Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What's On Netflix?: JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR

Welcome to another installment of WHAT'S ON NETFLIX?, where we pick out a film currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans.  This week's selection is the DC animated film...JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR.

Back in 2007, Warner Bros. Animation released the first of a new line of DC Comics inspired animated films, Superman: Doomsday, which told the iconic story of Superman's Death at the hands of Doomsday.  Over the last nine years 25 different films have followed, including tales about Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and more.  Then, in 2013, DC released a very ambitious film leading into their version of New 52, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.  The events of that directly led into a new series of films, with all the same cast and sharing the same continuity, and the first of that series was Justice League: War.

Based on the first 6-issue story arc of the New 52 Justice League comics, collectively titled Justice League: Origin, this film takes us on a visual journey into the beginnings of the new League.  We get to see how Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Superman, Cyborg, and Shazam all came together to form one of the greatest superhero teams ever created, and together they must defeat the powerful Darkseid and his legion of Parademons before their world is destroyed.


Directed by comic book animation veteran, Jay Oliva, Justice League: War shares a similar tone with some of the more recent DC animated features.  Oliva previously directed several DC animated movies including Justice League: The Flashpoint ParadoxBatman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 & 2Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and even several episodes of the great DC animated television series, Young Justice.  Since Justice League: War, Oliva has directed Batman: Assault on Arkham, Batman vs. Robin, and Batman: Bad Blood.  He also worked on some marvel animated films in his earlier days such as Next Avengers: Heroes of TomorrowDoctor Strange, and The Invincible Iron Man.

Being a huge DC fan, I was really excited when I found out they were doing a movie based on the New 52 Justice League.  It's one of my favorite series from the reboot and Geoff Johns wrote it brilliantly.  It connects nicely to Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox just as it did in the comics.  But, just like every comic book adaptation, some changes were made.

The biggest and most obvious change was the use of Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel) in the place of Aquaman.  Shazam did have a backup story in the issues of Justice League, but was not part of the main story.  The reason the studio gave for this decision was to give Shazam a role in the upcoming New 52 animated continuity and also because they had plans for Aquaman's origin to tie in later, as seen in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.


There were a few smaller changes made as well, like changing the name of the 'Fatherbox' to the 'Motherbox', having Shazam be the comic relief instead of The Flash, and adding a scene where Superman kills someone (which doesn't happen in the scene in the comic).  This particular scene actually shocked me when I first watch it, especially since there was so much controversy over him killing Zod in Man of Steel.  I didn't mind it happening, I was just shocked.  They also skipped over Shazam's entire origin, which, as I said, worked as a backup story in the comics.  Other than that, the story kept pretty well to the source material.

The voice acting was good, overall.  There were only two I had a hard time with at first.  Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) was voiced by Justin Kirk (Weeds).  He gave Hal a young arrogance which was definitely needed to portray him at this stage of his life.  But there was just something about his voice I have a hard time getting past.  Maybe it's because I loved when Nathan Fillion voiced Hal Jordan and now I judge based on that.  Who knows.  The other one that threw me off was Batman.  Voiced by Jason O'Mara (Terra NovaVegas), Batman/Bruce Wayne's voice took some time to get into at first.  It just seemed off to me.  But as the movie went on, I grew more accustomed to it and it began to work for me, and now I love him in the role. 


Alan Tudyk (FireflySuburgatory) did the voice of the Man of Steel himself, Superman.  I didn't realize it was him at first.  I really liked him in the role, and would have been fine with him sticking around for other New 52-based films.  We also had Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) as Shazam, Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds) as Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs) as Barry Allen/The Flash.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film.  I love the direction DC/Warner Bros. set for their animated features. They're getting darker and edgier, using somewhat harsher language and gearing it more toward the adults.  And they've also started to utilize mid- and post-credit scenes to lead into future films.  It started with The Flashpoint Paradox showing a Parademon emerging from a boomtube, which lead into this film, and continued in this one with a mid-credit scene which led into the very first stand-alone Aquaman film.  Which I loved.  So, if you haven't seen this one, hop on Netflix and check it out.

The Merc's Score:  8/10

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