Weekender

‘Justice League’ should consider disbanding

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jason Momoa, from left, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher in a scene from “Justice League.”
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jason Momoa, from left, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher in a scene from “Justice League.” Associated Press

“Justice League” is a bad movie.

I could have dressed it up a little, maybe selected an adjective that’s a little higher in fiber or contrived a more artful sentence structure that makes me feel better about that four year investment in college — but why digress?

Instead, I ask you to think about your last visit to an automatic car wash and the odd sensation of being soaked, sudsed and buffed into oblivion but still having to take a shower later.

“Justice League” is a lot like a car wash, minus a logical sequence of events. A lot of very expensive looking soap gets thrown at the windshield, the vast majority of which never even comes close to touching those who are being pulled along for the ride.

Mostly it just trickles off the hood of what was intended to be DC and Warner Bros.’ star vehicle for those great lovers of spandex Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash, Aquaman and maybe ... possibly ... most definitely Superman.

As both a capper to a trilogy of comic book films —“Man of Steel” (lukewarm), “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (too cold) and “Wonder Woman” (just right) — and an act of corporate contrition, “Justice League” attempts to advance ongoing story threads while simultaneously unraveling the tangled knot of testosterone-drenched nihilism that prevailed the last time the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton shared a poster.

The resulting 119 minutes walk the line between sequel and remake with the grace of a drunk at a sobriety checkpoint. It says something when your film’s best moments are almost entirely superfluous the plot — Wonder Woman foiling a random act of terrorism, Barry Allen visiting his father in prison, a certain iconic shirt rip.

Rather than make good on any promise of it’s own, the movie seems largely content to trade in these free samples from a half-baked meal. One can’t help but get the impression that “Justice League” had to die so that other, potentially better, movies might live.

After director Zack Snyder departed the project in the wake of a family tragedy, “Avengers” auteur Joss Whedon was brought in to oversee reshoots, ostensibly to let a little bit light back into pitch-black Gotham City.

If you’re at all curious about how well this tonal mishmash of sensibilities might play out on screen, I’d suggest taking whatever happens to be sitting on the third shelf in your pantry, tossing it into a blender and hitting “puree.”

Otherwise, sit back and remember the immortal words of Mr. Fred Rogers, because “Justice League” desperately wants you to be its neighbor.

Everything here — from the pacing to post combat banter (not to be confused with the pre-combat banter)— has been designed to cut a loose figure. It is the poncho of modern filmmaking, able to accommodate audiences of all shapes and sizes while doing absolutely none of them any favors.

Oh, well. Complaints like these have a short shelf life, anyway.

As cinematic universes continue to sprout like weeds between here and Tatooine, “Justice League” may cease to be evaluated as a movie at all, but rather as the awkward adolescence of a franchise that has yet to reach full maturity.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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