I sat up watching Justice League: War last night in the dark. My notes may not make much sense as I convert them into this review but I want to start off by saying there may be spoilers for you ahead but I’m going to give more of a general overview rather than a step by step breakdown of the entire movie.
A lot of what transpires in the movie is well known via various comic arcs and animated episodes of the Justice League. Based on Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams to kick of their debut on the New 52 Justice League arc, the movie gives us a quick introduction to Green Lantern, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Cyborg and Shazam as well as bringing Darkseid into the fray with his converted minions to terraform earth and consume it as he has multiple other planets and universes.
So, we start off with reports of the ‘Batman’ with terrified victims being snatched by a bat-like creature. Batman is clearly still a being of myth and legend, still hunted by the GCPD based on reports of the elusive crime fighter that people would rather deny the existence of. It soon turns out that this is not Batman but a creature similar to a lizard but equipped with alien technology and armour as well as the ability to breathe fire.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) swoops in after the kidnapper swipes his latest victim and soon discovers that this is a formidable foe. After a beautifully animated fight sequence with complimentary explosions, Batman arrives to assist. This is HIS city, after all.
We encounter our first of many comical comments from Green Lantern when he says, “Batman? You’re REAL?!” As the movie progresses, Green Lantern and Batman have a few sarcastic and comical exchanges. It nails the character of Hal Jordan from the comics and the dry, matter-of-factly Bruce Wayne.
Another fantastic sequence ensues when Batman attaches his grapple-hook to what we later find out to be a Parademon. Just as he takes off he states “This is my city” To which Green Lantern responds “This entire space sector is mine”. It [Parademon] flies through Gotham with Batman in tow, swooping by buildings and other objects that would make you hurl with fear of dying if you came into contact with them.
Shortly after, the creature escapes into the sewer system. As they pursue, another pleasant exchange takes place between the two. “I’m a Green Lantern, I can do anything.” “Except shut up, apparently,” Batman responds. Green Lantern then probes Batman in the familiar fashion of the comics by questioning what his abilities and powers are. My favourite part of this scene is where Green Lantern asks, “Do you fly?” And Batman responds with, “In a plane.” It’s a very short line but the humour rings through for those die hard fans of DC comics – every incarnation of the meeting of the two has an element of disbelief and sarcasm when it comes to the fact that this guy, Bruce Wayne, is just a guy in a bat suit.
I’m not going to give a running commentary on the movie, you’ll see and hear everything I describe if you watch it yourself – that was just a taste of the first few minutes of the movie opening and sums up the overall tone. Later we get introduced to Wonder Woman in the company of Steve Trevor, about to introduce Diana to the President of the United States when the Parademons attack the White House.
The way all of the remaining members of the reluctant ‘team’ and ‘super friends’ are introduced is great, Cyborg’s creation by far one of my favourite parts of the movie. Darkseid’s eventual arrival and the way he swats Superman and the others out of the air and breaks Green Lantern’s arm using less energy than a halogen heater on it’s lowest setting spells impending doom for Gotham, Metropolis and the rest of the world.
Through problem solving and teamwork, Darkseid is defeated and teleported back to his homeworld. The heroes who were hated and feared previously are now celebrated as champions of Earth. Their little remarks and conversations as the President addresses the public shows how much they do not want to work together and they want to go their separate ways, but we all know that Earth will be under attack again and again and this unlikely bunch will need to band together to save us all. Meet the Super Seven! Wait…that name sucks.
So…how does this movie fare?
Well, the story is fantastic. Most DC fans already know it but it’s great to see it in a feature length film with what animation has to offer today. The animation is amazing and fluid and it makes it feel like we’re watching a comic book unfold in motion on our screens. The voice acting takes a little while to get used to when your Batman is Kevin Conroy but once you get past the voice talents that are missing you can enjoy the ones that are actually there. My reaction to the voices was similar to when I watched Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – I couldn’t embrace Bruce Wayne/Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s voices but after a few viewings I got over it.
The movie is done in a way that, regardless of your knowledge of the characters and the DC universe, everyone can enjoy it. Fanboys may see some things they haven’t seen before and newcomers can just enjoy the ride. DC know what they’re doing and, by tying this release as well as some of their other titles in with the New 52 series, it may gain a new readership rather than potential readers being put off by wondering where to start in the massive back catalogue of previous titles.
So, here’s my breakdown via the gift of stars:
[usrlist “Movie:4.5” “Animation:5” “Story:5” “VoiceActing:4”]