It’s still going to be a couple of years before a live action version of Justice League finally hits our big screens. But in the meantime, those Super-Friends are going to be tearing it up in animated form. Justice League: War is the tale of how DC Comic’s greatest heroes joined forces to fight back a threat too big for any one hero.
And it’s an action-packed thrill-ride that makes this The Raid of comic book movies.
What Justice League: War does is dispense with creating a half dozen origin stories and get straight to business. Going full steam and trusting that it’s audience already knows who Batman, Green Lantern and Superman are, it’s only Victor Stone who gets a brief origin story that sees him transformed into the half man half machine hero known as Cyborg in a manner that is tied into the story. But beyond some light story beats, this film is pure action, only letting up occasionally in order to allow the audience to breathe.
It’s earth’s mightiest heroes forced to do battle with an entire planet of heavy-hitting Para-demons from the planet Apokolips, a never-ending swarm of monsters on steroids that no one hero can hope to defeat on their own. And as much as they are a team near the end of this film, it’s a small achievement in how each character manages to feel distinct and have their moment to shine in a film that clocks in at under 80 minutes. Batman is your typical peak human badass with a hint of madness running through his veins when he dons the cowl, but is surprisingly human when unmasked. Green Lantern is a man without fear and pretty much the most likeable person in the film, while his interactions with the Flash prove that these heroes are all still too human despite the fact that they have godly powers.
Wonder Woman is over the top and cheesy in the voice acting department, yet this seems to have been done on purpose because this flamboyant portrayal of the Amazonian is actually fun to watch, even if it does cause a few cringe-worthy moments. Shazam is a kid in the body of a super-powered god, Cyborg is a reluctant hero and Superman looks like he eats WWE superstars for breakfast as he arrogantly flaunts his power. Once again, Warner Bros has done a solid job in finding the right voices and direction for their heroes, while a heavily tuned-up Steve Blum finally gives Darkseid the epic edge that has been missing since Michael Ironside left the role.
When the original comic book source material was launched a few years back, it set up the team of super friends in a manner befitting a big screen Hollywood effort. It wasn’t the greatest story ever told, but it did an adequate job that was bolstered by some great art. Taking a cue from that launch, Justice League: War clearly knows that it isn’t working with the greatest of origin stories. What the film does with inspiration however, is use it to help create the most action-packed animated film that Warner Bros Animation has ever produced.
With just enough of a plot to justify the action, it flows beautifully. From one on one fights where Batman finds out just how vastly outgunned he is when he takes on Superman, through to Wonder Woman clearing Air Force One of any Parademons and Cyborg using one of the beasts as a makeshift weapon, there’s more than enough adrenaline flowing throughout Justice League: War. Solid direction, imaginative battles and a finale that has the entire league bringing down the thunder make this a perfect Saturday night popcorn action flick.
If you go into Justice League: War expecting another Dark Knight Returns, then you’re going to be disappointed. This is in your face action with no hidden plot twists and enough explosions to attract a wild Michael Bay. And for a team film set in the universe of the New 52, it works brilliantly.
Last Updated: January 24, 2014