Considering that the last DC Animated Movie I saw was the highly controversial ‘The Killing Joke‘ adaptation which I did not think all that much of, I came into the premiere of ‘Justice League Dark’ with relatively low expectations, which admittedly were not helped by the haphazard premiere event my colleague and I found ourselves at where the people putting it on struggled to even find our name on the list to get in, let alone remember that we did indeed have seats to watch the screening of the film. Nonetheless, I was still excited to see the film as I thoroughly enjoyed Matt Ryan‘s interpretation of Constantine on both the NBC series of the same name and during his brief appearance on ‘Arrow’ last season, and I wanted to see if they could manage to capture that same magic (see what I did there?) in one of the animated movies using just his voice. And let me tell you, I think they did it just right.
The movie clocks in at a brisk 75 minutes, but I neither thought it felt too long or too short, it moved along at just the right speed for me, was full of humor and darkness (it was apparently rated “R” which I was unaware of going into it), and I found myself thoroughly entertained throughout. All of the voice-actors really worked well as their characters, especially Matt Ryan as Constantine, who no one will be surprised to hear was just as good as ever in the role. Warner Bros would be making a huge mistake if they do not find more opportunities for Ryan to play Constantine, whether in live-action or animated form, as the man just really gets the character, and nails it every time, and is just always exceptionally entertaining delivering lines. But that is not to say the other voice work in the movie is not excellent, as Nick Turturro in particular as Dead Man almost steals the show from Ryan, as he gets to play up the comic relief of the film, and he definitely has some of the best one-liners of the entire movie. And I should also give a shout out to Enrico Colantoni for his work as Felix Faust, as his appearance in the movie is also one of the high-points, and almost all of it is due to the amazing voice-work behind the character and everything Colantoni did to bring the villain to life.
The only negative I would have, and this is really nit-picky, is the use of Batman in the film and in the promotional material, as the character is really just there for the brand, and to draw in audience members who would not be willing to giving the film a chance if they did not see anyone in the line-up that they recognized. Do not get me wrong, I love Jason O’Mara’s work as Batman, but he contributed very little to the story after gathering the team, and it is truly Constantine’s movie, and Batman almost becomes comic-relief himself, and while somewhat entertaining, you definitely get the sense that even the filmmakers felt it was unnecessary to have Batman there the whole time. His usage definitely made me wonder how much the filmmakers were pushed into keeping the Dark Knight in the story by higher-ups.
In the end though, I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys these DC animated movies, and really, super-hero films in general, especially if you are tired of always seeing the same kind of comic-book movie. This is the kind of movie ‘Suicide Squad‘ desperately wanted to be, a band of misfit “heroes” who seem more like monsters, banding together to do what the Justice League could not, and I hope to see more from the Justice League Dark in the future. Make sure to check it out!
‘Justice League Dark’ is available digitally today, with a physical release on Blu-ray and DVD on February 7.
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.