Review Shooter: Justice League War
Justice League War is the 19th film in the DC Animated Original Movie line (we have no idea where JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time falls with regards to their official count), it is the 5th film to feature the Justice League, and oddly enough an origin story for the team. Or a version of the team. It is also the company’s first official adaption of a New 52 storyline. The film has a lot going on, but does it work?
The short of it is, it doesn’t. The movie is a massive mixed bag with elements all over the board.
1)Characters – Let’s start with the characters, most of which retain their New 52 characterizations, but those aren’t that great. Superman comes off as a bit of an arrogant dick. Green Lantern kind of comes off as an arrogant dick. Wonder Woman comes off as naive and arrogant. It’s weird when Batman has the most likable personality of the group. He’s pretty grounded, oriented on results and thinks with a level-head! It’s an odd twist and really not one that makes for a fun movie.
The rest of the cast is decent, but given so little to work with. The Flash is a cool character, but being removed from this film, nothing really would have been lost. This, to me, was the best version of Cyborg on screen to date even if we got there with a really ham-fisted origin that is both kind of out of place and makes him appear to be a lot more whiny than in the comics. Shazam is the wrinkle in this film as he is a new addition to the cast, and it kind of feels that way. He gets to flirt or try to flirt with Wonder Woman, and fanboy with Cyborg, but that’s pretty much the intent of his role. Like the Flash, I feel nothing on consequence would have been lost if they weren’t in the film.
2)Voice-Acting – I will say part of this is personal preference, but didn’t care for a lot of the voices. The ones that really stood out was Wonder Woman’s who just never seemed to jive well with the character. There is one ice cream moment that will leave most cringing. Superman seems a bit off as well, but not as bad. Darkseid’s voice was just different especially after years of Michael Ironside in the role.
On the plus side, I thought Cyborg’s voice really fit the character and was the best one to date.
3)Action – Easily the strongest part of the film. It takes a bit to get going, but once the action kicks in, the film really finds its groove. Whether its a pretty fun and fresh fight between Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern or the epic climax vs Darkseid, the fights in this film are something to see.
And they animate so beautifully with a lot of creative use of powers and new ways to tackle Darkseid.
4)Plot – Sadly, the action isn’t really held together with a solid plot. Like sure, it’s good guys team up to take on an alien threat, and that’s pretty much it. The stakes never really change nor does it try to do anything else with it. I guess keep it simple in action!
On the bright side, this film did make a few smart changes (and in some cases not so smart). First, they replaced Aquaman with Shazam. This works for two reasons, I found the Cyborg and Shazam interactions to be some of the best in the film. As you forget, they are both the “babies” of the team and does give them something to bond over. Secondly, it sets up a potentially fun Aquaman story that I won’t spoil, but if you read the New 52, you’ll have an idea.
On the downside, they removed the fun Superman vs Flash fight from the comic. Though extends the Batman vs Superman film just a bit. It also removes the Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor relationship, but we’ll get to that in a bit!
5)The Origin – I noted before, that it’s weird to make the 5th Justice League film an origin tale, and part of the reason is this doesn’t feel like an origin film. Much like the comic, it involves what eventually becomes the Justice League, but even by the end it doesn’t feel like the team is together. There’s nothing binding them to form this team they become either. They just teamed up to take down a big bad. Could go about their way now!
6)Romance – SPOILERS! In the New 52-verse, Superman and Wonder Woman become a couple. Since we know that’s where their interactions eventually lead, the movie decides to drop hints at their budding romances in this film. It comes off really cringe-worthy in this film. Their brief flirting feels so forced. In addition to that, you get Green Lantern hitting on Wonder Woman and calling dibs (though this part is taken from the comics) and the hormonal Shazam trying to hit on Wonder Woman. It all seems a bit juvenile!
7)Design – Finally, the look of the characters is pretty solid. It has some of my favorite animated design for these characters including Wonder Woman’s new costume, Darkseid’s giant appearance, The Flash’s streamlined design and as mentioned before Cyborg. Unlike Flashpoint Paradox, I don’t think the body proportions were too bad either. It all gelled well.
Score 4 (Out of 7) – This film has a lot of problems, but really held together by the action. Luckily for the film, the action takes over the back half of the film which allows it to end on a high-note. It is also sprinkled with a decent amount of humor and fine character designs. Not DC’s best, not the worst either!