Justice League: DC Finally Finds Humor

Until now, my two complaints about DC movies revolved around the facts that they are often too visually and psychologically dark and lack humor and fun memorable lines. Justice League finally fixes that by created a pack of superheroes who can be angsty but still make wisecracks while kicking, in this case, alien ass.

 The Plot

Justice leagueThis film continues where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice leaves off. Superman is dead and chaos rises while the world mourns. Batman, played by Ben Affleck, has done a mental 180, becoming a Supes-supporter. Some fans think he sees a world that has lost hope because their beacon-of-everything-good is gone and wants to change that.

I disagree. At the beginning of Justice League, Bruce Wayne is tracking the appearance of unusual creatures, looking a lot like human mosquitoes with killer bites. They are attracted to fear. He realizes something big is coming and he can’t handle it alone. Hence, he recruits a hidden, yet still active Wonder Woman, a nearly homeless Flash, the loner Aquaman, and a tortured Cyborg, who is barely in control of his awesome powers. Even with this much manpower, Wayne believes they still need Superman so he uses the Kryptonian pool that Lex Luther misused along with an alien artifact to raise Clark Kent from the dead. Worried about how he will react, Wayne has the rest of the group attempt to control a very angry man of steel once he is revived. One amusing part of the film is that Supes still kicks all of their asses even though two, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, are demigods (Superman too in a way). However, fear of what is coming is Batman’s motivation, not any need for hope.

The rest of the movie involves a new villain (yet old to the comic books), Steppenwolf, the Apokolips general for Darkseid. He collects the supposedly secret and guarded mother boxes to unite them and open a portal for something evil. I say “supposedly secret and guarded” because the big horned dude waltzes in, slaps everyone around, and goes straight for the glowing boxes with surprising ease. Their hidden vaults did not appear hidden at all.

Once opened, the group unites in an excellent battle scene where they really need each other to win. It’s not a case of “okay, everyone punch someone!” but more of an our-powers-united feel that leads them to winning. It also features some of the best humor lines.

Eye Candy and Feminist Controversy

DC seems to be drawing in the female audiences with their choices. We loved Wonder Woman as a pro-feminist movie. Justice League was all about the eye candy for the ladies.  Both Henry Cavill (Superman) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman) displayed rippling abs in scenes long enough to make the ladies fantasize about their favorites all night long. Yet some scenes were for the men as well. Gal Godot looked splendidly sexy in everything she wore, including some tight leather-like pants that showed off her legs and rear beautifully.

Some critics have stated that the Amazon women were displayed back in leather bikinis again rather than the full armor shown in Wonder Woman. They felt this was insulting by pushing women back into the sexy-but-stupid roles because who would fight with exposed abdomens? Anyone watch the 300 (2006) recently? The movie was true eye-candy for women and every one of the (male) Spartans lacked protective coverings on tanned thighs, ripped stomachs, smooth chests… ahem, but I digress.

I understand why some folks are upset. However, I only saw the leather bikinis in fast paced backgrounds. The queen and the guards still had their armor and helmets. None of the lesser costumes were obvious in the movies or at least they were not front and center as a main point, so this controversy seems like a fuss over nothing. With women’s health being under attack in the real world, a glimpse of leather bikinis is a distraction, not a controversy.

Cool Scenes

The creepiest moment in the show is due to excellent filming. Superman has awakened in a foul mood from the dead and is holding another superhero at bay. The scene shifts to Flash’s perspective as he enters the speed force. Everyone else is motionless but Supes’ eyes begin to track the Flash in a classic “oh crap!” moment before Clark punches him. Wonderful visual moment.

Most of the big ending fight is great too but the best highlight is where Aquaman is airborne. He is fighting and being tossed around by the flying mosquito-humans. He becomes victorious with help and then grabs one, kills it, then surfs the body back to the ground, popping off with long hair still perfect.

In conclusion, this movie had better lines, better relationship chemistry, and great filmmaking as compared to most of the previous DC movies. I’m starting to like Batman again even though I hated the Christian Bale interpretations. Affleck gives the character a smoothness and thoughtfulness that is not buried in so much darkness. I’d like to find out more about Aquaman, although he is as loner and as much an intense jerk as the Bats at times. The tension between the two is great.

Justice League is definitely worth seeing, possibly even twice to get nuances not apparent the first time around. Although I don’t go to IMAX and 3-d showings for private reasons, I can see how the film would rock in those types of theaters. However or wherever you can check out this movie, do so. It’s well worth the ticket price.

 

 

Wonder Woman, Naïve Feminist

(Dear Readers, this week was filled with computer problems so getting this blog out has been a monumental task. It lacks links and pictures but hopefully you will still enjoy the review. Next week will be better.)

As usual, spoiler alerts!

The newest DC move, Wonder Woman filled the screen this last weekend, earning great reviews and profits. It came across as a feminist film, which seems like a political statement by Hollywood considering all the issues on women and their healthcare. I’m all for political statments, particularly pro-women ones.  While watching, I realized that this movie would not have sold well a few years ago. Remember, American women didn’t get the right to enter combat zones until 2013. Yet here is a princess no less kicking ass and generally being more effective than her male counterpart. Throughout the movie I kept wanting to yell, “You go, girl!”

One factor that makes this a feminist flick is that she is the victor in every sense, particularly when facing a clearly masculine icon, Aries. The battle was painful and difficult, both internally and physically, but she prevailed. The bad guy was played surprisingly well by David Thewlis of Harry Potter fame (Remus Lupin). He certainly was not who I would think of for a god of war. The message of the movie states that humanity is a warlike race but our capacity to love one another makes us redeemable.

The film starts with young Diana, the only child of the Amazonians, wanting to train with the warriors so much that she breaks her mother’s, the queen’s, restrictions at every opportunity. This self-centered willful nature continues throughout the movie. If someone tells her “no,” or “you can’t,” she redoubles her efforts to do it anyway. The queen offers multiple hints that Diane is so much more than the average warrior but keeps her child ignorant of Diane’s true destiny.

Eventually men come to the island in the form of Steve Trevor, followed by boats full of Germans shooting rifles. After the costly battle and Trevor’s explanation, Diane feels it’s her time to join the world and fight Aries. She leaves the island still naïve but hellbent on her mission. Her lack of knowledge of the real world and London society provides some humor as she tries to fit in or act equal to any man, even in a society that greatly discourages it.

The movie also features interspersed scenes of the two minor bad guys, a German general and a malformed chemist, attempting to make a weapon better than mustard gas. Germany is on the brink of suing for peace, something the general hates. My question here was why did the woman have to be scarred? This comic book simplicity (even in a comic book movie)  detracts from the story. The obvious relationship of “scarred on the outside equals twisted on the inside” hits like a sledgehammer. They should have gone for a more subtle statement, because this implies only ugly women are enemies.

Since this is an origins tale, Diane must go through several battles until finally Aries reveals himself. He tells her of her true background and purpose on earth in an attempt to win her over. The “join the darkside” kind of plot twist is clichéd and predictable. However, Gal Gadot pulls off the emotional angst well and provides an excellent Wonder Woman portrayal. Just like Leonidas in the 300, she moves with grace and fierocity in the fight scenes. The slowing of the film allows us to see the moving human form as something fearful and beautiful. Yet like the Batman and Superman flicks, this movie lacks any successful humor or great take-away lines, even though it was visually simulating. Because it is an origins tale, Diane goes through a clear character arc, losing her innocence along the way. Otherwise, the DC movie characters tend to stay unevolved, not matter what happens to them.

I give this movie a 3 ½ to 4 stars. Its worth the price of admission and possibly the cosplay outfit. Certainly I would not hesitate to buy my young daughter (if I had one) the Wonder Woman costume over Disney princess any day.  Then I’d walk her around while wearing  the Amazonian general’s leather and fur costume. That one’s cool for any con or faire.