Our very own Justice Leaguers
KRIPOTKIN - Alfred A. Yuson (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2017 - 4:00pm

Friendship over the years with local Warner Bros. bossman Bookie Soliven has led to so many engagements with blockbuster movies that I feel I already owe him a lifetime of iMAX privileges.

During earlier years as an MTRCB member, the luxury went beyond getting to preview terrific films days or weeks before their regular screenings. I also got to participate in these reviews right at my own backyard, at the Warner Brothers’ office at Ortigas Center, which came with its own preview room.

Those were the days when the matter of preserving anti-piracy security over special films allowed distributors to have the MTRCB reviews conducted in their premises. Among these distributors of foreign films were Warner Bros., Columbia (which had its office at one end of the 5th-floor parking lot of Shangri-La EDSA Plaza Mall), and Solar (at a building on Shaw Blvd.)

All of these mini-theaters were a brief drive from my place, so that whenever luck of the draw got me into the three-person review committee, it saved me the long drive to our MRCTB quarters in Quezon City, as well as the obligation to also screen local TV fare for classification.

Eventually, when the MTRCB had its own preview theater with something like a digital lock-in arrangement that did away with physical film reels, the practice of previewing in private theaters came to a stop.

But thanks to Bookie, Warner Bros. continued to invite me for preems, whether or not I was part of a review and classification committee. It helped to have a daughter who wasn’t only big on blockbuster series and their attendant lore, but could also write reviews on such.

So when it was an invite for an iMAX event at distant MOA, and I had to balk after considering the travel time, my daughter and her date soon moved up from being initial proxies to regular invitees for cocktails and preems. 

Still, on some occasions I also made it, so I still recall how our party of four, with a granddaughter as my date, enjoyed memorable screenings of The Hobbit, Independence Day 2, Man of Steel and The Dark Knight. Apart from the cocktails that preceded the press screening or premiere, there were photo ops to be had with the cosplaying characters.  

Even when I was replaced at MRTCB on account of political alienation, our friend Bookie continued with the invites, despite the fact that my daughter and I were often preempted from rendering reviews on these pages whenever we got beaten to it by Philippine STAR stalwart Scott Garceau.

It never stopped Bookie from issuing invites. Of late, much to my gratification, these have mostly been to the iMAX theater of nearby SM Megamall. That’s where we saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the summer hit Wonder Woman. And last Wednesday, the much-awaited Justice League.

Now, I’m aware that early reviews have marked it out as a supposed “jagged mess.” I don’t know, I’m quite mystified, as I can honestly say that I enjoyed all that riveting action, never mind the brooding episodes mostly engendered by Batman (Ben Affleck).

Sometimes I wonder if well-informed reviewers have already dug in too deep into the proverbially overmatched qualities of blockbuster series films based on the comic-book heroes aligned with either DC Comics or Marvel.

 I can only look forward a more learned reviews by buddy Scott Garceau, who certainly knows his film and comics lore. All I know is that Tony Stark and The Avengers have been imbued with more light and levity by director and screenwriter Joss Whedon, while DC’s director Zack Snyder has been constantly pilloried for his “dark” scene-setting. Well, I tend to agree, particularly with regard Batman v Superman.

And the early reviewers may have something on the bipolarity of Justice League, which had Snyder starting out as the director, but with Whedon taking over to infuse the film with his trademark throwaway quips.

Basically, the story is tried-and-true, if long overdone, with a team of super-heroes with assorted powers and skills assembled to save humanity from the murderous intent of a super-villain — in this case the gigantic Steppenwolf who has succeeded in retrieving three mythical boxes that together spell destruction. 

And so we’re treated to Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) as a tag team taking on the powerful Steppenwolf, with The Flash (Ezra Miller) providing cuteness and comic relief, while Cyborg (Ray Fisher) supplies gizmo genius. And much as his skills are the least appreciated, it’s the ageing, perennially brooding Batman who has the wherewithal to get the team together.

When The Flash naively asks about his powers, Batman simply acknowledges, “I’m rich.” And when he gets into a delicate, personal argument with Wonder Woman, and makes the mistake of mentioning her long-lost lover, the dark knight receives a body blow that sends him reeling backwards.

Steppenwolf has his own minions, the Parademons, which look like sturdily evil, buzzing dragonflies, one of whom serves as an air surfboard for Aquaman in his best scene. Other than this, it’s quite inexplicable for Aquaman to be performing his power stunts away from water, while still relying on what I suppose we should call a quintadent (unlike a trident, it has five tines).

Repeatedly asked by Batman if he talks to fish, Aquaman (who’s a deadringer for center Steve Adams of the Oklahoma Thunder, except more heavily tattooed and with what sounds like a Kiwi accent) says he talks to water. Well, there is a scene where his power over liquids serves the yet undermanned league in good stead.

And here comes the spoiler, which really shouldn’t be considered such, given the advance promo knowledge on how the Justice League still needs Superman to beat back such a formidable opponent as Steppenwolf. Can Lois Lane be far behind to help refresh his memory? 

“I’m for the truth, but I’m also for justice,” intones he-who-has-been-resurrected. And it’s at that point where I begin to think, as an action-romp aficionado that seeks no salvation from metaphysical questions — mostly as propounded by the super-rationalist Batman — that any next feature pitting the Justice League against their possible counterparts as assembled by Lex Luthor might do better if it’s Batman who takes his turn under a tombstone.

My fantasy need not end there. It can go local, especially when we’re on the invaluable riding-in-tandem subjects of truth and justice. Why not a Pinoy Super League led by Bernardo Carpio, who breaks out of the mountain grip of injustice, and assembles Ibong Adarna, Siokoy, Tikbalang, and for good measure, Tambaloslos?

We’re all for the truth, they can all say, before they combine their mythical powers against the devilish construct of a self-imposed revolutionary government. Why, Ibong Adarna can lift Tamboloslos and pound away at the dark untruth with ever-defiant, contemptuous bollocks.

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