Justice League (2017) Film Review

All these years up against the mighty Marvel studios must have been such a challenge and creative pressure. Finally a few weeks ago we got to see the most famous DC comics characters united together as the Justice League on screen for the first time. This was of course several years after Marvel did the same with their iconic characters in Avengers Assemble to great success.

Between each DC superhero movie since around 2010, Marvel gave us usually two great movies each year and DC repeatedly floundered with not entirely amazing or only half-way successful films such as Green Lantern and Man of Steel. They looked great most of the time, everything at first seemed in place but fans and critics just were not convinced.

Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds cost a huge amount of money and hardly made back any of it. Man of Steel did well enough at cinemas but only received very mixed responses. All the while Marvel comics films featuring Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America all cleaned up financially and creatively.

After Man of Steel, DC continued on with their dark and brooding vibe and gave us Batman V Superman and this polarised audiences even more. Oh god, it was well over two hours long. Oh my word, it seemed to move at a glacial pace. Where was all of the action? Oh, in the very last 35 minutes. That film did not go down well at all (I actually…yes I do like it but do understand the negative responses) and next up came Suicide Squad. This next wacky, day-glo movie decided to mimic the Marvel movies and lighten the atmosphere and tone-more jokes, ‘zany’ characters, plenty of action. Well, besides some very obvious reshoots all the way until the film was released, which made the studios and producers seem very insecure and very desperate; again this movie had mixed reactions from cinema goers.

What were DC doing wrong? Did they know? Did they care? What were Marvel studios doing right? The trailers for Suicide Squad had a load of clips for scenes which did not end up in the film, it had some great music not in the actual movie…a real mess. Hold up though, I do still like the film (somehow…) even though as a few people have pointed out it had many really terrible mistakes all through it, some of the scenes and action sequences look very cheap and it could have been so much better. But we got over it. How? Wonder Woman hit cinemas in her own full length movie this summer. What a movie it was. Glorious, joyous, great fun film. It looked splendid, the direction was really great, the lead actress was perfect-everything came together just right.

Thanks to that one movie showing that DC film studio could do it right eventually we once again built up our hopes for their version of Avengers Assemble, the first movie to feature the most famous DC heroes together. Less than one month ago Justice League landed in cinemas. It did take me awhile to see it, but that was just due to things in life. Personally I may even have been more excited about seeing how this movie turned out than the new Star Wars sequel at Christmas.

Superman is dead. The world mourns and Bruce Wayne/Batman starts looking to put together a new team to fight some mounting mysterious threat. Justice League does start slow, in some ways, careful but lighter both visually and in tone. There had but much consideration to the changes to be made after the problems of Batman V Superman. Gradually as Wayne meets and contacts Aquaman, Cyborg, the Flash and Wonder Woman the story starts to move with more pace. What are the obvious changes and new elements? Humour, jokes and quips from each of the heroes but especially The Flash. This does help, it makes the whole film feel more fun, less of a grind. Yes Batman V Superman was very dark and moody, but I think it was intended to be like that and that Zack Snyder possibly was wanted to lighten things up when this film finally arrived. It may not have simply been the effect and competition with Marvel and the Avengers films. The actual Justice League comics were often more colourful and fun than the individual Batman, Superman or even Flash comics.

Like the Marvel hero movies, the Justice League are up against some all-powerful evil villain. He is named Steppenwolf and has some kind of mythological story legend. The actual plot of Justice League is quite blatantly similar to the Avengers long building Infinity War storyline-evil super villain needs to collect powerful mysterious things, put them together and can then rule the world/galaxy.  It doesn’t really get much more complex than that. That may be fine actually. I think the main problem with the movie is probably that we don’t really know or then care who this crazed Steppenwolf villain is as we’ve seen it many times before. That is not the real problem, more than the writers didn’t try to make the villain and plot something just a bit more different and get us more interested. Ironically, the Marvel movies often have forgettable or naff villains but are finally getting over than hurdle and now DC have fallen right into it. This is something I think they just about managed to conquer in the Wonder Woman film.

On the whole I actually do like most of Justice League-I was surprised how much The Flash and Cyborg were involved in the story and on screen and enjoyed both of them. Wonder Woman again really great-yes though possibly too many close shots of her butt, I mean really? The direction and cinematography I thought were really great actually. There were some really fantastic action sequences and I loved the visual style of the film. So do I thank Zack Snyder or Joss Whedon for the parts of this film that I enjoyed? Do I thank both men? It does feel like Whedon really added a lot into the script when he came onboard. So overall, it may not have felt as if it had a seriously important story or villain to overcome and it may have just served to start off a series of Justice League movies, which is fine. I don’t think most reviews you may see or heard are to be taken so seriously. This is a great fun movie. You do feel confident that it could be the start of a new positive chapter in DC movies from this point on if things can still go that way. I hope they do.


James E. Parsons is author of two SF books- Orbital Kin & Minerva Century, both available in bookshops and online now. His first horror novel Northern Souls was published in October and also available in shops and online as well.


ANT-MAN: The small but troublesome Marvel movie

So what is probably the most troubled and problematic Marvel comic movie since Iron Man stormed all over the box office a good few years ago, Ant-Man is finally going to land in cinemas in just a few weeks now.

Have you been waiting for this movie since it was first rumoured, all those years ago when new guy Brit film Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright?

Along with writer Joe Cornish (director of Brit comedy sci-fi hit Attack the Block, and star of the clever cult late night Adam and Joe show) Wright worked at the original screenplay for number of years while Marvel was establishing itself in Hollywood with the Iron Man films, and the others which then all led up to the first Avengers movie. A loose and rough working teaser cilp of the Ant-Man FX work eventually appeared, which gave many people optimism after a long while of irregular rumours and slim news about the project.

The Ant-Man movie did always seem a very unexpected and unusual choice for one of the early new Marvel movies (although now, many Marvel films have been released and very successful) but the director involved kept many people very interested and curious about just what kind of film we would be getting, given the clever, quirky style of Shaun of the Dead previously.

Sadly in the last couple of years, after so very long working hard at the project, Edgar Wright left the movie, with the usual ‘creative differences’ stated as the main reason, but there has been varied speculation for his moving on ever since. It seems most likely that he did have a more wild and radical film in mind to the kind of movie Marvel need to put out which will sit well alongside the Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and other major films they have planned.

With the new director Peyton Reed in place while Ant-Man was still being finished, and it seemed more big name Hollywood actors were still being added into the movie at that stage; what seemed to be almost a total production mess of hoped for but eventual comic-book big screen accident was somehow still coming to be some kind of actual film.

Now at this stage, we have  a new comic book inspired movie called Ant-Man starring dead-pan comedy actor Paul Rudd in the title role, unexpectedly Michael Douglas, and Evengeline Lilly among others, in what now does look to be a hopefully credible, fun and well produced film to maybe match some of the previous Marvel studio movies.

Do you think this could be the Marvel movie which will not hit all marks? After the strange mix of fast-paced action and comedy seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps this film will land all of the perfect marks in all of the right ways? Come a few weeks from now, we will see just how big the Ant-Man will be.

MARVEL MASH-UP: Spider-Man joins the Heroes at last

It almost just did not seem like it would ever really happen, the studios were doing their own distinct seperate things, competing against each other for overall domination of summer box-office in cinemas.
The mighty MARVEL comic and film studios had been doing almost everything right ever since the release of the very fist IRON MAN film back in 2008, with only one or two slight bumps in quality or miss-fires (most of you are thinking IRON MAN 2 right?). They seemed to have it all planned out so well, knowing their audience and loyal army of comic-book fans. If they gave us what was in the comics and hardly changed much as the characters and tales were adapted onto the big screen then we all were happy, much more than happy for a long while. Looking at the box-office figures of just the Avengers movie internationally tells us that they really do know what they are doing. But not everything is how they or the fan might want it to be.
Before the first IRON MAN film swept up so well at the cinemas, previously other companies and film studios had snapped up the rights to some of the comic book characters and titles while Marvel had been in a financial dry period years before. The Fantastic Four and Spiderman along with X-Men were owned by 20th Century Fox, Sony and Warner Bros.
From around the year 2000, Fox was the studio have the great success with establishing the X-Men film series so well, and then eventually we had two Fantastic Four movies of arguable quality before 2010. As the third X-Men movie recieved a frosty reception and the Fantastic Four films were not exactly instant massive hits-although they did do well enough on release-Marvel soon gave us IRON MAN and they took the lead.
Now we have had several years of successful Marvel produced movies, critically and commercially, and with their films planned out for released up to around the year 2019 everything seemed absolutely set in stone.
Finally for reasons that are not entirely clear, Sony have come to a sudden agreement with Marvel and Spiderman will be used in the Marvel films from this moment on.
Why did they happen? Why now and for what real reasons?
With at least over half a dozen new movies planned over the next seven or eight years, including more multi-character Avengers feature films, the entire list has now been shaken up and and new order put in place to allow for Spidey and his adventures on screen. Was this the best way to enter him into the fold along with the other Marvel heroes including Thor, IRON MAN, Captain America and a number of new and interesting characters currently being established for the mainstream cinema audiences?
We can look at the response to last years Amazing Spiderman 2 and perhaps understand why Sony have decided to finally make a sensible pact with Marvel after all of this time, and all of the Spiderman films of varied quality.
Even while the two most recent Spiderman films featuring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone may have initially seem to have been surprise big hits in cinemas, rebooting the series after the troubled end of the Sam Raimi trilogy a few years before; the most recent film did seem to throw in again just too many characters, subplots, lame dialogue and teen angst drama scenes. The balance was totally off, just so badly paced out scenes and a film diving head on into comic-book camp right alongside to infamous nadir example of Batman and Robin in the late 90’s.
So even though Amazing Spiderman 2 did set up another sequel and on-going storyline of villians and subplots relating to Peter Parker and other characters, will any of that continue when next we see him on screen? How will that sit with us? We were expecting the lead up to some kind of strange Super villian ‘supergroup’ movie inspired by the ‘Sinister Six’ storyline of the comics but will that make it to cinema? (In all honesty, I just am not entirely sure how that was supposed to work out. A big gang of evil comic book villians commiting some mega crime event…with no Spiderman…or Spiderman and some friends?)
Next up, we are now unsure about which actor will be playing old Webhead when he joins with the other Marvel Avengers on screen. If we read into some of the marketing and promotion strategies planned by Marvel internationally- and with mainstream films in general-they were aiming to increase their pull in Asian and Eastern cinema audiences, which can be seen in the cinematic visual and direction style and even the actors chosen to star in the film.
How will this all add to the already planned Marvel cinematic universe? Will effect be even better, finally uniting all of the main well known classic Marvel characters or could it see Marvel lose some quality and confidence in the films and audience they have already?
Over the next few years and movies we will see just how the Marvel machine continues on.

The wrong heroes? Avengers: Age of Ultron

It will probably be the biggest movie to arrive on cinema screens in less than a year from now, with post-production taking place over the new few months. It has the well known great iconic superheroes including Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor and more. There are even a bunch of other new faces this time, as we see the line-up change and expand. This is a good change, as the Marvel universe moves along in cinema, but is it the best change we could have seen?
for this next chapter of Marvel’s Avengers on the big screen, we have characters including Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision joining the group of heroes. They may or may not improve the balance and dynamic of action and adventure, along with the next menacing villain Ultron.
But what other hero characters could have taken part this time, and which should have?
We do have Scarlet Witch added this time, who will be there alongside Black Widow, but are there still not enough good female characters involved? Are the women just in the shadow of the over the top antics of the muscular and brash male heroes?
There could have been the less known but loved Black Panther, a strong and equally mighty black character to enter the cast. He may still be due a film of his own in future, so there is time for him yet in the next sequel.
Over the decades, there have been various changes to the line-up of the Avengers in the comics, with known heroes coming and going, and often the interaction and dynamics between characters has been worth seeing besides who they due to fight or battle with.
Another great character hero of colour who could have been added would be Luke Cage, who may have added an alternative feel to the story with his personal background and family where the other leads are less tied down.
A female character who really could have blown open the way besides the male characters would be Ms. Marvel. Like Supergirl, Wonder Woman and others, she would of course have needed a serious costume make-over which may have been too much. As a character, she has been often extremely bold and striking visually and in tales, and also she is being taken through a new design period so again it could be a while before she makes it onto the big screen.
As hugely successful as The Avengers movie has been internationally, could it have different and just as good? It did take a few movies to set it all up, and ultimately the movie did have to really contain the most well known and iconic Marvel heroes, but could it have taken more wild risks and been a better film?
We are getting a sequel, and another after that, and then the many related other Marvel movies before and after featuring other varied characters-some well known, other less so.
Now that we have seen Guardians of the Galaxy, and the great success that it has achieved with characters and a tale which some considered a real risk, the next few Marvel movies being lined up will offer more varied strange, unusual and interesting heroes, villians and tales for all.
Right now, some of the characters and movies due from rivals DC comics may actually seem possibly more bold and challenging but so far overall Marvel has given us regular, good movies with balance of epic action, sincere comicbook style visuals adapted well, well chosen actors. Can the Avengers become stronger and greater over time? Will the DC heroes suddenly rise up and claim rule over cinema screens in only a couple of years from now? We will see…


This week we finally got to see a much more satisfying longer real trailer for THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2, even thought we still will have many months to wait. The hype and build up really begins now.

Having already been given a shorter teaser revealing the sinister Electro to us, this full proper trailer offers up many more dramatic images and scenes. Having seen the first Amazing Spiderman film at the cinema, thought not immediately on release, I had mixed thoughts on it. The film gave us a more sleek and stylized version of the Marvel Spidey world, but I was still as expected underwhelmed by the overall acting of the new lead and the direction was just not as snappy or frenetic as that of the mighty Sam Raimi.

The Raimi Spiderman trilogy ended abruptly, where it might have continued on. There were a number of villains and story arcs which were left unexplored and in this fresh version of the franchise, they may finally be opened up and splashed over the big screens.

With the first new Spiderman movie I was impressed with the souped up visuals, the effects and largely the direction and  use of the Lizard villain, even if he really was not as amazing as he should have easily been.

Now with this new trailer for the second film in the suggested series, there are a number of things which tease that we-and the many, many serious Spidey fans-might soon, in a film or two down the road, see the infamous Sinister Six. From the Spiderman comics, this includes most of his challenging and wild villians coming together against him.

After seeing what the Marvel film studios have done with The Avengers and then the confused steps of the various DC comics movies and X-Men series, so many characters squeezed into one single movie may work or could end up a total mess.

This current trend with dozens of superheros and villains packed into one lengthy movie came from the Batman franchise I think, but as film effects have advanced, and cinema audiences have been observed and marketed, we then had the X-MEN films and Blade series and more, each time another one or two characters added into a screenplay. Not always a really bad thing, but many still see Spiderman 3 as a disjointed mess and more recently there was IRON MAN 2 which fragmented up a film in order to set up the expected Avengers movie.

With all of that in mind then, if in a couple of years from now there will arrive a Spiderman movie with a huge gang of villains ready to knock him down, will that also just be unbearable to see? Or could it actually give us the reverse Avengers effect, with a dozen evil characters to watch and probably a couple of other heros up there with Spiderman to lend some help?

The film studio I expect would love to see some Avengers sized box-office, but time will tell. Nuff said…





Looking through the latest issue of SFX magazine, I find some new comments about what still could be happening, even now being planned much more clearly and with dedicated focus.

After the phenomenal worldwide success of Marvel’s AVENGERS, which absolutely showed how much interest in comic book action and capers there is, and that audiences seem to now be so much more open and receptive to increasingly bombastic and wild comic book characters and story lines which previously would only generally been accepted on printed pages, by die hard comic fans.

While Marvel studios (Working with Disney now) have been pumping out a continuous line of great and fantastic movies including IRON MAN, IRON MAN 2, HULK, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA; the rival comic creators DC and Warner brothers studios have for the most part only had the BATMAN series keeping them proud, which of course has also matched if not been more successful than the IRON MAN movies in some ways. Besides that, DC put out the GREEN LANTERN movie.

It was reported to have a staggeringly over the top budget, then went over budget, looked like it really might have been some great new mind blowing superhero series, doing what others had not dared to approach yet. On release however, GREEN LANTERN, really did not grab people in the best way. Personally, I myself did like the movie, and there were many great things going for it. It did look really fantastic at times, at other times maybe not so great. Maybe it was a few stepped ahead too early on, with such deeply written back story and dozens of characters suddenly around, and perhaps not fully explained soon enough or it was possibly just all put together it the wrong way. Too much, too soon for DC.

Next up, we have a bold new SUPERMAN film. Have you seen the enigmatic trailer? Even with director Zack Snyder on board, it is being in some way produced by Chris Nolan, director of the BATMAN trilogy. It could still go in any direction, this new outing for the one from Krypton. It could look fantastic, but have just an extremely embarrassing script. Or not even that.

Now though, the long hoped for production of a potential DC JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, following on after the success of AVENGERS, could be so much more plausible and possible. Though after the GREEN LANTERN movie, with as much money as was poured into it, it does seem that DC and Warner Bros. are repeatedly nervous and consistently hesitant in the shadow of Marvel.

While DC would find problems of course, as a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie would at least have to include BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN and probably GREEN LANTERN it could, like many speculated over the AVENGERS be such a shambolic mess on screen. It is going to demand a new actor for BATMAN, possibly Ryan Reynolds returning as GREEN LANTERN-not a really bad thing, and lastly the choosing of an actor for the role of WONDER WOMAN. And like AVENGERS, JUSTICE LEAGUE could potentially open up space for an exceptionally wide narrative, their many regular locations and surrounding potentially there to be used and included.

Already with the GREEN LANTERN movie, which was probably one of the very most over -the-top and fantastical narratives to put on screen, DC attempted to create and put on screen the kinds of other worldly visions which could just be the beginning of what could be seen in an actual JUSTICE LEAGUE film.

Could it now all rest on the reaction and soon to be seen success or failure once again of their man of steel, SUPERMAN before we know for sure? The bigger news now was that DC/Warner Bros. do believe they might just put out a JUSTICE LEAGUE film in the very same year as the second AVENGERS movie. The strongest will survive.


So then, here we are a week or so after the release of the phenomenally successful AVENGERS ASSEMBLE movie was released (though sadly not in the US yet) and now, gradually more tiny pieces of gossip and info start to trickle out about the next few MARVEL related movies featuring the characters from this mighty film.

So then, it seems IRON MAN 3 is actually shooting this month if some reports are correct. DOWNEY Jr. just keeps bigging it up over and over, which is great but I certainly do not wish to fall back in dissapointment if the eventual movie will not match his hype. But then, after his boasts of AVENGERS, and the script there, he was actually thankfully very right. It most right was very awesome in a number of great ways.

What more can I say or should I say right now about the following hoped for movies featuring IRON MAN, HULK, CAPTAIN AMERICA and THOR? Well, with IRON MAN it does still seem to be largely that the script will originate from the EXTREMIS comic book series from just a few years ago which was very popular and interestingly contemporary and modern in the plot. This could be a slightly dissapointly thing though, as it could suggest a lack of classic and visually amazing villains for Shell Head to battle on screen. That said, many did not totally agree with how IRON MAN 2 balanced a number of colourful villains and heroes. Personally I see the slight unbalanced feel to the film, and regrettable AVENGERS over promotion, but I still really liked the overall film greatly.

CAPATAIN AMERICAN 2 is sounding like it will definately continue on in a present time setting, with CAP possibly still very much connected with NICK FURY and SHIELD in some adventure. There are many storylines possibly, but also many I feel that would most definately not work well for CAP.

With THOR 2, though so much could be done on such a stunning epic grand scale, as only seen in the first movie at several times, between earth sequences. A movie set in THOR’S home surrounding and further would really be so fantastic if handled well enough. I do think KENNETH BRANAGH should change his mind and return for directing duties once again, if he can bury his pride.

Yes, there definately could be some very outstanding MARVEL movies coming in the next five years or so, but then after THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, how are the rivals DC COMICS going to respond…?


Okay then, so last weekend I got to see the movie that I and so many others internationally have been anticipating for probably around three years at least. Already it seems to have made stunning box office cinema release weekend history financially, and that is hardly surprising.

Did it deliver us fans what we had all been hoping we might get? Did the promise of all of those superheroes crammed into one immense movie actaully manage to work well in the end?

My opinion is well…yes, and then some. Overall, my opinion is probably that yes it really did satisfy myself and so many others out there. It very much is a spectacularly huge movie, epic in all ways. There is really a lot going on in all directions. There is Thor’s half brother Loki plotting and returning, there are some mysterious alien enemies, then there are Black Widow, Nick Fury and Shield who begin to group together the other heroes-IRON MAN, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and the all new HULK. And then it just explodes. Well, alright it builds gradually in the first hour or so, but in it’s defence that, I believe is necessary and much needed. This is a monumentous occassion, is huge event for comic book movies, and MARVEL studios.

So, director and writer JOSS WHEDON-the man behind BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, FIREFLY, ANGEL, and the underrated DOLLHOUSE series has most certainly done us proud. Did I doubt he could pull it off? Well not him, but perhaps other elements could have ruined it. No, it is not absolutely perfect I will admit that. But…as far as superhero movies go, and the ones already out there, this one, this is the big one. This leaves the rest to stand speechless in amazement.

Much I as do like CAPTAIN AMERICA, in the comics and as a hero, this latest movie incarnation does still not totally impress me. I like the actor, really, he was probably much better in the criticised FANTASTIC FOUR movies I believe, but as CAP, I think he is miscast. Not completely bad choice, but could have been a more suitable actor I am sure. Again, as expected ROBERT DOWNEY Jr. is just fantastic, a totla joy to watch. He works very well alongside Chris Hemsworth as THOR, and the newly chosen Mark Ruffalo as our HULK. To some people, already it is being stated that LOKI possibly does steal the movie, and rightly is a very fine entertaining and manipulative villian, getting much better after his already pleasing turn in THOR last year.  

And so, AVENGERS the sequel? Oh yes, bet your battered old comic books, it is very much on its way and being planned and prepared right now. Definately given to money coming back in now. That movie, could even, potentially be something even more gigantically epic and awesome in perhaps just a few years. Before that, we will be getting IRON MAN 3-apparently begins filming this month, THOR 2, CAPTAIN AMERICA 2, and very likely a new HULK movie and possible BLACK WIDOW and HAWKEYE films even.

I most certainly am a very pleased maturing comic geek, and MARVEL has definately got a very busy time ahead right now.


With the all pervasive AVENGERS ASSEMBLE( Oh that title, woe) promotion everywhere-interviews, posters, the trailers amazing us daily from all directions, I have returned my personal interest back to the forgotten adventures that wait still for Stark in the IRON MAN 3 sequel due to be shooting in the next couple of months.

Not too much has be revealed of the plot at all so far-I’m quite impressed at the secrecy, or worried that the script is still yet unfinished-but there are of course as expected a good many rumours and suggestions from the corners of the internet, from fanboys and comic obsessives (which does include myself to some humble level).

the die-hard IRON MAN fans would so much love to see the all powerful MANDARIN villain of the comics challenge Tony Stark this time. MANDARIN is arguably IRON MAN’S biggest, most suitable very comic book villain who keeps returning  every few years and has had some of the most challenging, epic battles with IRON MAN through the history of the comic, and the off shoot titles.

Or would that be far too obvious? Just too easy and predictable for the filmmakers? There have been suggestions that the third movie will go more in the direction of the BOURNE series, and become much more like JAMES BOND, more espionage, detective work, perhaps like overblown and camp with the brightly coloured costumed characters.

There could be some unknown new villian or threat for Stark, totally created just for the movie, but that would be such a waste I would believe as there as so many really interesting and potentially fantastic villains from the history of IRON MAN to take up and use, as they did with WHIPLASH/CRIMSON DYNAMO in the second film.

And then with Tony Stark and IRON MAN, where can they go next? They examined the past and family/father-son relationship in the last movie, so in this third they might look ahead with Stark. I see it perhaps getting more tragic, a more sombre darkness falling over the tale after the huge colourful smash and clash of the AVENGERS movie before it this year.

I will remain waiting like a true comic nerd, hoping for the rumoured after credits extra at the end of THE AVENGERS to shed some light on the direction of the third IRON MAN movie.

‘Nuff said, for now…