Justice League is a full-blown, expensive mess where some of our favorite superheroes battle an apocalyptic force while two seriously different directors, Zack Snyder and Joss Weldon, battle with their filmmaking styles. It’s no big secret that Zack Snyder (who created two execrable duds with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) had to leave late in production due to family reasons. Joss Whedon (The Avengers) stepped in for post-production and major reshoots. The resultant catastrophe is like a swig of boxed wine that has been left out in the sun for three weeks, chased with a big chug of Sunny Delight. Neither is a taste sensation you want in your face. The action picks up after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), with Batman (Ben Affleck) still brooding while observing Gotham being invaded by bug-like alien creatures. It turns out they’re the envoys of Steppenwolf, the very worst special effects/CGI bad guy you will see ever in a big budget blockbuster. To do battle with the otherworldly forces, Batman calls upon the likes of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and a resurrected Superman. Gadot still rocks as Wonder Woman in her every moment on screen, and Miller makes for a fun Flash. Affleck seems a bit tired of the Batman role. Momoa is just a wisecracker Aquaman, and Fisher is dreary as Cyborg. Cavill’s Superman is marred by some bad digital work involving the removal of a mustache he had during filming. His face is all messed up. It’s time to scrap everything but Gadot and Miller, and start the whole thing over.
4 MudboundDirector and co-screenwriter Dee Rees paints a bleak picture of post-World War II Mississippi in this performance powerhouse that showcases the talents of Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke and, most notably, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton). After the war, a traumatized Jamie McAllan (Hedlund) returns home to stay on a farm with his brother Henry (Clarke) and wife Laura (Mulligan). Ronsel Jackson (Mitchell) also returns to the farm but, while both men were regarded as heroes overseas, their return is fraught with alcohol abuse for Jamie and rampant racism from town folks toward African American Ronsel. Henry and Laura have problems of their own dealing with the troubled Jamie and Henry’s hateful father, Pappy (a sinister Jonathan Banks). This is one of those movies that you know won’t end well, and while Rees allows for occasional moments of relief, it is a mostly somber affair with a devastating finish. Mitchell continues to emerge as one of his generation’s best actors, while Hedlund does perhaps his best work to date. Both actors put full body and soul into their roles, and they create characters that definitely leave a mark. The always reliable Mulligan is great as the wife forced to live out her life on a muddy, flooded farm in order to appease her dopey husband. Clarke paints Henry as a man of little commitments and quiet reserve, the kind of guy you can’t depend upon in a fight. The movie is packed with stellar acting, and Rees does a solid job with the technical elements. (Streaming on Netflix during a limited theatrical run.)