I had deliberately ignored the trailers and reviews for Justice League that had been thrashing their way through the internet. When I sat down in the cinema I was already suffering from some apprehension going in thanks to the tons and tons of negative press that has been supposedly pushed by the ‘public’, which, however, feels more like a calculated and paid for hate campaign more than anything else. What can I say? I cannot understand all the criticism to be honest.
The film is actually really quite good, however that is tempered by the fact that when the film finishes you feel more like you’ve watched a Marvel film than a DC film. The reason for this is obvious. Joss Whedon has managed to make this film feel unfortunately all too close in terms of pacing and content to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘.
The cinema released Whedon-Cut of Justice League is fast, snappy, quick passed and full of quips and conversation. However this is in itself the problem. That format works for Marvel but not DC. The pacing combined with the ridiculously short run time makes for a quick and breezy movie experience.
However this isn’t what DC fans want or expect. The Justice League are an epic team. The Snyder-Cut would have been longer and would have focused better on big cinematic set pieces. Certain sequences which would have been suffused with beautifully detailed slow-mo if Snyder had done it are now almost too quick and underutilized in this cinema released Whedon-Cut.
In terms of characterization it has to be said that the only decent thing about the film is Superman, he has grown from brooding uncertainty to confident godhood, he has become the Golden Age Superman. His fight with Steppenwolf in which he is more or less smiling throughout the entire confrontation is sublime and brilliant to experience, however this highlights all the more how much passed the mark certain other characters are. Batman is perhaps the worst of all the characterizations, he is now no longer dark and intelligent, he is now bumbling, unprepared and quippy and smiling all too much. And this is a problem. In the Justice League team, Flash and Cyborg are the primary outlets for comedy relief, not Batman. And as per usual Whedon has managed to run his comedy brush across every character. This is a disappointment. As I said, it works for Marvel, not for DC which, if we’re honest, is a far darker and more adult universe than their counterpart in any case.
Now for the music, MoS and BvS were all scored by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL and I must confess the soundtrack works and works brilliantly well. And for JL we get Danny Elfman. Yes, Elfman, creator of the original Tim Burton ‘Batman’ score. Although reminiscent of the original ‘Batman‘ and ‘Superman‘ movies it is ill-fitting in a modern DC property. It lacks substance and depth and, unlike the Zimmer and Junkie XL scores, it doesn’t drive any emotional resonance of any kind.
In short, this film is fun, quirky and a great experience, but it’s not a DC experience, which is a massive disappointment. As a devoted fan of DC Comics and Snyder I must confess I am actually really quite disappointed by the cinema-released Whedon-Cut and I sincerely hope that DC and Warner Bros. wake-up and release a special Justice League: Snyder Ultimate Edition.