Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Ultimate Superhero List 5: "Justice League: War"

This is no joke.
Well, no more than usual.

Avengers Who?

      Justice League: War is a 2014 direct-to-DVD animated film based on the comic event Justice League: Origin. It's the beginning of a new series of animated DC films based in the New 52. Joy. Directed by Jay Oliva (The Invincible Iron Man) and written by Heath Corson (Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular), the film follows the creation of the Justice League. When supervillain Darkseid (Steve Blum) and his alien army invade Earth, still gritty Batman (Jason O'Mara), douchey Green Lantern (Justin Kirk), cartoony Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), bland Superman (Alan Tudyk), kid Billy Batson (Zach Callison) AKA Shazam (Sean Astin), forgettable Flash (Christopher Gorham) and a... thing named Cyborg (Shemar Moore) team up to fight the bad guys... I guess.

Yeah, right.
JV League

      Yeah, as you might have caught on with my introduction, I didn't particularly care about this film's versions of the classic DC characters. I mean, are these the ones they actually are making comics with? Batman is still as brooding and gritty as ever, though O'Mara can't quite get the voice right, resulting in Batman sounding like he swallowed a cheese grater for most of the movie. While going through puberty. Green Lantern is just a general jerk. About the time he calls "Dibs" on Wonder Woman is when any chance at redemption flew out the window. Wonder Woman acts almost as comic relief. While Batman and Green Lantern duke it out this aliens, Wonder Woman experiences ice cream for the first time. Yeah. Thankfully though, through stellar voice acting by Monaghan and Wonder Woman easily being the most bad-ass member of the League, Wonder Woman is the standout character in this new group. And yet, no live-action movie. Warner Bros. sucks at this.
      Superman, though, has largely nothing to do here. Neither does the Flash, but at least the Flash has some exposition to give out. Superman gets captured and then is barely seen for much of the movie. Shazam is fine, though all he has to do is throw inspiring compliments to Cyborg. Cyborg, by the way, is given an awful new origin tying him in with aliens and he receives a truly laughable new costume design as well. And here, big bad Darkseid is little more than a heavy, never seeming like much of a threat and an almost comical climax consisting of the Justice League literally just trying to shove Darkseid in a hole ruins the character's chances of being a threat ever again.

Justice League: Snore

      Ultimately though, the film's biggest problems can largely be found by looking towards it's runtime. At barely an hour and twenty minutes, the film is essentially one big fight scene, rarely taking a breather for introductions or character development. It's almost like a warning for Batman vs. Superman. The film rushes to introduce characters to please fans, without removing any action or give us a backstory. The characters personalities have changed and without an explanation, it makes scenes like, again, Green Lantern calling dibs on Wonder Woman even more infuriating. The film feels like it's relying entirely in developing the characters in their own separate films, but it makes this one just plain boring. We have no reason to care about the characters outside of "It's the Flash!". And unfortunately, the action isn't very good either and just becomes tedious after a while. This film is what we were afraid Avengers would be: one long fight scenes filled with undeveloped characters.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
The Verdict

      Justice League: War is the first film in a new animated continuity driven series for DC and it's a completely misfire. Terrible new versions of characters (Except for Wonder Woman!) fight it out in a bland fight scene that goes on for 80 minutes. Ugh, DC animated movies are usually pretty good. And I guess I am looking forward to this new series though. The last films were all varied, giving lesser DC characters chances to shine. And with continuity thrown in, this might just work out great, as long as they give all of their characters, big and small, a chance to shine. They've already announced two new movies in this line. I wonder who they'll be abou... oh, they're both about Batman. Well, way to fuck this up before it even started DC. Justice League: War gets 3 stars out of 6.

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