All aboard….or not

I saw Justice League but also Murder on the Orient Express, starring a mustache. I required escapism from both, and  instead discovered meditations on grief, women stepping up, revenge, transformation, and forgiveness (as well as solving problems through ze little grey cells, gentle teasing, and extreme violence).

An early version of an alien wasp demon of Justice League.

No one needed this new version of Agatha Christie’s locked train mystery, but it’s here now. It’s uncomfortable, with the central drama based around exacting egg measurements but also mainly conspiracy to take revenge for the murder and abduction of a child. Of course the book and the film/s are based on headlines ripped from the Lindbergh case. I can imagine it was obvious when first published, yet it remains a strong enough reminder it distracted me. I prefer my fiction more fictional, even if the denouement is ridiculous.

Speaking of ridiculous, Justice League is a welcome contrast to Batman vs Superman.  The moments of humour and humanity lifted the film. It wasn’t the best DC effort, but it wasn’t the worst, even with two different directors. Thankfully, very little in this outing undid too much of Diana Prince’s agency or power, but a WW sequel would have been better. If there is one in the works you can skip JL entirely.

A star system: possibly where Justice League aliens came from, or where critical viewers may prefer to be.

While Barry as Flash didn’t save the earth, he probably did more to make the narrative less dour, even if Batman and Wonder Woman did the heavy lifting.

JL again confirmed why this iteration of Superman is my least favourite. He is DC’s WMD: a tightly wound embodiment of perfection encasing a seething mass of repressed anger and resentment. I question if the damage he does is worth his good intentions and ability to save the world from CGI alien-demons. Or I would bother to think more about this, but honestly, if the film makers aren’t why should I have to?

Original Steppenwolf and more realistic

The other problem with Orient was the cast, they are experienced actors and Big Names, but this was a bit distracting. It was like I was watching ‘for the acting’ rather than the story. I don’t get this with Marvel or DC films, I think partly because popular culture and/or Hollywood contracts makes their actors play their roles 24/7 for the rest of eternity.

So many recent films feature extra-judicial individuals dispensing decisions about justice in the place of official police or even militaries. At least however,  Hercule Poirot is not in fact Hercules, but a former police officer from Belgium. A part of me wants him to face Steppenwolf to see what would become of his grey cells then.

Speaking of JL’s big bad and his alien wasp demons. Annoying was my first reaction, but not in a satisfying villain kind of way. I know there must be all sorts of back story details from the comics, but little of this was in the film. I don’t get why a clearly non-human being has a German word for mountain wolf as a name. Did he read Herman Hesse?

I also really wanted more back story about the Boxes of Do-…blah, blah, even I am boring myself now.

JL had a good soundtrack. It’s like DC writers looked at Guardians of the Galaxy and Ragnarök and said, sure team work, but more importantly: tunes. Orient Express I guess had a soundtrack, but it was of train noises and wintry gales through mountain passes. Take a blanky to the cinema.

If you want to dodge Jedi related films Orient Express is pretty, and there is something verging on cathartic about the central crime that makes me – let me repeat this word – uncomfortable. But the 1930s version of racism, class-ism and other isms are also not about comfort, even when we’re all aboard a luxurious train. Closeups on comical facial hair do not help.

Alternatively, go see The Last Jedi, like I will soon. Or watch Only Lovers Left Alive by Jim Jarmusch. It’s my holiday version of Love Actually but featuring more empathetic interactions between characters, and with a much better soundtrack.

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