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Friday, March 21, 2014

Justice League: War Review


The first arc of The New 52's Justice League will always hold a special place in my heart. If it wasn't for this big reboot, I wouldn't have been reading DC comics on a modern basis. The New 52 was a gamble, because while it did open a gateway for new readers, it risked the chance of alienating longtime fans. Fast forward three years later, and it looks like it's been a success. Flashpoint was adapted into a movie not too long ago, and the after-credits scene gave us the indication that The New 52 will be the standard for DC animated movies to come. War takes some liberties, but for the most part captures the essence of the comic, even improving on a few aspects.

The story is the origin of the Justice League. When an alien invasion hosted by a malevolent being threatens the Earth, the world's super beings must unite. Character portrayals was one of the things hotly debated when The New 52 launched. Some were great, (Cyborg) and some not so great. (Superman.) For better or worse the portrayals pretty much match their comic counterparts. Batman is by far the best character, even beating his comic book appearance. He's the leader here, and really the star, just as with the first arc. Green Lantern is somewhat annoying, but to a much lesser extent than his comic self. In fact, a lot of his comic relief scenes were actually funny.

I never liked Superman's New 52 portrayal, and still don't. He was made into trying to be an 'edgy' version of the character, and the writing ends up being more obnoxious than anything. It doesn't help that the costume used here is terrible. The comic version looks much better. (Seriously, it's by far the worst Superman look I've ever seen.) Still, I'm glad they got his strength nailed. The now classic scene in the comic where he pulverizes Batman and Green Lantern was one of the best scenes in the film. If he and Batman were to fight for real, chances are this is how it would go down. (Superman completely obliterating him.) Wonder Woman got a lot of action to herself. In fact, she may have looked the best out of the characters power-wise. I personally love her costume, I'd say it's one of the better redesigns in recent years. My complaint with her from the comic was that her dialogue was a bit cardboard. She's definitely more fun here. Despite the rather cheesy ice cream scene, she was solid.

One problem was the inclusion of Shazam. He DOES NOT belong. He was NOT in the original story, Aquaman was. Seriously, Shazam could have been written out. He's supposed to be up there with Superman in power, but out of the characters he gets pummeled by Darkseid the most. Not to mention that Billy Batson is a jerk. He's like that in the comic, so technically it's a faithful portrayal. Doesn't make him any less unlikable. The Flash is pretty normal, just like his comic self. He sadly doesn't really contribute anything besides taking out Darkseid's other eye, which I suppose makes up for his lack of doing things. Cyborg was a surprise inclusion for the story back in the day. It's hard to picture him anything other than a Teen Titan, but it works. He's one of the best written characters in the movie, and despite a limited time his emotional story with his father is fully realized.

Darkseid was an immense disappointment in the original comic. He barely had any lines and was more of a brute than tyrannical mastermind. He was basically just a big obstacle. This was definitely fixed in the movie. While he may not be as well written as his DCAU counterpart, he was for the most part solid. Steven Blum voices him, but it's hard to tell since his voice was covered with a lot of robotic overtones. Nonetheless, it's hard to not call his voice cool. Alan Tudyk as Superman doesn't fare as well sadly. He didn't sound like Superman, and it seems like he was literally just reading lines off a paper without getting into character. Jason O'Mara as Batman was pretty solid, I don'r mind that he'll be sticking around for future films. Everyone else is pretty good, beyond Superman there's no real complaints to be had with the voice acting.

There's a lot of action throughout. In fact, this one may have the most action out of any DC animated movie. Most of it is against Darkseid's minions, and those things kept coming. The climax with Darkseid was good. Since Superman was out of the game, it was interesting seeing the heroes struggle against the monster. Wonder Woman was the power hitter, though sadly Shazam did almost nothing other than power-up the Mother Box. Again, he just didn't belong and felt shoehorned in. The soundtrack is solid, it's pretty much what you'd expect. There's no standout themes, they just simply blended into the scenes they were in.

Overall, Justice League War is a fun film and pretty solid adaption of the original comic. It doesn't reach the greatness of a good majority of other DC animated movies, such as Superman: Doomsday, Batman: Under the Red Hood, The Dark Knight Returns, and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, but it's worth a watch whether you like the characters, read the original story, or never even seen or read anything DC related.

4/5

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