Justice League is a Frankenstein of a film. A movie that seems to be fighting for its own identity. At some moments having Joss Whedon’s comedic writing and bright colors and at others, going back to the gritty and grim Zack Snyder-ized DC. Though, somehow it never seems to be boring. I think that would be quite hard to do actually, considering how many plot lines were crammed into a two hour movie.
I just want to say sorry to Marvel Studios (and Cate Blanchett) for criticizing Hela’s character and purpose in my Thor: Ragnarok (2017) review. Justice League‘s villain, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is so jammed into this movie that he feels like a joke. Closely resembling the features of other DC antagonist, Ares from this year’s Wonder Woman. If Warner Brothers publicly announced that Steppenwolf was created to be a satire of stereotypical comic book movie villains I would believe them. He ticks all the boxes. He shoots blue portals into the sky sometimes, has evil minions, and has little character past just being “bad” and doing “bad stuff”.
The actual Justice League made me more excited for what was to come rather than what I was actually watching. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) was a pretty solid character and my personal favorite of the crew. Momoa’s portrayal of the character was a tough and playful “dude-bro” that gelled well with the angle that they were going at for his character. I will be highly anticipating James Wan’s Aquaman when it releases late next year. Ezra Miller as The Flash was also a stand-out character. The character gave Whedon a chance to write a couple funny jokes. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) was the weakest new character introduced in this film. He was not the funny and charming incarnation seen in Teen Titans but more of an angsty character (topped off with really bad CG). As far as the three characters that were already introduced. Superman (Henry Cavill) had a weird and creepy half-CG face, Batman (Ben Affleck) was an old man, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was still a badass. Jeremy Irons’ incarnation of Alfred also felt much more fleshed-out than in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
Since three out of the six members of the Justice League have to be introduced in this movie. You can assume that the pacing feels rushed. Well you would have assumed right. Everything is all over the place and exposition is just casually thrown around. Without getting into spoiler territory, there are many other things going on and it just feels too excessive for something that could be much more straightforward. The funny thing is, that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was attempting to set up and introduce the Justice League but it was done so poorly that I guess Warner Brothers felt like it was necessary to do it in a more formal fashion.
The CGI in this movie may not be the best, but the fight scenes are pretty enjoyable. As long as you ignore why they are happening that is. Any time that Wonder Woman fights someone or that part at the end where they all team up and fight Steppenwolf (remember, it’s not a spoiler if you know it’s going to happen) was so corny but it is hard to hate it because of how hokey it was played off as. The cinematography was standard Zack Snyder fare. Very dark sets and large wide shots. Some of these shots were even color-corrected in post to look brighter and it fits about as well as Slipknot fit in Suicide Squad (2016).
I can’t say I was disappointed with Justice League. After hearing about the production issues over the past year, I expected it to be much worse than the final product It is a movie that is bad but not in the nearly unwatchable way that David Ayer’s Suicide Squad was. It is dumb and mindless fun that I am unsure if it is self-aware with how messy and tonally uneven it is. Watching it with other people in the theater is not the way to watch this movie however, I would say wait until it gets released on Blu-ray or streaming, get some friends together, and have a good laugh. You can only laugh and talk your friends so loud in a movie theater but in the comfort of your own home that is not an issue.
It’s pretty hard to believe that in a span of just ten years, we have had three different actors playing the role of Peter Parker. But where Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies did a lot of repeating what was done in the Sam Rami films, Spider-Man: Homecoming does pretty much none of that. Sure, characters like Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Mary Jane (Zendaya) are in the movie, but we no longer need to see the origin of Peter’s powers as well as the death of Uncle Ben. Instead, we are taken right into the events following Captain America: Civil War as we follow 15 year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he tries to prove what he has to not be treated like a kid by his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).
The big difference between this and the other Spider-Man movies (other than what was listed in the paragraph above) is that this one is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Possibly the best instance of this, are the cameos with Captain America (Chris Evans) and just the way that Peter’s friends talk about the Avengers and know that superheros exist.
The best part of Spider-Man: Homecoming, is the characters. From Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon) to Michael Keaton’s portrayal of classic Spider-Man villain, the Vulture, to even minor characters such as Hannibal Buress as Peter’s PE teacher Coach Wilson, they all add to what makes this movie work so well and makes it so funny. The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s (2014) Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson creates less of a stereotypical jock, but instead more of rival to Peter that is intelligent as well as arrogant. And of course, what would a Spider-Man movie be without a good portrayal of Spider-Man? Well, I can assuredly say that Tom Holland does a good job at portraying a teenager and while he may not look 15, he definitely sounds it. My only criticism was that I felt like the movie may have needed a bit more Tony Stark. This is because Peter Parker and Tony Stark have such great chemistry and I wanted more of it.
Thematically, Homecoming is reminiscent of the coming-of-age films from the 80s, mainly John Hughes films. The idea of the perfect girl, the homecoming dance all just screams this style. It also differentiates the movie from other superhero movies, showing that a superhero film doesn’t need to be cookie-cutter but can be a fusion of different genres.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is another addition to Marvel’s ever-growing portfolio of films and one of the best so far. I really enjoyed this movie and I think pretty much anyone can. This is a funny as well as character-driven movie that is also relateable (about growing up not becoming Spider-Man). And it was written by six people! Breaking the record held by The Mummy (2017) for the most screenwriters I’ve ever seen attached to one script. Except this one is actually…good.
No setups for other films, no e-mailing of the Justice League to Bruce Wayne, just Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins showed us all how to make the first actually good film in the DC extended universe. Other than flashy visuals, Wonder Woman is a championing of what happens when you can make a story that stands alone. This didn’t advance the plot of the other DC movies because it did not have to. This is Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) story.
The film opens on the Amazonian island of Themyscira, where Jenkins creates a lush and colorful island that is just stunning to look at. The beautiful world of the Amazon Warriors is juxtaposed with the more grey and gloomy look of 1918 London as well as the front of World War I; showing what industrialization can do to land that looked just like Themyscira.
Wonder Woman‘s characters are instantly likable. Hearing this group of fighters talk and interact with each other was what really made the film work so well (other than the action sequences). Gal Gadot did a perfect job of playing a naive and good-natured person who is thrown into the crazy and hectic real world. Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor is as a boastful, comical, and brave spy. Steve Trevor and Diana Prince’s chemistry worked as they provided foils for each other with Diana being an ideologue and Steve being a man more in touch with his actual world. Other supporting characters, such as Charlie (Ewan Bremner), Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) all are good inclusions in the picture.
The final act and the main villain is really the only weakness of the film. Which is a shame, because it felt like the film was avoiding tropes and cliches for almost the entire running time until the final battle. The final battle became also quite CGI-heavy and it looked like it was taken straight out of Injustice 2. Then Ares, the main villain felt underdeveloped and just thrown-in for the sake of it being a superhero movie. Now that isn’t to say that the final act is all bad, just like the other fighting sequences, the action is still great, but it was just a disappointment to see Wonder Woman fall apart at the end of the movie. If the final act could be compared to anything, it would be James Mangold’s The Wolverine (2013).
Finally, we have a film worthy of Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s kick-ass theme song written for the character. Wonder Woman is a step in the right direction for the DCEU.
Logan (2017) set the standard for superhero movies, at least for ones this year. But, does every movie have to be emotionally as powerful as that film was? Of course not! Marvel Studios is here more, to merely create fun entertainment in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Watching the Guardians travel from sci-fi set piece to set piece was quite impressive. The detail to the areas showed the care put into them. Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and crew were pretty much all did good jobs with the script given. With the exception of Drax (Dave Bautista) which we will look into later.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the villain is always considered to be the weakest link. With the exception of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) every other villain seems disposable. In Guardians 2, Ego (Kurt Russell) felt much more memorable as the antagonist makes it stick out compared to other marvel movies. The disconnect from the rest of the Marvel Universe makes the movie stand out as well. Not everything has to be filled with cameos and references to other superheros, and Gunn understands that.
The soundtrack was very well selected, just like the first’s. A lot of surprising picks show up on the set list. It’s best to not look into the soundtrack before watching because it makes the movie all the better. An awesome title sequence begins the choreographed music-video battles in this new selection of hit 70s songs.
Marvel really needs to slow down when it comes to the jokes. Comedy should be present, but it does not need to be as frequent as it shows up? Drax is the embodiment of what I dislike about Marvel Studios movies. His purpose in the movie was to tell an unfunny joke then laugh obnoxiously the same way Seth Rogen does as a que for the audience to do the same. Most of the movie going public seems to feel differently about the inclusion of so much comedy in these films but, it does really seem to affect the more sad or intense scenes. (Guardians 2 did handle an emotional scene well however, unlike past Marvel movies so bravo James Gunn). From the classic “language” quote from Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) to “that’s the wi-fi password” from last year’s Doctor Strange (2016) people seem to have a favorite bad joke to make fun of in these films. This picture is no different, offering one of the worst yet with “Tazer Face”. The joke is unfunny at first but it continued getting referenced again and again and it just continued to make it less and less unfunny.
With the exception of the failed attempts at comedy. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is pretty great. James Gunn was also the sole writer for this film and it made the film feel much more even tonally, compared to other MCU films. This is a rare exception where the sequel is possibly even better than the original film. Thank you James Gunn, this was a great way to kick off the summer blockbuster season.