What’s it About?
The world’s finest heroes found the Justice League in order to stop an alien invasion of Earth.
Directed by Jay Oliva
“Justice League: War “
8 out of 10
Ok, I’m going to get this out of the way, right out of the gate, “Justice League: War” was a pure fanboy adrenaline rush. From start to finish. It’s a geek-gasm that lasted the entire run of the movie. Am I biased as a comic book fan? Yeah, probably. Is the film perfect? Um, maybe not but I’d be hard pressed to come across anyone who likes their animated hero films fast and furious, to dislike this entry. At least not for very long.
Those looking for a wealth of exposition and back story on every JL hero in this re-telling, will be a tad disappointed. Honestly, the movie is called “War” not “War Story.” The film starts with the proverbial bang and ends with one and for 79 minutes the movie does not let up one iota.
“Man of Steel” storyboard artist Jay Oliva (Batman: Under The Red Hood, TDKR Parts 1 and 2, All Star Superman) capably steps in to direct this latest DC Animated film. Oliva, who brought us the previous JL adventure, “The Flashpoint Paradox,” continues his streak in delivering a solid comic book flick with a good eye for detail and his characters.
“War” is based on the reboot JL issues from DC, known as The New 52, written by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns (The Flash) and drawn by the iconic artist Jim Lee (Superman for Tomorrow, Batman: Hush). Having read the issues, which I found entertaining but flawed, I had pretty high hopes for any adaptation that may have come down the pipe. Heath Corson (Aim High) stepped in to write the film and does a commendable job at keeping the essence and spirit of these beloved heroes true.
“War” begins simply enough with the Green Lantern and Batman duking it out. Not after GL expresses surprise at Batman for actually being “real.” Corson’s writing includes plenty of witty, hip and smart banter that comes across fresh and contemporary. It seems that everyone’s favorite DC bad guy, Darkseid (Voiced by Steve Blum) has been leaving alien tech boxes around different parts of the world and even in Gotham.
Batman, on the trail of a “Parademon,” runs afoul of GL, and after they stop fighting each other, they eventually figure out there may be an imminent invasion of Earth by superior foes with superior firepower. The tech and Parademon are sent to Star Labs to be looked into by Silas Stone, father of college football player, Victor Stone. Victor, who after a freak accident with the alien hardware, is turned into Cyborg, with the help of Silas and his team along with some untested tech.
Oliva’s film explores, much like the comics do, the different divergent story-lines that introduce us to the heroes. Wonder Woman in Washington, acting as a political envoy (there is an exchange with a small girl involving ice cream that is quite cute) on her way to see the President. With her is Steve Trevor. At Central City, Barry Allen aka The Flash, is a CSI tech in touch with Silas trying to get to the bottom of the alien tech. In a funny and light moment, Barry has his lunch stolen by his co-workers.
Vic Stone, playing a rough game of Football, without his father present, meets a strange but spunky kid (who has a bigger part to play) who sneaks his way into the game. All of these parallel sequences help to establish the canon and history with respect and reverence for the characters. All in all they are pretty cool and fun to watch.
GL and Batman make it to Metropolis to find out how Superman fits into all of this and (after a huge fight between Supes, GL and Batman) when Darkseid eventually makes an appearance then the film takes off as all of the heroes must put aside their differences and get to know and trust each other in order to defeat Darkseid and his Parademons. Oliva’s “War” is brutally violent and full of the best kind of animated comic book action. There are exciting clashes, one after the other. Cyborg’s origin is savage and engaging. The Air Force One attack by the Parademons is truly breathtaking and merciless. The movie continues like that and never lets up. Wonder Woman and The Flash join Superman, Batman and GL to stave off the terra-forming that Darkseid is attempting. As a added bonus we get Shazam in the mix. Yes, you heard right. Shazam!
“War” excels in the animation and character designs as well. Favoring huge, muscular and bulky anatomy for the male heroes and wonderful curvatures for Wonder Woman, the heroes all look very impressive. The animation sports a nice anime flavor in certain action sequences and the flow of the background layouts with the moving animation is both absorbing and eloquent.
The remarkable mech and tech designs of Cyborg, the Parademons, Apokolips and even the various labs, weapons and equipment are all on great display here. When we do have time to catch our breaths and marvel at the animation, it is very well done and precise. My only gripe would be that the neck muscles on some of the heroes are a tad too huge and some faces just too freakishly broad, but I am nitpicking.
I enjoyed the heck out of “JL: War.” It has humor, action, epic fights and battles. The doses of casual swearing and animated violence are amazing and the film just flies by at a meager 79 minutes. There are enough superhero quips, one liners and “battle talk” for 3 other animated movies. Each hero has a “moment” where we cheer them on and when we do, we feel like a kid all over again.
I’m glad these recent DC Animated movies are in good hands and that they are being done with care and respect. Oh, and I must give kudos to the voice over cast. They all shine, here and I was impressed by how well the dialog flowed between characters. Oliva, Corson and cast all do remarkable work in this DC movie and I hope they keep up the great work. Recommended!
- Sean Astin as Shazam
- Zach Callison as Billy Batson
- Christopher Gorham as Flash / Barry Allen
- Justin Kirk as Green Lantern / Hal Jordan
- Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman
- Shemar Moore as Cyborg / Victor Stone
- Jason O’Mara as Batman
- Alan Tudyk as Superman
- Steven Blum as Darkseid