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The Coach’s Team (TCT) offers the best in conservative essays along with articles taken from various internet sites. The victory of Donald Trump has provided a God-sent opportunity to reverse the years of willful damage done our nation by Barack Hussein Obama.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Justice League 4K - doing justice to the DC comics universe?
Brothers' ongoing attempts to play catch-up with the Marvel cinematic universe
continues with Justice League, their version of The Avengers, in which a group
of superheroes teams up to fight a super villain bent on mayhem, conquest and
is, is it any good, and how does it stack up to the Marvel movies? And in the
case of this sparkling new 4K version of last year's Justice League film, the
answer is a decidedly firm "meh."
It's a shame.
As a kid I was a voracious consumer of comic books and most of them were on the
DC side of the competitive ledger. I was a big fan of Superman, and Batman, and
I loved The Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow and even Metal Men, the latter of which
was a team of "elemental" robots that fought together like, well, the
Justice League and/or The Avengers.
movie output has been spotty at best. The original Superman, from 1978, is now
one of my "desert island discs." That Richard Donner film, starring
Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman, was in my never humble opinion the only
Superman movie worth watching – right up to today. Bryan Singer's Superman
Returns tried, but Singer is no Donner, Brandon Routh was no Reeve and,
especially, Kevin Spacey in the role of Lex Luthor was unfit to shine Hackman's
first Batman film was pretty good, but the rest of that series went downhill
from there. Christopher Nolan, with his excellent Dark Knight trilogy, proved that
Warner Brothers really could greenlight a product that would do DC, er, justice
- but that was all tossed out the window when the studio brought in Zack Snyder
to take over its superhero helm.
I enjoyed Snyder's
300, but it's the only one of his movies I can say that about. The guy seems to
have a knack for making films that take themselves more seriously than required
– even the humour in Justice League seems forced. And it's artsy fartsy, with
ponderous slo-mo shots that add nothing but a sense of "you're slowing
down the movie so you can make it look cool" (not that there's necessarily
anything wrong with that) or "you're slowing down the movie so you idiots in
the audience have time to figure out what our geniuses are doing here."
So thanks to
Snyder, we got Man of Steel, in which Henry Cavil donned the red cape and
brought a complete lack of presence to the heroic role. We also got Russell
Crowe doing his best to make us miss Marlon Brando, Amy Adams making us miss
Margot Kidder, Kevin Costner making us miss Glenn Ford….
made money, so along came Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which inflicted
Ben Affleck on us as Bruce Wayne/Batman, making us miss Christian Bale from the
Nolan films while Jeremy Irons made us miss that series' Michael Caine as
Wonder Woman, like Nolan's Dark Knights, was a wonderful exception to the
dearth of DC comic book classics. Not only did/does Gal Gadot have incredible presence,
and a strength coupled with sweetness that really makes her portrayal of the
Amazon believable, the movie was fun and gave us characters and situations we
could not only believe (well, they're superhero exploits…) but could root for.
She was the only one I cared about in Justice League. Guess I must be sexist…
The bad news
about Wonder Woman is that it led straight into Justice League, as Gadot's
Wonder Woman/Diana Prince teams up with Affleck's "Batperson" to assemble
a league of extraordinary gentleheroes just in time to fight the latest and
greatest huge supervillain to come along: Steppenwolf.
seen Thor Ragnarok,
you'll find Steppenwolf and his magic carpet ride into the DC universe quite
familiar. Just like in Thor, where the Goddess of Death comes back from exile
to enslave everyone who isn't her, Steppenwolf was born to be wild, and now
he's set his sights on Earth again, after having been exiled in the distant
past. It appears he thinks that, since Superman is now dead and buried, thatnks
to the events in the earlier movie, those other superheroes are really just
pikers who won't stand in his way.
They recruit Flash
(Ezra Miller, who's the best thing here other than Gadot), Aquaman (Jason
Mamoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), none of whom really want to be there and each
of whom brings his own particular brand of angst to the story. At least Batdude
and Wonder Person don't need a Nick Fury-type character to recruit for them, or
to ride herd on them (Jim Gordon is the closest to a human mentor/boss).
don't get along, of course, and when they first have to take on the bad
guy-thing they end up with the problem unresolved, to say the least.
Fortunately, they patch up most of their differences, and exhume Superman so he
can help bail them out. Alas, Superperson has his own special angst and flies
away with Lois for a bit of, well, I couldn't tell if they were canoodling or
if he was just examining his soul for a while - undoubtedly so his return to
the battlefield could be timed for just when it was needed most – like when The
Hulk finally showed up during the big battle at the end of The Avengers.
Did I mention
this movie doesn't seem to have a lot that's new in it?
Not only the
story is stale; the action is merely more of the same stuff we've seen so many
times before these days (at least here we don't get as much urban destruction
as in some of these movies, and fewer martial arts moves) and while the special
effects are fine, there are many shots in which the CG is obvious (especially shots
of characters fighting) – and, heck, the bad dude's horned hat is reminiscent
of the one worn by the Balrogish thing in Thor Ragnarok.
There are a
few homages to earlier DC films, mostly via Danny Elfman's musical score, but
in one scene Irons' Alfred ponders the good ole days when the worst they had to
worry about was exploding wind-up penguins, a hat tip to Burton's Batman
Returns. I wonder if Alfred wasn't right, though. We've seen so many gigantic
and all-powerful supervillains laying waste to a plethora of worlds that I
wonder if it might be time to take a step back from the spectacle and come up
with a more believable and intimate adventure – kind of like the Bond franchise
did with For Your Eyes Only after Moonraker's excesses practically ruined that
movie is just a rehash of The Avengers, right down to the Tesseract (though
here they're "mother boxes"), not that it should be a surprise since
Joss Whedon (who wrote and directed that other film) was brought in during the
production to bail it out. He proved incapable of turning this sow's ear into a
silk purse, however, and that's a shame. An opportunity was definitely wasted
How does the
movie stack up as a 4K experience? Better than it deserves, to, undoubtedly,
but even here it's problematic.
may surprise you, though, because it has nothing to do with the 4K technology.
It's because of Zack Snyder's penchant for giving his films a weird, dark look
as if they're shot through a filter so that, rather than having wonderfully
bright and open shots of the spectacular vistas he's showing us - shots that could
be eye popping and gorgeous - it's almost as if he's shooting "day for
night" even in broad daylight. So, during most of the shots, the film is
darker than it needs to be.
League comes on 4K with a 1080p Blu-ray as well as a digital download code in
the package. It's also available on 3D and conventional Blu-ray, as well as DVD
and digital download. This review will deal with the 4K disc, 'cause that's
what we do around here. And it's a definite upgrade from the 1080p disc, though
as mentioned above it isn't what it could have been because of the film's
rather dour look overall.
are places where the 4K HDR picture does pop off the screen (better get ready
to duck!), though I'd have loved to see more of them because the film's
production design would look great in the hands of another director. At the
beginning, where Batdude is introduced, the dude himself looks a lot better in
4K than on BD (he becomes more or less a part of the background in 1080p; he's
blending in with the background, in the scene – because that's what Dark
Knights do - but he doesn't need to blend in that much!).
underwater scenes are also upgraded compared to 1080p, thanks mostly to the
High Dynamic Range encoding. And in some closeups you get a really nice look at
the textures of costumes and faces, and fine detail is really good overall. This,
alas, works against the shots where obviously CG characters are zipping around,
trying to off each other.
rocks, however. Warners has included both a Dolby Atmos and a DTS-HD Master
Audio track, which seems kind of superfluous since Atmos is backward compatible
to the older lossless audio formats anyway and having two versions takes up
disc space that could be used for video information. Obviously, no one asked
I don't have
Dolby Atmos, so I auditioned the DTS soundtrack and it's fine, though (like the
movie itself) not particularly remarkable. But it's a journeyman soundtrack,
dynamic and full and will fill your home theatre well thanks to its good use of
all the audio channels.
course, Warner Brothers piles a bunch of extras onto the Blu-ray version, though
I thought a lot of it was more promotional than informational. Still, there's
some meat here, including an interesting look at the costume design, a history
of the Justice League in the media, and some other stuff.
I was looking
forward to seeing Justice League and hoped it would be a worthwhile outing. And
it's worth seeing at least once, especially in this 4K release. But it could
have and should have been so much more than the basic rehash of the superhero
movies that have come before, populated by some good actors (such as J.K.
Simmons, Diane Lane, Joe Morton, etc.) who have nothing to do or no screen time
in which to do it.
mentioned above, it's time for a stepping back, to a more basic type of
superhero film such as was the first Sam Raimi Spider-man movie, or the first
Iron Man. Or even the original Donner Superman, which threatened to wipe out
the west coast of the U.S.A. but not the entire planet and all those around it.
film has to be a spectacular. "Downsizing" worked for Bond. Maybe it
can work for Superman and his little friends as well – and maybe that could
help differentiate the DC universe from Marvel's.