Justice League (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 14-Mar-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Deleted Scenes-The Return of Superman
Featurette-Road to Justice
Featurette-Heart of Justice
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Technology of the Justice League
Featurette-Justice League: The New Heroes
Featurette-Steppenwolf the Conqueror
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scene Studies: Revisiting the Amazons
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scene Studies: Wonder Woman's Rescue
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scene Studies: Heroes Park
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scene Studies: The Tunnel Battle
Featurette-Suit Up: The Look of the League
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 120:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Zack Snyder
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ben Affleck
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Gal Gadot
Ezra Miller
Jason Momoa
Ray Fisher
Jeremy Irons
Diane Lane
Connie Nielsen
J.K Simmons
CiarŠn Hinds
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Danny Elfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Greek
Polish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mid credits scene

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Plot Synopsis

††† The good news is that 2017ís Justice League is not the downright disaster that many of us were anticipating, given the considerable behind-the-scenes reshuffling and the slipshod quality of its immediate predecessor, 2016ís Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is a bit of a mess, the narrative is too simplistic, and itís not a home run by any stretch, but itís also not altogether unappealing either, as Zack Snyder - and Joss Whedon - avoid the gloomy self-seriousness which has thus far characterised the DC Extended Universe. The action sequences are rousing, and there are enough goosebump-inducing moments of pure big-screen coolness that audiences will expect to see within an expensive blockbuster entitled Justice League. But whatís missing is all the connective tissue - the movie plays out like a highlight reel, with the bare minimum of explication and character beats. Forget about any sort of thematic undercurrents or emotional resonance; fast-paced spectacle is the order of the day.

††† With Superman (Henry Cavill) now dead, the Earth has become vulnerable to diabolical forces. A god-like being known as Steppenwolf (CiarŠn Hinds) rises in the aftermath, planning to use three powerful Mother Boxes to rule the universe, aided by an army of vicious Parademons. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) seeks to amass a team of heroes to defend the world, with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) warning him of the potentially devastating effects of Steppenwolfís plan. Using all available information at his disposal, Wayne tracks down Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), hoping to unite them and prevent Steppenwolf from eradicating humankind. But even their combined superpowers may not be enough, prompting the newly-formed Justice League to explore the potential to bring Superman into the fight before itís too late.

††† Even though Snyder is the sole credited director on the project, The Avengers helmer Whedon was recruited to oversee extensive rewrites and reshoots late into post-production, and received a co-writer credit for his efforts. Evidently, Whedonís job was to lighten the tone, bringing a more pronounced sense of humour to the production whilst retaining Snyderís proclivity for brutal, explosive action sequences. Previous DCEU movies have been criticised for lack of humour, with Batman v Superman in particular emerging as dour beyond belief, and Justice League endeavours to course-correct the franchise, with jokes and laughs scattered throughout. Though certain moments do work (such as an amusing aside during which Aquaman sits on the Lasso of Truth), other gags just come across as forced (see the awkward joking around after the climactic action sequence). Indeed, donít expect Whedonís best work, especially given that he didnít have a great deal of time to hone the best possible script. In addition, Justice League is completely hollow, with nothing in the way of poignant emotion. There is a contrived aside in which a family get the spotlight and are rescued during the climax, but it feels too perfunctory and makes no impact.

††† Itís evident that Warner Bros. only really cared about two things whilst trying to salvage Justice League in the editing room: keeping it at two hours in length (narrative coherence be damned), and carving out at least a workable movie thatís jam-packed with colourful action scenes. Itís also evident that Justice League was initially intended to be more in line with Batman v Superman from a tonal standpoint before the studio got Whedon involved. (Itís not hard to see why Whedon probably didnít want a directorial credit on the finished movie.) A new trailer was seemingly released every couple of hours, and therefore a lot of footage seen in the marketing materials did not make it to the finished movie. Indeed, it appears that Warner Bros. chose to deliberately excise any plot details that may have initially existed to set up future storylines - case in point: it seems that Steppenwolfís plan could be a precursor to something more significant, like Darkseid who was initially rumoured to be part of the movie and was ostensibly set up in Dawn of Justice, but the storyline as it is seems deliberately standalone in case the studio nominates a different direction in the future. (The post-credits scene does imply another direction entirely.) Hell, Justice League doesnít even provide any payoff to the time-travelling Flash, or to Batmanís nightmares from Batman v Superman.

††† Despite being hidden in the majority of the marketing materials, of course Superman makes his return here, but the Man of Steelís resurrection is one of the biggest missed opportunities of the movie. Rather than taking a page from the ďDeath of SupermanĒ arc (which would make sense, given that he fought Doomsday in Dawn of Justice), Justice League finds the heroes using the Mother Boxís powers to bring Superman back from the dead, and the resultant action set-piece of a confused Kal-El running amok is seriously awkward. In addition, the subplot feels too throwaway when it should be more significant, further demonstrating that squeezing so much material into one two-hour movie was a bad idea. It would have been more interesting to see Superman don the iconic black suit and battle the rest of the Justice League for real. Maybe this was actually explored in an earlier cut, and perhaps there was more to this subplot before the studio took a hatchet to the movie to keep it under two hours sans credits. Whatever the case, it feels like Justice League is rushing through plot points in order for the franchise at large to move on. The film was initially intended to be split into two parts, and thereís certainly enough material for two motion pictures to cover.

††† When Justice League gets into an agreeable groove, it works like gangbusters, providing plenty of lively action as the superheroes throw down against Steppenwolf and his Parademons. If nothing else, Justice League gets the characters right for the most part (more on that later), with perhaps the most definitive big-screen portrayal of the Caped Crusader to date (the costumes are dead on). Shot on 35mm film by cinematographer Fabian Wagner (Game of Thrones), the movie is actually presented in an expanded 1.85:1 aspect ratio, meaning that thereís more to absorb in every frame of the movie. However, the cartoonish CGI is admittedly squiffy from time to time, lacking in tangibility. The digital removal of Cavillís moustache looks amateurish at best, while the digitally-created Steppenwolf often resembles something from a video-game cut-scene. Some sequences are enormously impressive, to be sure, but thereís no consistency, which can probably be attributed to the reshoots and the rushed schedule to meet the longstanding, predetermined release date. For a major motion picture this expensive (a staggering $300 million before promotional costs, reportedly), itís disheartening to behold such sloppiness. On a more positive note, bringing in composer Danny Elfman (to replace Junkie XL) proves to be one of the most welcome creative decisions of the entire production, as his score is more on the playful side as opposed to downright serious. Elfman even incorporates some notes from his 1989 Batman theme to nice effect.

††† Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman have been properly introduced in the DCEU at this point, but Justice League is tasked with introducing Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash to the franchise (their previous tiny cameos donít count), giving the movie plenty of baggage to work through. Thereís just no getting around the fact that these heroes deserved their own solo flicks prior to Justice League, just as the standalone Wonder Woman should have been released prior to Batman v Superman. As for the thespians themselves, itís...mostly good news. Affleck continues to impress as this older interpretation of Batman, and Gadot is still a charismatic treat. Itís certainly a real thrill to see Gadot back in action as Wonder Woman so soon after the release of her solo feature. However, Miller is a terrible Flash, playing the hero as a whiny, irritating, weightless Millennial stereotype, while Fisher doesnít have much screen presence, though that could likely be attributed to the lack of a meaty introduction. Momoa is fine, some cheesy dialogue aside, and Cavill is welcomely more upbeat here as Superman. Hinds does what he can with the material, but Steppenwolf is still a bit of a dud villain. Nevertheless, it is commendable that Snyder and co. elected to use a villain who hasnít previously featured in a live-action movie.

††† When Justice League works, it really works, providing breathtaking visual delights throughout, ensuring that the target audience will walk away happy. Itís an entertaining ride, if nothing else. But since we donít yet know all of the primary characters intimately enough, the film is not as gratifying as it could have been. In addition, the movie is undeniably pared-down to the bare essentials - basically, anything that isnít a joke, a character striking a dramatic pose for marketing materials, or a big action scene...didnít make it to the final cut. Extended cuts have become somewhat customary for the DCEU, as both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad received beefed-up editions on home video, and it would certainly be intriguing to see what could be done with Justice League with more story development and character interaction. Even more promising, though, is the prospect of a sequel, with (hopefully) a more carefully-written screenplay and a better fleshed-out team.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Debuting on Blu-ray courtesy of Roadshow Home Entertainment, Justice League is presented in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition, framed at 1.78:1, which is open matte (it therefore fills an entire widescreen television). No surprises here - Justice League is another Warner Bros./Roadshow special, with the movie being mastered at a disappointing average bitrate of 22 Mbps. Especially since there is more screen real estate for the encode to handle than a letterboxed motion picture, the compression is all the more disappointing. And that's not taking into account the fact that there's a fair bit of unused space on this dual-layered BD-50 which could have accommodated a higher bitrate. But again, such shortcomings are almost to be expected at this point. Justice League was mostly shot on 35mm film and partially shot digitally, and was completed with a 2K digital intermediate according to IMDb. The source is presented here warts and all, but there's no getting over the fact that this one should look better despite the format's inherent limitations. (Thank goodness for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray alternative.)

††† The 1080p presentation looks generally good on the whole (much better than a DVD), and there are standout scenes which shine more than others. Close-ups generally reveal a fair amount of fine detail on faces, while medium shots of the central heroes bring out details on their costumes and/or armour. More brightly-lit scenes fare best, such as Bruce talking to Alfred at the 67-minute mark, though certain darker sequences - such as the opening - manage to maintain respectable texturing. Even Steppenwolf looks impressive in close-ups, with textured skin thanks to the competent VFX work. In addition, during the transfer's best moments, it looks respectably sharp. Grain is thankfully kept in-tact, though this does make the smoother-looking digitally-shot scenes stand out all the more. (Wouldn't digital grain be useful to balance out the visuals in these moments?) Although I did detect a bit of banding here and there, I couldn't see any macroblocking, aliasing or any other encoding anomalies. I also saw no signs of unnecessary digital tampering like edge enhancement.

††† However, the severe compression is still noticeable, and certain scenes fare worse than others. Steppenwolf's introduction on Themyscira looks noticeably unrefined and soft, while colours are overly muted - and not in a stylistic way. Clarity in such scenes is hit-and-miss, with grain alternating between well-resolved and blocky. In other moments, the presumably digital photography looks too smooth and even a tad smeary - see the scene of Bruce and Diana chatting by the water at the 35-minute mark. Wide shots fare the worst in this scene, as the transfer struggles with object delineation and finer textures. Details are also less apparent in darker scenes throughout the movie, such as the tunnel battle, while the underwater sequence at the 44-minute mark is a touch murky. Other shots look soft, which appears to be a fault of the encode since the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray looks noticeably better in this respect. Colours look mostly true to how the movie was originally screened at the cinema, though skin tones occasionally look too orange and, as previously stated, certain moments take on a washed-out appearance. In short, the transfer unfortunately often looks closer to a Netflix or iTunes stream, as opposed to a top-notch Blu-ray presentation.

††† The shortcomings of the transfer may not be as apparent on a smaller screen, and less finicky viewers will probably be satisfied enough, but on my 65" OLED TV, I couldn't help but bemoan the consequences of the overzealous compression. Hundreds of millions of dollars was spent creating Justice League, and this standard Blu-ray simply cannot do full justice to the visuals. At least there's a 4K Ultra HD alternative, which boasts tighter textures, stronger colours and more refinement in just about every aspect.

††† Subtitles are included in English (for the hearing impaired), Italian, Spanish, Greek and Polish. I had no issues with the English track, which is well-formatted and free of errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Rather than unnecessarily downgrading the audio for the standard Blu-ray release like some studios (Sony...), Justice League arrives on disc with a Dolby Atmos mix that will play as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track if your equipment cannot decode Atmos. As with other Warner Bros. titles, the disc also contains an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which the disc actually defaulted to on my equipment - so be sure to select Atmos from the Audio submenu if it means that much to you. The Atmos track, which is the preferred way to watch Justice League, is a winner from almost every angle. Whereas Disney's recent release of Thor: Ragnarok was spoiled by compressed audio, no such issues are encountered here - Justice League's audio is aggressive, rich, layered and crisp. The frequent action scenes benefit from bombastic sound effects as the subwoofer roars to life, while Steppenwolf's voice sounds deep and intimidating. The soundscape is immersive, with panning and placement effects being used during the major set-pieces (see any shot of Parademons flying around), while Danny Elfman's soundtrack comes through every available channel. Subtle environmental ambience is also included, such as the team aboard Bruce's craft at the 89-minute mark.

††† Thanks to smart lossless encoding, the audio is crisp and crystal clear, with no apparent muffling. None of the action sequences will leave you feeling underwhelmed by the audio. The only shortcoming of the track is that dialogue is occasionally mixed too low or sounds a bit weak, but it's not a huge deal and such instances aren't frequent. Thankfully, I never detected any pops, clicks or drop-outs throughout the presentation - it's smooth sailing across the board. It's worth pointing out that the 5.1 mix sounds much the same, but the Atmos track is a bit more layered. There are a few additional audio tracks in different languages, but I was only concerned with the Atmos mix for the purposes of this review. Say whatever you will about the quality of the movie or the visual effects, but the sound mix is state-of-the-art.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† For those of you who were wondering, no, the reshoots are not covered and Joss Whedon is never even mentioned. At once, there are more featurettes than the typical Marvel Blu-ray package, but Marvel movies do have audio commentaries, outtakes and other odds and ends. Despite everything included here, there's a missed opportunity for a beefy documentary covering the production, with all the reshuffling and problems that were encountered along the way. Perhaps we'll see something more in-depth at some point in the future.

The Return of Superman (HD; 2:04)

††† Anybody expecting mountains of new footage is going to be disappointed. Despite the ample additional footage that was known to be shot and was shown at test screenings, there are only two scenes here. Both of these are worthwhile, and it's a bit baffling that they were cut - though the latter was probably excised to make Superman's appearance at the end more impactful.

Road to Justice (HD; 14:10)

††† The first featurette on the disc is concerned with the history of the Justice League across the various comic book incarnations, video games, animated media, toys, and so on. Several comic book writers and artists chime in to discuss how the League has evolved in the comics, leading up to the 2011 "New 52" relaunch, and the animated Justice League movies are also touched upon. 2017's Justice League is covered in the last few minutes, with behind-the-scenes footage intercut with cast and crew interviews. The absence of director Zack Snyder is felt, though I suppose it's hardly surprising given that he left the project in post-production due to personal reasons.

Heart of Justice (HD; 11:52)

††† This segment zeroes in on the central characters who represent the heart of the Justice League, with cast and crew discussing the characters of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The featurette goes into the comic book Death of Superman arc, and there's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage showing the actors on-set in costume.

Technology of the Justice League (HD; 8:14)

††† More of an EPK-style featurette with omnipresent voiceover to walk us through everything, this segment is all about the technology used by the Justice League in the movie, with a special focus on the vehicles and on Cyborg. The production design is touched upon and the visual effects required to bring everything to life are briefly covered, though not in any great detail. This is enjoyable enough, but undeniably fluffy.

Justice League: The New Heroes (HD; 12:24)

††† Actor Ray Fisher (who played Cyborg) walks us through the three new heroes that are introduced in Justice League: Cyborg, Aquaman and The Flash. Each of the three is given its own segment in the featurette, with interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and comic panels to delve into the characters. Again, this feels overly fluffy, and was visibly designed for online promotion (especially with Fisher's over-the-top delivery - he even says he can't wait to see the movie), but this is still worthwhile enough.

Steppenwolf the Conqueror (HD; 3:03)

††† As implied by the title, this next featurette is dedicated to the primary villain of the movie, Steppenwolf. His comic book origins are covered, as well as his connections to Darkseid and the way he is portrayed in the movie. However, the motion capture process and the VFX are not discussed, which feels like a wasted opportunity.

Scene Studies (HD; 15:16)

††† Four featurettes are included under this submenu which delve into specific set-pieces. These can either be watched individually, or via a "Play All" function.

Suit Up: The Look of the League (HD; 10:21)

††† Probably the best featurette on the disc, this is a decently in-depth look at the designs for each of the central heroes. The costume designer walks us through the concept artwork and how each of the outfits were made. Even Cyborg is covered, showing how he was built in a computer. As ever, I wish this was longer, but it's an informative featurette nevertheless.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Supplemental content on all editions worldwide is identical. It's a draw. Buy local.

Summary

††† Justice League is a step in the right direction for the DCEU, but it's a far cry from what it had the potential to be. Marvel's The Avengers is still the best superhero team-up movie to date. I would be interested in seeing a Justice League sequel with a stronger foundation, but considering the movie's disappointing box office returns, it's not clear when - or if - Warner Bros. will attempt any follow-up.

††† Roadshow's Blu-ray presentation is respectable, with perfectly serviceable video and an excellent Dolby Atmos mix that won't leave any audiophiles unsatisfied. I wish there were more extras, but what's included is still of good quality. This is a worthwhile Blu-ray package on the whole, but considering the polarising reception to the movie, this is a try before you buy situation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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