Saturday, March 29, 2014

Justice League: War

Based on DC Comics' New 52 reboot and the first arc of the current Justice League series by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, Justice League: War isn't as awful as I suspected. It's not actually a good movie, but most of the issues here have to do with the source material itself rather than any mistakes in the adaptation into the film.

Replacing the missing Aquaman with Captain Marvel (Sean Astin), who I still refuse to call him Shazam, the storyline is basically intact as the various heroes of the Justice League come together to defeat Darkseid (Steve Blum) and the invading armies of Apokolips. As with Lee's original designs, everything looks and feels too muted including the super-hero costumes, particularly those of Superman (Alan Tudyk) and Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), that lack any pop. And although (thankfully) the film chooses to stay away from that awful yellow piping on the Flash's (Christopher Gorham) costume we saw at the end of The Flashpoint Paradox, Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) is still stuck with the unnecessary light-up pieces of his costume.

The attitudes of the character very much mirror the DC's current landscape as well as this feels less like a collection of the world's greatest heroes than the formation of a (kinda shitty) fraternity. Every character, with the exception of the Flash (who needs more screen time), seems to be trying to be a bigger dick than Batman (Jason O'Mara) while Superman goes all Man of Steel in neck-snapping mode and Wonder Woman jumps back-and-forth from impressive warrior princess to goo-goo-eyed teenager with a crush as the mood hits. Unbelievably Billy Batson actually comes off well comparatively, although he's still quite a tool (but not to the levels of the current unrecognizable comic incarnation of the character who actually shakes down civilians for cash after saving them).

Despite the financial success of the New 52, DC has taken flack (and not just from me) for the changes in design and personality of so many of its trademark heroes. Even many who have championed the DC reboot found this film difficult to watch (which is why it's taken me so long to agree to sit down and view it) which hasn't stopped the company from announcing more of the same is on the way. As the jumping off point for an entire series of interconnected films Justice League: War can't be seen as anything other than a disappointment.

Taking yet another step away from the Timmverse and the golden years of DC Animation, the company has settled on plowing ahead with the New 52 Universe in many of its upcoming features. It may be small consolation, but at least its better than a Marvel animated feature (which, given some of their recent output, is a pretty damn low bar to clear).

The only extra offered on the DVD is short behind-the-scenes feature on the next DC straight-to-video feature Son of the Batman (which I am curious to see). The Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack also includes behind-the-scenes featurettes on Jim Lee's designs and the recreation of the story from page to screen along with four episodes of various previous DC animated series: "Destroyer," "The Malicious Mr. Mind!," "Happy New Year," and "Earthlings."

[Warner Home Video, DVD $19.98 / Blu-ray $24.98]

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