Justice League

As A quick follow-up to yesterday’s blog, I wanted to examine the limp-dicked response coming from “an executive” at Warner Bros. Basically, they’re saying that Thanksgiving week will be their saving grace, because it gives people more time to see the movie.

Because, y’know, no one spends the days after Rape The Indians day doing things at the mall other than watching JL.

This movie is so screwed.

Over a year ago, I predicted that Justice League would under-perform, leading to a soft reboot of DC Entertainment, and the entire DCEU. I was wrong. JL is bombingCurrent tracking has the film making less than $100m this weekend, far below the barely acceptable estimates of $120m. With Warner’s DCEU drop-off being historically well over 60% for successive frames, this means JL is gonna clear somewhere around $400-$450m worldwide.

That might sound like a lot of money, but for this movie, it’s nothing. A huge loss. The movie itself cost $300m. With global P&A (release materials and marketing) costing a bare minimum of $150m, Justice League needs to make something like $700m-$750m just to break even. Apparently, even fanboys will eventually stop eating what you serve if 4/5 of what you feed them is dogfood marketed as steak.

It’s safe to say that heads are gonna roll. Warner’s has needed a kick in the ass for some time. Diane Nelson (president of DC Entertainment) is no Kevin Feige (her opposite number at Marvel), and her obsessive support for Zack Snyder, despite each successive disappointment and disaster costing more — and failing bigger — than the last, has been mystifying.

Even if Tangerine Caligula bullies the DOJ into killing the AT&T purchase of Time/Warner in his lust to kill CNN, you’re still going to see a complete restructuring of DCE. If the sale does happen, you’re likely to see something a bit more slash and burn. You might even see DC sold off (to Viacom? Verizon? Facebook, even?) to a brand-hungry interloper who wants to start fresh, leaving Warner Bros. to flog the Harry Potter franchise into oblivion.

Let me tell you what isn’t going to happen: That solo Flash film that has no script or director. Or The Batman, which doesn’t have a script or a star. Or Suicide Squad 2 (because that was a good idea), or Shazam or the Harley Quinn movie.

James Wan’s Sawquaman is in the can, so that will get a dramatically scaled-back release and die quietly after a week in theaters. Wonder Woman 2 will probably move forward, since WW was the ONLY bright spot in the entire, dismal DCEU firmament. It think it’s more likely, though, that it will turn into the DCEU reboot film that Justice League was supposed to be (rebooting the DCEU after Man of Steel booked them into a shitty hotel, Batman v Superman got drunk and trashed the place, and Suicide Squad broke in and shit all over the beds).

The problem is Warner wanted that billion dollar payday, and they wanted it quick. They thought they could simply mimic Marvel’s model, let Zack cherry-pick his favorite moments from various comics he didn’t really understand, and that had nothing to do with each other, and slap it all together in a grim, mass-murdering package.

So, Warner… It’s time to clear the Etch-a-Sketch on the DC Extended Universe. Shake that fucker up, keep Snyder away from the lot, hire some people who have EVER read a comic, and stop trying to be Marvel. You’re bad at it.

When Batman v Superman made far less than expected, there was a chorus of breast-beating from Warners execs that the 27% Rotten Tomatoes score was responsible (because the answer can never be, “Well, we released and utter pile of dogshit, so…”) When Suicide Squad did even less, the same complaints were heard. Other studios who also floated massive turds into theaters chimed in.

With Justice League, it’s plain that Warner Bros reached some kind of… accommodation… with Rotten Tomatoes. The site hid JL‘s score (currently at 40%) behind it’s own new, unwatchable film review show streaming on Facebook until this morning. Even more telling, despite the fact that reviews range from “Well, it sucks less that BvS,” on the good end to the Vanity Fair and Telegraph reviews on the bad end, the Rotten Tomatoes “capsule review” that was posted until the score became visible seemed to only be drawing from the better reviews.

Is it possible the people at RT don’t understand that continuing to do this will likely damage their (perhaps undeserved) brand beyond recognition? Guess we’ll find out.

A couple weeks ago, I got invited to a private screening of Justice League by some people I hope very much to be doing business with. I had no interest in the movie, but I went to schmooze. My overall response was… *shrug*

Justice League is nowhere near the level of utter comical unwatchability achieved by Batman v Superman, but it’s still not good. Wonder Woman, for it’s faults, is a much stronger film. Sadly, in JL, all they gave Gal Gadot to do was be Superman until Superman shows up.

Predictably, with two different directors, the movie is a stylistic hot mess. I’ve never seen such a schizophrenic film in my life. The stuff shot by Snyder looks NOTHING like the stuff done by Whedon (which is the majority of the movie).

The biggest problem is the characters. If you love the classic comic characters, these folks ain’t them. And if you love the characters in BvS (first of all, SHAME on you), you won’t be happy, either. These are the kid-friendly versions of Zack Snyder’s mass-murdering “heroes.”

A lot of people really enjoy Ezra Miller’s Flash; I found him incredibly annoying. He’s played as very young and immature and very spectrum-y in a way I HATED, even though it’s supposed to be charming. Cyborg is a pointless Iron Man clone who acts mostly as tech support and air evac.

Aquaman truly IS Super Bro! It’s like they gave powers to one of the guys from Jersey Shore. I kept expecting him to shout “GTL!” An entire film of this character is gonna be really hard to swallow.

Batman exists solely to make dire predictions, crack jokes (Hey! Batman is FUNNY!) and shoot things from his vehicles. Also, Affleck plainly had stopped giving a shit by the re-shoots; he’s like Harrison Ford in Return of the Jedi.

Wonder Woman is the plot exposition version of Sigourney Weaver’s Galaxy Quest crewmember. She just repeats things other people say so the audience gets it.

Of course the plot makes no sense. Doesn’t even try. The last half hour is just like the last 45 minutes of Man of Steel. It’s mindless action with no point whatsoever, and the resolution is both pointless and kinda dull.

That’s the thing that really surprised me. Overall, this movie is boring. Even at just over two hours, it drags, particularly in the middle.

Here’s the thing; as much as I loathe Zack Snyder’s murderverse (and I really, really do), Man of Steel and even moreso, Batman v Superman, are films of vision. Zack made choices. Setting aside for a moment that every one of those choices is laughably, disastrously wrong and ill-advised, he made them and then committedJustice League is a film of no choices whatsoever. It’s a corporate casserole cooked to be as bland as possible while selling the maximum number of toys.

The best part for me was getting to meet one of the cast members who was at the screening (not sayin’ who). I shook his hand and told him I admired his work. He nodded over his shoulder at the screen and said, “Not in this!”

Is it a terrible film? By no means. It’s just a superhero movie put together by committee. It’s loud and full of slow-mo and soulless and dumb. 8-year-olds will LOVE it.

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