Justice_League-WarWarner Premiere
2014
PG-13

“He’s good for a clean-up, at least.”

In Gotham City’s shadows lurks a mysterious figure, a silent guardian known only as the Batman. While battling crime and an ever-growing public distrust, he faces the injustices of the night alone. During a criminal pursuit, the Batman crosses paths with the arrogant intergalactic cop Green Lantern, and the unlikely duo uncovers an impending threat bigger and more deadly than anything the Earth has faced before. For the Earth to have a chance to survive, it will be a race to forge an uneasy alliance of its greatest super powers, including the Kryptonian alien, Superman; the Amazonian envoy, Wonder Woman; and the Scarlet Speedster the Flash. Along with newcomers Cyborg and teen super hero Shazam, this awesome assembly of the world’s finest are prepared to meet evil head-on and offer mankind its only hope, if they don’t self-destruct first!

Ever since DC/Warner Bros. started releasing the direct-to-video animated movies featuring the DC Comics superheroes back in 2007, I’ve been a regular fanboy. Up to now, pretty much everything I’ve watched has been top-notch; even when things weren’t firing on all cylinders, it was still high quality stuff.

Now, I watch the latest offering in the direct-to-video DC Universe movies–Justice League: War–and I find myself thinking that the quality of these movies have finally dropped considerably. A lot of it may have to do with the fact that Justice League: War is the first animated movie to be made after the departure of Bruce Timm. Pure speculation, but it does give me pause to think about that coincidence. But, that’s besides the point.

I do need to point out that, for those of you reading this unfamiliar, Justice League: War is the first video based in the so-called New 52 of the DC Universe. I’m not going to bore you with the details, and my working knowledge of that is very basic, from reading other comic book databases and websites (I stopped reading DC Comics titles about a year or two after the whole post-Infinite Crisis, post-52, post-One Year Later headache, where the continuity flopped around like a dying fish), and to say that the fan base has been split is an understatement. It’s been officially stated by the company that all future DC Universe animated movies will be based on the New 52 universe, and if Justice League: War is any indication of the kind of quality we’re going to get with the future releases, then…yeah, the future looks pretty disappointing.

The main point of contention here is simple: the characters are all wrong. It has nothing to do with the costume tweaks, either; the costume designs are fine (I actually rather like the Superman costume used here). No, by “the characters are all wrong”, I’m talking about their personalities. Superman is a smug, arrogant jerk who seems pretty flippant about collateral damage. Green Lantern is a straight-up douche bag dude-bro jerk, and after the first five minutes after he first appears, you begin to will Batman to punch him hard, fast and continually. Captain Marv…er, I mean Shazam (*groan*) is a mouthy brat. And Wonder Woman…ugh, don’t get me started. Let’s just say this iteration is not going to be much of an inspiration to young girls as a strong female role model. I believe the words “shallow” and “one-note” factor in there. Batman, Cyborg and The Flash were handled well here, but unfortunately they couldn’t really balance things out when it came to the character portrayals. Which means that, when it came to the first big throw-down against Darkseid, I was rooting for Darkseid. Even though even that characterization was completely wrong for the despot ruler of Apokolips. But, lest my fanboy ranting gets out of hand, I digress.

What it boils down to is, Justice League: War is like the Michael Bay movie of the DC Animated Universe. It has some very gorgeous animation, the action scenes were well shot, and things blow up good; but with the mischaracterization of the comic book icons, and voice acting that seems to have been phoned in for the most part, Justice League: War falls woefully short of its potential. Let’s hope that this is just an isolated stumble, and not a harbinger of things to come.

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