Upon Further Review, JUSTICE LEAGUE Is Still Good

I gave it a second try. Because I needed to be sure.

When I saw Justice League on opening night, I was keenly aware during the first half that I wasn’t watching the movie so much as judging it.

My reservations were so deep that it took until the second half before I could slip into that mindset where I was simply enjoying myself. In the end, I actually had a hard time saying “I liked it.” Because I couldn’t believe that I did.

But I dutifully went back to 13th Dimension HQ and spun my 13 QUICK THOUGHTS review. You can read it here. It’s a positive, though warts-and-all, evaluation of the film.

But I still had this nagging sense that I needed to see it a second time. Just to be sure. Weird, right?

Usually when I want to see a movie again so quickly it’s because I was so in love with it that I wanted to replicate the experience as quickly as possible. (See: The Avengers, The Force Awakens.)

This time, I needed some bizarre vindication, an affirmation that I could believe what I’d just seen.

So I went. And I came out with the same exact take: Justice League may be flawed but it’s a good movie that honors its characters. It takes considerable liberties with the source material but ultimately succeeds.

Of course, it’s impossible to say where things are headed since the movie underperformed at the box office. I can’t imagine that Warner Bros. will stand pat; more creative changes are likely to come — and that’s more than OK with me. It wouldn’t surprise me if Zack Snyder’s days in the DC Extended Universe are over. Same with Ben Affleck.

But all that’s to come. What’s left is that despite all the upheaval that got us to this point, we got a Justice League movie that was a good time.

I just needed confirmation.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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6 Comments

  1. I enjoyed it and word-of-mouth has been very good.

    Odd that it under-performed given that the word of mouth has been very good. 85% approval (by viewers, not critics) on Rotten Tomatoes. Female viewers give it an A- on Cinemascore (possibly due to Wonder Woman).

    So with a long weekend coming up, it may have “legs” and do well enough. Wonder Woman only had about $9 million more its debut weekend and went on to gross over $400 million domestically and over $800 million world-wide.

    Justice League has little competition until the new Star Wars comes out so hopefully there will be some time for it to do well.

    An interesting read from Forbes is Box Office: How Rotten Tomatoes Screwed Over Justice League on how Rotten Tomatoes, and the media in covering Rotten Tomatoes, black-flagged the WB release just before the release date.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2017/11/21/box-office-how-rotten-tomatoes-screwed-over-justice-league/#fdd160037423

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  2. There’s a sickness, a delusion really, that is common among fans. I was guilty of it WAAAY back in 1997 when I told a friend that BATMAN AND ROBIN was actually a really good movie. It was only when this same friend waited in line and raved about the new Star Wars film (whichever the one with the kid and the chariot race) that I realized the symptoms.

    You love a character or characters so much that you like whatever pablum is spoon fed to you and like an eight year old watching THE SUPERHERO ROAST or Nicholas Hammond’s SPIDER-MAN that it’s actually good– when the reality is more it’s exciting to see these characters “come to life” in live action.

    Time and distance away is where you really have a chance to watch it again and realize something like “Yeah, Christian Bale’s Batman voice is pretty ridiculous.” Or that Roger Moore is actually a pretty sucky James Bond.

    Is this the case with JUSTICE LEAGUE? I don’t know I haven’t seen it and I won’t. I paid to see BATMAN V SUPERMAN and I’m still waiting for WB to send me my $30 back. They don’t get another buck out of me. I have a few trusted reviewers I rely on and they were all in the camp that while this was better than BAT V SUPEY it still had a lot of flaws.

    There are too many good movies and books out there to waste two hours on something that’s just OK.

    What I don’t understand is the rampant fan wish that these movies that are actually bad (BVS) do well. You won’t get good stories until the money men realize fans want an actual story. But then again, it explains why fans still buy whatever over long multi issue crossover snore fest the big two are churning out in the monthly titles.

    Like Michael Scott, who thinks it’s better to have a LOT of really bad pizza rather than a little really good pizza.

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    • I think you’re mostly right, Andy, philosophically. I’ve argued as much. But Justice League wasn’t wish fulfillment. It wasn’t a case of me wanting the movie to be good so it was. It was a good movie, plain and simple.

      I didn’t like BVS. I didn’t like much of MOS. I ignored Suicide Squad. I liked WW. I liked JL. That’s a pretty straightforward scorecard.

      What got me was how surprised I was that I did like Justice League, despite my deep reservations. I didn’t watch it a second time to make myself like it. I just needed confirmation that with so much stacked against it, my response the first time was genuine. I was so caught off guard that I actually wanted to take it from the top and see if it actually worked. It did.

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    • I almost walked out of Batman and Robin. No illusions here no matter how much I loved the characters. Batman v Superman I appreciated in the theater but really thought the extended version was what should have been the theatrical release after getting it on DVD. It deepened the character motivations and filled in some gaps.

      I didn’t think BvS was “actually bad” by any stretch. I think some reviews at Forbes really captured the intent of the film.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/03/29/the-critics-must-be-crazy-batman-v-superman-is-fantastic/#515ab7831cc5

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2016/03/22/review-batman-v-superman-triumphant/2/#135c37b23c83

      It wasn’t perfect but no film is. But if someone didn’t like it, fine. Critics hated The Thing (1982) and were aghast at Psycho (1960) and they are regarded quite differently now. Times change, tastes change and cultures change. American critics didn’t care for Godard’s films with all the jump cuts. They are now honored as part of the French New Wave. Laurence Dunmore’s film The Libertine (about John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester starring Johny Depp) was derided by the US critics but lauded in the UK (winning nominations and awards). I loved it.

      Marvel films more and more seem to be glib and formulaic. Thor: Ragnarok was fun and jaunty but so forgettable. BvS I mulled over and over until I saw it again and again. That’s just my taste, allow me that. I have some ability to have an informed opinion as I studied film and video production and then went into it professionally (along with soundtrack composing).

      I remember loving John Carpenter’s The Thing all the while the critics were calling it “pornography” and “vile.” Too dark, poor character development/motivation, confusing, nasty. Now it is lauded. The same criticism were leveled at BvS. Perception may change. It may not. I enjoyed it.

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  3. I really enjoyed Justice League and will probably appreciate it more after seeing a few more times. I took me several views to fully appreciate The Dark Knight although I felt it was something special.

    As for critics thinking JL is “bad” (or the same of MoS, BvS, SS), take the 1966 Batman TV show. Mainstream critics derided it at the time. Camp was supposed to be “so bad it’s good” but many critics thought it was just “bad.” They had certain conventional criteria for a show that was unconventional for it’s time. Even long time Batman comic fans at that time were aghast at what they felt was a buffoonish caricature of Batman.

    Now the show is generally beloved and enjoyed for what it is. It is not many fans ideal of what they think their “Batman” should be, but accepted as a take on the character that was successful on its own terms. In many ways it WAS true to many qualities that Bill Finger imbued in the character and his world.

    Perhaps those who were upset with the show’s version of Batman mellowed after Tim Burton’s version or Christopher Nolan’s appeared. Because then, the predominant notion of Batman the TV show created that lasted for 20-odd years was challenged by what many fans saw as their “proper version” of Batman.

    When Batman Returns was released there was some critical concern about it being too dark but most critics applauded Tim Burton’s take on the characters (I didn’t care for it; much preferred the the first film). They apparently had no qualms about Batman deliberately attaching a bomb to a criminal and knocking him into the sewer. But by the time of BvS people were up in arms with Batman not caring about collateral damage when he was fighting, resulting in deaths. (He did not deliberately murder though; he could have brought a machine gun to save Martha Wayne and just shot everyone. And yes he did use a gun early in his career.) But again the criteria was different between the two eras in which the films were released whether you agree or not they were appropriate.

    So critical criteria change and what is perceived as “bad,” “good,” “excellent” depends on the critics’ criteria as well as the cultural criteria of the time.

    I find Justice League to be quite “good” and hope it does well. I like the character arcs that have brought Batman and Superman to become the heroes they are. But I was willing to go through the darker aspects of their development (BvS) to show their growth and their rise from the despair they felt.

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  4. I have not seen the film again but I will. Maybe today. And it is not just because of some sort of wish fullfillment thing. It was plain and simply a good film. A could story touches a range of emotions. This film does that. Thor was a huge disappointment for me. No story or a story so shallow a cockroach could not drown it it’s depth. Warner DC took a chance to reach for a solid story that covers a broad range of emotions with their films in my opinion. Somehow the dc films make the superhero’s come across to me like real people. I could never be Groot. Can’t identify. But I could be any of the characters in the Justice League film in a sense of how they feel an act the – human. This film suffers from hyper criticism. These superhero films have become commodities and are being sold as such and the public is taking the bait. I cannot fault the story because of the marketing of gods. The story is there to see.

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