump some bad exposition?

Saying "thirsty" instead of "hungry" - was that a joke? Ha ha the old lady doesn't understand our slang! Take that, grieving mother!

Where did Cyborg get that photo of Batman without his mask on? Why did Batman let someone take a photo of him without his mask on?
Maybe he posed for it in that village in Iceland.

Half an hour in, and our first meeting of two heroes. But damned if Gal Gadot doesn't liven up this dreary script. "Yeah, it looked expensive."

I actually kind of like the cod-Tolkien backstory, it just doesn't lead anywhere interesting.
But don't worry, fans, Zack's loaded it up with Easter eggs just for you!

Oh shit, did Salaak just get iced?

No, apparently it was this handsome guy.
These jokes, man. I think Barry Allen's real super power is Trying Too Hard.

The Janus building in Gotham, gorilla sign language... I like the universe of stories Snyder is seeding a lot more than the one he's actually telling.

I guess Bruce Wayne got rich from all the obvious product placement?

The Snyder/Warners/DC idea of heroism: everyone is miserable all the time.
Guess which scene this comment refers to!
Trick question.

Oh god, this Mera scene - maybe you should have done the Aquaman movie first so we didn't have to sit through all this clumsy backstory that has zero relevance to the plot?

(Seriously, I think about 90% of Marvel's success is just making their movies in the right order.)

And now here we are in lovely Gulmira, er, Sokovia, I mean--

Why did they decide to film the villain's big speech as a video game cut scene?

Look, I know J.K. Simmons is taking over from Gary Oldman in the Nolan movies, but why did they give him Gary Oldman's hair from The Fifth Element?

I see Danny Elfman had no qualms about working his own Batman theme into the score. But it does raise the tension nicely. Good work, 1989 Danny Elfman!

How the hell did Cyborg sneak onto that rooftop? What is he made of, plastic?

Oh god, they did a disappearing-on-Gordon rooftop joke. Hacky.

"Why does everyone keep telling me that?" Not bad, the first line of Steppenwolf's to convey a sense of alien menace.

How much time are the Justice Leaguers going to spend standing around talking about what to do, instead of rushing in and saving people?
How long will The Fastest Man Alive wait until he moves?

Considering how sparing he is with the WW theme, Elfman's constant quotation of his Batman theme is starting to sound less like a callback to an old friend and more like resume padding.
This could actually work if he kept quoting all the characters' themes, which would require half of them to have themes (and movies).
And would require the character with the greatest superhero movie theme of all time to not be dead at the start of the movie.

(What does it say about Warners and Snyder that, given a cast of characters that includes three of the most recognizable heroes in the world, they chose to sideline one of them and keep him out of the initial marketing?)

How badly does WW need that sword? She's Wonder Woman! Try a fist.

Oh look, it's the Quicksilver scene.
I realize Snyder can't resist the slo-mo - seriously, giving him a movie with the Flash in it ought to constitute some form of entrapment - but maybe try something new?

Hey, look everyone! It's Aquaman, using his well-known power to... part the water... or something.
("Look, it's water, okay? Close enough.")

This is the sort of movie where characters soulfully intone "the change engine" out loud to themselves, like those words mean anything.

Meanwhile, back in Gulmirasokovia, a clever, brave little girl reaches for a can of bug spray. I believe the name on the can translates to FORESHADOWING.
(Edit: I was wrong. It translates to "This is another joke that doesn't land.")

"Like a bat cave." Barry, your power really is trying too hard. For the love of god, stop trying to polish this turd.
You too, Joss.

The disagreement over whether to raise Superman isn't bad - everyone's points are valid and their motives are clear. For once, the angst isn't forced.

I really have been trying not to play "Who directed which scene?" but I guarantee the shot where they show Clark's body holding the picture of Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent is Snyder. Because nobody else misses that asshole.

Oh goody, more Flash slo-mo.

And here's MORE slo-mo. This Superman/Flash duel really ought to have rapidly shifting time-scales as we cycle in and out of the different characters' points of view.

The fight between Superman and the League could have been fun, but it plays out way too slow, too stagy (everyone helpfully waits their turn) and Superman is far too evil.

"Do you bleed?" Man, this crew is just full of mediocrities who love to quote themselves.

The Batman/WW relationship works, because it builds on previous movies (even the crap one). There's a reason for doing these movies in the right order.

"Praise to the mother of horrors" - does Snyder not actually get what a Mother Box is in the Kirby comics? Or is this yet another (quasi) parental figure he's converted to sociopathy?

CORRECTION: Gulmirasokovia is in fact Notchernobylistan. The Fifth World regrets the error.

Batman's nightcrawler is shaped like a crab and his troop transport is shaped like a catfish. Does Snyder not actually get who Batman is?
I look forward to the Snyderverse Batman prequel where somebody chucks a seafood restaurant aquarium through Bruce Wayne's window.

I like the Aquaman confession scene, nice riff on a Priest gag - and then it's marred by reaction shots straight out of some lousy sitcom and something weird about prawns.
Even the good jokes are followed by "was that supposed to be a joke" jokes.

Alfred saying "playing all your favorite hits" while the Batman theme swells - yeah, no shit.

Aquaman's combat tactics need some work.
I can't wait for the sequel, when Hawkman keeps diving underwater.

So the plot hinges on Cyborg making contact with the Mother Box, and Cyborg has lost his mother. (So have Flash, Aquaman, and Batman.)
The movie does nothing with this.

I see somebody got the memo about superheroes saving lives.
Too bad they didn't get the other memo about the plot making a lick of sense. After establishing that Superman is the only one who can stand against Steppenwolf, they promptly... send him somewhere else to do the Flash's job for him.

So much shitty CGI.

Superman's "slowpoke" crack feels right for the character (Superman should be all about the dad jokes) and it might have worked if these guys already knew and worked with each other. But they don't have any prior relationship that didn't involve Clark trying to kill Barry.

Which is worse, Snyder's desperate, overcompensating need to be taken seriously or Whedon's desperate, overcompensating need to lighten the mood?
Trick question.

The aftermath has too many warm glances and flat jokes, bonding moments the script and characters haven't earned.

The bank line is good, though. And once again, it builds on characters who already have a history.
The Marvel formula ain't a secret, folks.

That's an... interesting decision to bring in a narrator for the last scene of the movie.

Does Ezra Miller know how to run? More to the point, do the people who filmed him?

But then - a reporter in dorky, heavy glasses ducks down an alley and rips open his shirt while Lois Lane says "Look - up in the sky." And that is all I need from a Superman movie. That brought out the only genuine smile in this movie.
So naturally, it was the last line.

Well, at least the ending left a good impression. Hey look, a mid-credits scene! I wonder if Superman and Flash are going to OH GOD HIS MOUTH

(Seriously - these are reshoots. Somebody made a conscious decision to go back and, at great expense, make this movie worse.)

And we're back to Shitty Cover Land. These guys aren't even covering the Beatles, they're covering the Aerosmith cover from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Aim high, boys!

Hey look! It's the dramatic return of Facebook Luthor, the one character everybody hated more than Sociopath Jonathan Kent.
Guest starring Joe Mangianello as Pirate Clancy Brown.

Tell me you don't see it too.

Well, we made it. I have to admit, this viewing was as much about curiosity as it was about any lingering attachment to characters who I kind of knew were not going to be served well. Since Justice League came out, fans have been getting into intense but pointless arguments over who's responsible for this car crash. Did Whedon do what he could to salvage another turgid, self-important Snyder disaster, or did interfering studio heads ruin some mythical work of staggering genius? Who made the good (or at least passable) movie and who made the bad one?

That's asking the wrong questions. Justice League is not a good movie locked in combat with a bad movie and arriving at mediocrity.

It's two mediocre movies fighting for screen time.

I'll see you all in Wakanda.
Justice League (Almost) Live-Blogging Justice League (Almost) Live-Blogging Reviewed by Marc Singer on Friday, March 23, 2018 Rating: 5
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