Justice League (2017)

Capsule Review (Minimal spoilers):

Justice League is DC Comic’s latest attempt to bring their comics to the big screen. It’s a followup to 2016’s Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, which set the stage for the formation of the Justice League from the comics. It makes a good-faith effort to repair the flaws of the previous movie. It succeeds, and sets the stage for future DC movies quite well. Recommended.

There is creature-fighting violence, and an appropriate level of humor.

There is a mid-credits scene that’s a nice cap on the events, and then a post-credits scene that adds some wrinkles.

Standard Review (with minor plot spoilers):

Justice League

The film starts with a good montage of what happened next, as it were. After Superman’s death in the previous movie, people are trying to get their lives back together. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has stopped covering front page news. Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Godot) is still saving the world, in small ways. Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is on the trail of some creatures that are kidnapping some people and killing others.  It’s becoming a pattern that’s adding up to something, something that he can’t prevent on his own. After a time, he talks to Wonder Woman, and they agree, they need help. That’s when they reach out for more.

At it’s basic level, the movie becomes a ‘follow the MacGuffin/create the team/face the bad guys’ sort of thing. As per the previous film, Batman and Wonder Woman had Lex Luthor’s files on The Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Each have their own reasons for joining or not, but given the title of the film, you know they eventually do. Each encounter was reasonably thought out, and they all do realize they must play a part in what’s to come.

Unlike BvS, the tone of this film is a lot less bleak. My initial assessment of the film had me loving it, though on successive watchings, I can see how desperate I was to like it amidst the sea of Marvel movies. The movie, while  mostly dark and moody, has some better moments, thanks to decent dialogue, and a story line where all the heroes don’t act like idiots when it’s convenient for the plot.

Speaking of story, it relies on elements from BvS, as well as this year’s Wonder Woman. A new foe appears to menace everyone, but at the real heart of the movie, it’s team building. Not everyone gets along, and all for different reasons. I won’t spoil any of those, because some of that’s the best part of the film. Everyone has to feel each other out to get a better sense of how they’ll properly mesh together.

As mentioned, there are jokes. Most of them are related to some joshing amongst the team, for who they are, as heroes, and what they do, or won’t, as the case may be. My favourite of these are related to The Flash, and it just helps form him personality as different from The Flash on the WB TV show.

The soundtrack is rather good, too. The opening montage uses a song from Leonard Cohen quite effectively, and the majority of the soundtrack is by Danny Elfman, who makes use of his old Batman score, and adds some themes from previous DC movies. It’s a worthwhile compilation that complements the film.

I do recommend the film. It’s not a great film, but it’s comforting to see that DC is starting to get things right.


Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Capsule Review (Minimal spoilers):

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest superhero movie from the Marvel Universe of characters, and is, in my opinion, one of the best movies they’ve produced. Every component of the movie works – the story, the visuals, the music, and the characters combine to make it a very entertaining movie. Oh, and the humor, lots and lots of humor in this film.

As has become the tradition with Marvel films, there are both mid-credits and post credits sequences, which both advance the overall  Marvel story. It covers a lot of ground in its two hours and ten minutes run time, and is well worth the price of admission.

Highly recommended.

Standard Review (with minor plot spoilers):

A forgotten Asgardian, Hela (Cate Blanchett) has returned to claim her title, but not if Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) have anything to say about it. While fighting her, Thor and Loki are diverted elsewhere, while Hela makes her claim. Naturally, the Asgardians  won’t just relinquish control.

Thor ends up in an unlikely place, and is captured, but allowed a way out. The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) holds gladiatorial games, and decrees that Thor will be released if he defeats The Grandmaster’s Champion. The trailers give it away, but I won’t, in the highly unlikely case there is someone out there who still hasn’t seen the answer. Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

This movie is firing on all cylinders. The story is good, and complex, to a point. All of the characters with speaking parts make sense in their own ways, instead of just being their to accommodate the main characters. Meanwhile, everything looks incredible – the costumes alone really stand out for the secondary and background characters, with wild designs and color schemes that have to be seen to be believed. They put a lot of effort into making truly unique supporting characters.

The music, at first didn’t really seem to fit. It’s full of ’80s synth flourishes mixed in with its dance beats. It didn’t make a lot of sense, until you couple it with the wild pastels of the supporting characters, and something clicks.  These two components work together to make it an homage to ’80s films in general. Flashy and fabulous. Oh, and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was the composer.

I was really pleased that the trailers don’t really give a lot away. There’s much more to this film than the trailers tease. As mentioned, this movie starts to set up the next few Marvel movies, without being heavy-handed about it, at all.

Definitely recommend Thor: Ragnarok as the sort of movie you should see in the theaters. The grandeur is so very appealing. There’s a strong likelihood I’ll see it a second time before it leaves the theaters.