Directed by Matt Peters and Christina Sotta
Facing another attack from Darkseid, the Justice League strikes first and fails miserably. Now, two years later, the remaining heroes initiate a bold plan to defeat the forces of Apokolips and save Earth from destruction.
This was an amazing movie. The tone of this animated feature is so heavy and bleak in comparison to some of the other DC animated features out there. They themselves are not bouncy stuff but this was dark. But so very good. The heroes have failed. Darkseid (voiced Tony Todd) was ahead of them every step of the way. What was worse is he did not just kill them all but rather he twisted them into his own minions as a punishment. Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) and Superman (Jerry O’Connell) got it easiest but the Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman (voiced by Rosario Dawson), Mera, Hawkman, and Starfire are converted into nightmarish mechanical Furies mindlessly in the service of Darkseid. Cyborg (Shemar Moore) was probably the most disturbing of them all though. He was all bits and pieces integrated into the computers of Apokolips. Made me shiver.
This was an all-star DC cast of characters. Assorted members of the Green Lantern Corps. Swamp Thing. Batwoman. King Shark (voiced by John DiMaggio). And many more with most appearances being nonspeaking. This was an event animated feature that used everything but the kitchen sink from DC canon. They delved into their roster of characters yet did not beat you over the head with it. The appearance of a particular character served the story in some fashion. It was an organic outgrowth of the story and not just a moment of “Look here!”
I enjoyed the voice acting. As usual with these films it was very good. My only gripe is that I think they needed to do something with Tony Todd’s voice. Give him a reverb or something. I do not know. Tony Todd did not sound as menacing as he usually does. The man should be able to make the ingredients in cornflakes sound menacing but he just does not pull that off here. Something was off there, and I am not really sure what it was. He did good work, but something was missing to make it truly villainous.
This is called Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. “Dark” in the context of DC Comics implies a significant presence of magic in this story but the bulk of magic was just teleportation really and the story included a smattering of supernatural characters who were really just supporting characters. John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan) and Raven (voiced by Taissa Farmiga) were prominent fixtures in the story but not flinging too many spells. Maybe I am being picky. I just felt it needed a little more.
I enjoyed the animation but that goes without saying. DC animated movies look good. The action scenes are well choreographed and thrilling. And the characters were very expressive. It was direct to video, but it did not look cheap. I can only think of two DC films that I was not thrilled with their animation but I was also not thrilled with those films so there is that.
By and large the characters were forced to make genuinely difficult choices here. There were no easy answers to be found. This gave the story real emotion. There are shocking moments galore. Given the ending they could afford to do as they pleased with everybody.
I am a little conflicted on the ending because it seemed a little too easy and convenient but given when the “out/fix” came into the picture it does not exactly harm this story. It worked in the world they had created, and I am not against ending on a positive note. I guess I am saying I would have been just as good with the characters forced to deal with a devastated Earth but then that would have begged for a sequel but this is supposed to be the final DC animated feature in this series.
In the end Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a very good movie. The story pulls no punches and goes for broke. It is exciting and emotional. It is another fine addition to the DC animation library.
DC Showcase: Adam Strange
Directed by Butch Lukic
Adam Strange (voiced by Charlie Weber) waits on an icy mining planet for his next chance to get home while drinking himself into a stupor.
The short is thin on story. What we get are flashbacks revealing Adam Strange’s origin and what exactly his plight is. It is not bad but so much background info took up so much time from what should have been story.
The story plays a bit like Aliens. There are a bunch of bug like creatures seeking to just wipe people out. I am not knocking the creature menace portion here. It just reminded me of that film. What should have been done is given the character a story that explained him in the context of the narrative. Those he encountered were one off individuals unlikely to show up elsewhere. Alanna (voiced by Kimberly Brooks) is a long-standing character in his world who was only encountered in the brief flashbacks.
I liked the animation here a touch better than in the feature film. It was a cross between the Max Fleischer style begun in Batman: The Animated Series and the style of the newer DC features. It looked sharp.
Adam Strange was a passable entry into the DC Showcase library. It is not great but does not necessarily disappoint. It is a misstep in their short presentations of characters. Despite shortcomings you will enjoy. It just may not make a strong impression on you.