Movies are a truly fascinating thing. They can inspire, entertain, educate, and touch the human heart in ways almost no other art form can. Sometimes a movie is just simple entertainment for one person and a life changing experience for another. It is odd how one movie takes on something more significant for one individual than any filmmaker could ever have imagined, but sometimes it happens and the DCEU has done that a few times for me.
A few weeks after my dad got cancer it was announced that ‘Man of Steel’ was coming out. So, watching Superman reborn (a character that personified my love for my father) with him and knowing it might be the last Superman film I ever watch with him was profound. It was like witnessing birth of one of the greatest characters of all time and being given a renewed connection to one of the most special things my father had given me as a young boy.
Then, a few years later my father goes into the hospital again on the same week we were suppose to go see ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’. I spent all week by his side and only left to see that movie. I actually asked him if he wanted me to cancel my screening, but he told me to go and take my son. As most of you know, Superman died at the end of that film. While many others scoffed about the film being too dark or having plot holes, I honed in on the questions of divinity and sacrifice. My favorite superhero sacrificed himself for mankind and just a day after the films release my father also passed from this world.
It has been a year and 7 months since I watched my fathers life leave his body. It’s been the exact same amount of time since I watched my favorite hero sacrifice himself. It may sound corny or like silly irony to some, but sometimes movies and characters manifest themselves as something more than just works of fiction. In this case, that something more was the loss of father and his resurrection on screen is an event I have looked forward too like a kid in a candy shop. I knew it wouldn’t bring my father back, but it might bring some of that light back that he shared with me when I was just four years old.
Well, what I ended up getting from Superman in the much awaited ‘Justice League’ movie was not quite as cathartic as I might have wanted.. Yet, I will not argue that I didn’t enjoy the direction they took it. It was fun, and delivered some emotional moments in a way that I didn’t really expect. Not to mention the fact that Supes gets an opportunity to be one hell of a bad ass! All in all, I think my dad would have loved the way they brought his Superman back. Well, he would love all of it other than one glaring problem.
That problem is the horrible CGI touch ups of Henry Cavill’s mustache. I could honestly go on all day about how disappointing this CGI upper lip is. I don’t even understand how someone can completely resurrect actors from the dead for performances in ‘Rogue One’, but the artists for ‘Justice League’ could not keep an upper lip from making Superman look like a damn video game character. Now, there are certainly moments where it works, but I was heavily distracted and I couldn’t get over it.
Luckily, the rest of the movie is a blast from start to finish. I can overlook superficial flaws when I’m having a lot of fun and that’s exactly what this movie is. Not to mention the fact that there is some surprisingly good character work being done here by just about everybody. Even Billy Crudup and Amy Adams make a pretty touching impression in their very short appearances as Henry Allen and Lois Lane. Plus, I think JK Simmons is going to make a bad ass Commissioner Gordon when he’s given more time to flesh out the role.
Still, at the end of the day this movie is all about the heroes and they are the best part. Everybody cast in these roles fill their suits perfectly. Jason Momoa brings the proper amount of gruff and playfulness to Aquaman. Ezra Miller is a total show stopper as the Flash. Ray Fisher has some really good scenes as Cyborg. Gal Gadot provides the heart of the movie as Wonder Woman. And Ben Affleck shows real growth for Batman since his turn in ‘BVS: Dawn of Justice’. I would like to give credit to Henry Cavill, but his digital upper lip really makes it hard to judge his performance. Regardless, his Superman really kicks ass and delivers emotion in this movie. It’s when all these characters are able to play off each other that ‘Justice League’ soars highest.
You also can’t deny Zack Snyder’s visual flair. The one thing I consistently find ridiculous are the complaints about the way these movies look. All of Snyder’s movies have more visual personality than any of the films Marvel have put out. This is a mixed bag for the studio because it means that they get a film that feels alive with visual wonder, but it also means that the generic color palette, lighting, and cinematography that makes the visuals of Marvel films easy to ignore goes out the window. Which adds to the plethora of things that the critical majority like to dismiss as clutter, but it’s actually quite intricate and beautiful. Snyder might not be the greatest storyteller, but he’s a true visual artist.
I also loved all the humor and heart that Joss Whedon added into the proceedings. While I would really like to see what Snyder’s original vision was, what we ended up getting is a blast for its entire run time. It certainly has flaws that I wish had been remedied. Steppenwolf is a particularly weak villain, the beginning is rushed, Danny Elfman’s score doesn’t quite stand up to Zimmer’s, and I wanted a lot more intensity out of the ending, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a blast.
So, while this is no game changer and didn’t deliver the deep emotion I was hoping for, it left me immensely entertained. The characters worked wonderfully together and I really can’t wait to see all the next solo movies now. I wish Superman didn’t look like a video game half the time, but he’s a more entertaining video game character than just about half the protagonists in the cinema are flesh and blood characters.