Movie Review: "Justice League: War"
- by Steve Garcia, 12 February 2014
While Marvel might have the big-budget blockbusters in the bag, DC has dominated the direct-to-DVD animated films department. The latest one of the ever-growing bunch, Justice League: War, kicked off a potentially new opportunity for a shared DC Animated Universe, much in the same way Paul Dini and Bruce Timm did all those years ago starting with Batman: The Animated Series. But how does it stack up, Trash Muties? Is this flick worth your time? Let’s take a look!
In the film, he just does his thing, and the audience is supposed to follow it, no questions asked. In Cyborg’s case, it’s acceptable because this film acts as his origin story, but for someone like Wonder Woman for example, a brief explanation on what Themyscira is or who the Amazons are would have been greatly appreciated.
Speaking of that comic-reading audience, I wasn’t exactly sure as to who this film was supposed to be for. DC animated films such as Green Lantern: First Flight, Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Superman Unbound were more or less intended for all ages, comic-readers and non-comic readers alike. While it’s hardly a spoiler for the movie, people calling Wonder Woman a whore, Green Lantern calling Batman a douchebag, and Cyborg cussing when something doesn’t go his way, doesn’t exactly scream “for the kids”. As I previously mentioned, if this is supposed to be for newcomers, they’re going to have many questions, but for the wrong reasons. It appears that this film was only for people that knew the source material, and them only… which isn’t a good thing. If this is supposed to be some sort of precursor to test the waters for a full-fledged live-action take on this story, they clearly have much more work to do. DC animation has proved that they can make the Justice League work years ago when the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini series first aired its pilot in 2001. If they did it once, they certainly can do it again.
But don’t think for a second that I hated this movie, because there are still some good things to be said! For one thing, the animation style this time around was leagues above the style used in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. It flowed nicely, all the characters were proportionate, and there was no use of offensively bad CGI. Despite the aforementioned lack of background information, it was fantastic to see a relatively unknown character like Captain Marvel gain the spotlight, and the chemistry between him and Cyborg was good enough to fuel a spinoff. Being that this will be the first of a (hopefully) long line of feature films, the use of a constant art style is very much welcome, especially if the plan is to keep this as a shared universe. The voice acting also deserves a massive shoutout, with Justin Kirk’s Green Lantern and Michelle Monaghan’s Wonder Woman being the clear standouts.
All in all, Justice League: War, despite its flaws, was enjoyable from a comic-reader’s standpoint, but could prove challenging to newcomers. The animation was proportionate and smooth and the voice acting was terrific, but the writing could have been cleaner concerning the main characters’ complex origins. If the New 52 Justice League tickles your fancy and you know enough about all the characters to not care about the pacing, I absolutely recommend you check it out as soon as possible. Otherwise, give it a rent or wait until it hits Netflix or the like. It was a great adaptation from the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee story considering the slight changes, and its after-credits scene absolutely had me craving hard for the sequel. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say there is a reason why Aquaman wasn’t in this movie!
Have you seen "War" yet? What are your thoughts on it? Sound off in the comments below!