When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam and, in his origin story, Cyborg, combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet. Based on the 2012 graphic novel, ‘Justice League: Origin’, by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee, ‘Justice League: War‘ provides a glance into the world before the Justice League was created, and offers the initial animated incarnation of DC Entertainment’s “The New 52.”
I’ve been reviewing DC animated films for a couple of years now, and this is the first time I wasn’t super excited for the release of a new film. Now, I’m not going to sit here and bash the ‘New 52’, nor am I going to complain about the fact we are getting another origin film. The reason I was dreading this story is because the first arch of the new Justice League comic was just plain boring, and when the source material is high quality, how can you expect subsequent ventures across other media to be any different? ‘Justice League: War’ also features a large departure from the comic book, replacing Aquaman with
Captain Marvel… err Shazam. Question, if his name is Shazam, and he has to say “Shazam!” to transform from Billy Batson and back, how is it every time he introduces himself he doesn’t switch? This has bothered me since the name change, and was never more apparent to me than during this release. Anyway, the addition of Shazam was really unnecessary, leaving a team of pretty much all flyers [save Batman (just a guy in a suit) and the Flash (Speedster)].
Over the years of DC Entertainment putting out some massively successful and loved animated properties, there have been a few voice talents we have grown to love (and in some cases embody) as our favorite heroes. Voice actors like Kevin Conroy (Batman), Tim Daly (Superman), Michael Ironside (Darkseid) and Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman) have not only defined these heroes, but have given voice to a generation of fans. These actors are definitive fan favorites, but in the past actors like Bruce Greenwood (‘Star Trek’) and Matt Bomer (‘White Collar’) have stepped in for the likes of Batman and Superman, and they have been wonderful. The real backbone to these vocal performances has always been the great direction of Andrea Romano. In ‘Justice League: War’, the very talented cast came across as flat and unemotional. All of which I found a very surprising especially with Jay Oliva at the helm.
The vocal highlights for this outing, is an entirely new cast, and includes Christopher Gorham as The Flash, Sean Astin as Shazam and Alan Tudyk as Superman. All have stepped into their roles nicely. On the flip side, Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Justin Kirk as Green Lantern and Steve Blum as Darkseid can all be considered low points of this movie with uninspired and lacking delivery.
Ok, so here we are… boring source material, flat vocal performances, but what about the animation? It seems like DC is trying to go as far away from the Bruce Timm style of art and animation as possible. If I thought the voice acting was flat, then you won’t be surprised to know the character designs are lacking as well. I was really worried about how the ‘New 52’ costumes would look in action. Without the “trunks” (aka undies) on Superman and Batman, the proportions are off a lot in the movie. Sometime there torsos are elongated with shorter legs, sometimes the other way around. A special shout out needs to go to the animators for Cyborg, not until the end of the movie (in a very ‘Star Wars’-ian scene when he gets a fancy “re-skin”) does he look sleek and ad advanced, otherwise he looks clunky and strange. There is even a scene where you see him from behind and there is an awful butt crack drawn on his backside.
So there you have it! A whole bunch of reasons to skip ‘Justice League: War’. If you really want to see it I’d recommend waiting for it to hit Netflix, Amazon or Redbox. Otherwise gear up for the next DC Entertainment release ‘Son of Batman‘, which looks amazing.