'Justice League' is a good place for the DCEU to hit the reset button

A roundup of what's playing at the cinema this weekend.

Justice League gives us a Bruce Wayne who has found some hope in humanity and is inspired by Superman’s act of sacrifice. Seeing that a new, more powerful enemy is coming and that once again the world is at stake with no Superman to protect it, he enlists the help of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, to help him recruit a team of heroes to stand against the new threat. Aided by Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, Batman’s new team is overmatched at nearly every turn by the world-conquering Steppenwolf who is after three alien boxes that can destroy and change entire planets.

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Let’s get what I didn’t like out of the way:

Justice League felt like an overreaction the biggest criticism of Batman v Superman which was its dark and gloomy tone. This film went too far towards a light-hearted tone. The villain, Steppenwolf looked terrible. I’ll grant that motion-capture/CGI characters are not always easy to pull off but the life of those characters is in the face and the facial expression. What we saw on screen has no weight or sense of life. Two hours felt too short for a movie that should be the centerpiece of a cinematic universe. Again, I think this is a reaction to the bloated runtime of Batman vs. Superman. I didn’t like this version of Batman and Bruce Wayne. I liked the angry Bruce Wayne from Batman v Superman but this one just didn’t seem angry enough. You could argue that he was inspired by Superman and had hope for the world. But again, I blame this on over-reaction to criticism. Batfleck was one of the best things about BvS and I would have liked to see something more in the middle of these two portrayals.

Here’s what I did like:

Danny Elfman’s score. He uses themes from his score for Tim Burton’s Batman and themes from John Williams score for Richard Donner’s Superman. He also incorporates Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman theme. It helps to mesh those cinematic worlds together and is a nice gift for fans of the older superhero films. I liked what Ezra Miller did with Barry Allen/The Flash. He was still trying to figure out his place in the world and what to do with his abilities and he’s also the source of most of the film’s humor. To me, he came across as more of a Wally West than Barry Allen (that’s a reference to the Young Justice comic). They just can’t seem to mess up Wonder Woman, which is a good thing. Cyborg grew on me as the film went on and Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman seems like the kind of guy who walk into a party and says, “who has a beer for Aquaman?” and starts throwing people out the window. Oddly, I’m OK with that because I’m pretty sure Jason Mamoa does that.

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The highlight of Justice League happens at about the 75-minute mark. I will not spoil it for you but it’s culmination of the worst best-kept secret in cinema. (meaning that everyone knew the secret but the studio still pretended it was a secret). That scene is worth the price of admission.

Here’s the summation of my thoughts: Justice League has a lot of failures and few successes. However, those few successes outweigh the failures. It’s a good place for DC to take a breath, hit the reset button on a few things and move forward.

Also in theaters this week, based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie's extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can't blend in when you were born to stand out. Wonder stars Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts.

In Sony Pictures Animation's The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told — the first Christmas.