Justice League: War Review
Source Material: Justice League Volume 1: Origin (2011)
Original Creative Team: Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee (pencils), Alex Sinclair (color) & Scott Williams (inker)
Movie Creative Team: Directed by Jay Oliva (animated The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Under the Red Hood, much more)
DC Animated is back with the first movie based in the New 52 continuity, Justice League: War. Originally named after the first volume story arc, Origin, in the Justice League comics, War follows the core Leaguers in their first encounter with one another. This was a very interesting story to read the first time, as the characters that have decades of lineage are now relatively complete strangers. So, while you’re getting a brand new story, you’re also getting the first story in the New 52 canon.
Let’s discuss the story first; War feels like a 40-yard dash from the get go. Gotham PD is chasing after Batman while Green Lantern tries to intervene as they give chase to an alien invader. One thing leads to another as a snowball of character introductions round out the first half of the story, including the birth of Cyborg. As the heroes, who constantly test each other, making snide jokes along the way, they manage to put enough teamwork together to take on Darkseid and (SPOILER, not really) come away with a W. It’s a pretty basic story that is really brought to life by the art and writing of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, respectively.
That being said, the same magic that made the book so great is heavily diluted in the movie. I feel that the absence of Jim Lee’s art in favor of a more anime-style animation was a poor choice. Perhaps it’s to compete with all the Marvel anime coming out, or if it’s just easier to animate, but the rugged style that suited Flashpoint Paradox just seems unfit for the fantastic chemistry of an All-Star creative team in the first book of a relaunched, flagship series. Aside from being aesthetically displeasing, the voice-acting is a mixed bag. Alan Tudyk is a fitting Superman and I can’t imagine anybody but Shemar Moore voicing Cyborg after seeing the movie, but a lot of the other cast members can be grating at times (Hal Jordan especially), and it left me thankful that they all had to share screen-time.
As far as continuity goes, Jay Oliva did a good job of adapting the book to the movie. The little things are still there: Wonder Woman’s declaration of her love of ice cream, Green Lantern’s detailed constructs and Darkseid’s dominance all translate very well to the small screen. However, there is a key member missing from the Justice League. They completely left Aquaman out, which is actually a bummer (seriously! Not being sarcastic here!) because he had one of the most epic entrances of the book. Instead, Aquaman is replaced with Shazam. This upset me at first, as none of the Shazam! origin story builds in the show, but the way they spin the story is original and heart-felt.
Overall, Justice League: War offers a fun, fresh take on the DC Universe in the New 52 continuity. It doesn’t manage to carry over the amazing chemistry of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, but it’s still entertaining enough to do the story some justice. Aquaman always seems to get the short end of the fish stick, and I feel that it hinders the story, even though there is a cray reveal at the ending credits hinting towards a Throne of Atlantis movie in the making. This film is definitely worth picking up for any fan of the DC Animated films, but I would definitely point any new reader towards the comic books before checking out the film.SCORECARD:
|Plot||Solid main story is highlighted by several contributing individual stories.||8/10|
|Voice-acting||Hit or miss cast had great high’s, while the low points were masked by an ensemble cast.||8/10|
|Representation of Source Material||Swapping Aquaman for Shazam seemed like a cop out more than a twist, and discarding Jim Lee’s style hurt the overall presentation.||7/10|
|Animation||Big fan of the rugged anime-style character models, but didn’t fit mainstream origin story. Green Lantern constructs kicked ass.||7/10|
|Sound Effects and Music||Fitting music that drives the action and accentuates the characters.||8/10|
|Captivity||Action is not a commodity in short supply, as even Flash has trouble keeping up.||9/10|
|Overall awesomeness||War was a grand-scale origin story, with plenty of explosions and jokes to be worthy of the description.||8/10|
|Creativity||I like how Shazam! was introduced and placed into Victor’s life, as well as the improvisation with John’s lengthier panels.||9/10|
|Replayability||With so much going on, it’s easy to miss the little things the first go around, making each subsequent viewing more enjoyable.||9/10|
|Special Features||Jim Lee means automatic ten at Hush Comics. The DVD is loaded with interviews and featurettes of the DC Co-Publisher.||10/10|
IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK THESE OUT:
Justice League: The New Frontier is a film with a similar premise, but a much more light-hearted vibe than War.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a similarly-animated gem based on a Geoff John’s storyline.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse will fulfill our your Darkseid needs as the World’s Finest take on the New God.
NEXT FOR DC ANIMATED:
After making three movies in a row (War, Flashpoint Paradox and Superman: Unbound) based off the writing of Geoff Johns, the next animated film will be based off Grant Morrison’s 2006 graphic novel, Batman and Son. Titled Son of Batman, this film will explore the introduction of Damian Wayne into the DC Universe. Batman’s on-again/off-again relationship with Talia Al-Ghul catches up with Batman in Maury-sized proportions. As he tries to reign in little Damian, Batman battles the League of Assassins and Deathstroke, he struggles to keep Damian and Talia alive. I’m thoroughly excited to see an animated Damian Wayne in a Bat-suit. Son of Batman drops May 6th.
Written by Sherif Elkhatib