"Justice League" (2017) Review
It's hard to write a review for a DC movie at this point without hearing some kind of story, and that story is usually about reshoots. Suicide Squad's entire lead up was dominated by legendary stories of attempting to re-edit the film and after seeing how it turned out, there was plenty of reason to worry about Justice League, which has also been plagued by similar stories. The stories around Justice League feel even crazier, with Joss Whedon having to finish the film without Zack Snyder, who was originally directing it. (I will put this aside here to mention that Snyder's absence was due to a family tragedy)
And against all odds, I enjoyed Justice League.
Do the seams of the reshoots show? Absolutely. Scenes will change in compositional nature from one half of the scene to the next, let alone the tone of the scene. The differences in Snyder's intended tone to Whedon's new pieces stick out immediately, and that's before you even talk about the visual effects work that reportedly had to remove Henry Cavill's mustache for the reshoots, resulting in the occasionally noticeable CGI upper lip. The visual effects for the rest of the film also feel straight up unfinished at times, especially during the film's red sky finale. And it's worth mentioning here that Cyborg and the villain Steppenwolf are bad CGI characters no matter which way you're looking at them.
On top of all that, the film picks up and drops entire subplots in an instant. What exactly is going on with a terrorist organization that intends to take the world back to the dark ages? You're not going to find out. The film has clearly been edited down to "essential" scenes to keep the pace moving as quickly as possible. Justice League barely gives you time to think about it's own internal mess.
With all of that in mind, why did I like Justice League? That's a litany of problems, and there are others I could list out piece by piece if I wanted to. But I can't deny how much fun I had watching this thing. The heroes generate a surprising amount of chemistry between one another and some of the super-powered fighting (dodgy visual effects aside) looks stylish as hell. I enjoyed the rapport the characters had and I was surprised by just how much fun the whole thing was.
I'll admit right now that some of my reaction to this film is based on how much I felt that Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was a straight up cinematic catastrophe. If Justice League was worse than that, I don't even know if I'd write a review for it because of how depressing that thought is. Call this positive review the result of lowered expectations, whatever. There's something that worked here, some kind of beating heart underneath this Frankenstein of a movie that made me enjoy it, and I can't deny that. Maybe it's that Justice League doesn't even feel like a sequel to Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. At times it feels as if Justice League is retroactively trying to change the tone entirely of its predecessor. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but again, I enjoyed it.
I know I've spent five paragraphs building up to my own argument of what makes Justice League a good movie, but I'll be honest, I can't put my finger on it. I literally can't. All I know is that deep down I enjoyed this movie my first time through, and I'll be honest in saying that I have a feeling that repeat viewings could be extremely unkind to Justice League, especially because of its rushed and underused subplots.
But for now, in this moment, and of this writing, I liked Justice League and I hope the next time we get a movie with these characters, they plan it out in advance instead of having to reshoot their way into something good.
Oh! I do want to take this moment to mention one last thing. There are two post credits scenes. One of them is a pretty fun gag that I liked for the most part. The other... The other I straight up hated. It's the scene that sets up where the next few films could go, and I hate what they're presenting here.