Jan 28

Cartoon Review – Justice League War

70% of non-action time is Wonder Woman getting an ice cream. Though that’s just a few minutes long.

More DC film animation with a Justice League origin story based on the New 52 reboot comic that was written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee. It’s the first one in line with the New 52, which seems to be the coming standard for any of these non-Batman movies, and I’m not a big fan of what’s currently going on with the comics. But these animated works can improve on the source material; get rid of the problems from the original. So the question is, is this an improvement or is it dragged down by the comics it’s based on?

Spoilers below:

The plot of this is that Darkseid is having Parademons place Motherbox’s all over the world in order to open boom tubes and send an army of Parademons and himself in to conquer earth. Earth’s mightiest must band together for the first time in order to stop the invasion. That is pretty much everything to do with the plot, save one or two details.

This is not a story with a deep intricate plot, it’s extremely action heavy. An hour and twenty minutes of almost non-stop action. If you can accept and enjoy that then this’ll be a good film for you to watch. The action is great to watch and they really pull out all the stops to make it a thrill ride. There’s even a lot more swearing than usually present in these features, which seems fitting given the amount of beheading, eviscerations, and general gory deaths of the Parademons.

The animation is fantastic, most of the time. Maybe not the best of these features, but it certainly works well. What drops it down is that its reach sometimes exceeds its grasp. It’s an invasion, which means an army of Parademons flying around, but those shots are incredibly cheap looking next to the rest of it. Copy and pasted Parademons flying around with little to no actual movement animation involved. Doing it once would be annoying, but alright and understandable, but it keeps on happening because it is just action, action, and more action with fights with armies of Parademons and Darkseid. So it’s very distracting to see it keep happening over and over again. Incredibly shoddy work that should’ve been cut out, or at least when working on it they could’ve said “let’s just do a few big money shots of the Parademon army and work around not showing too many on screen at once.” On the other hand, the Green Lantern constructs were all amazing. Each one was individualised and different, all complex and wonderful to see. Some of the best Lantern constructs I’ve seen animated.

The designs are, well they’re Phil Bourassa designs with all the good and bad that entails. The League are a bit too big and muscular for my liking, especially their necks. Except Wonder Woman, because no one’s allowed to put any visible muscles on her. But the designs are better than his ones for Flashpoint Paradox, which are his style taken to the extreme. The costumes were tweaked versions of the comic designs and they are certainly better. Gone are all the random lines on everyone’s costumes that looked a bit silly and made everyone’s costume look uniformed even though they should’ve all been made independently.

However this is where I run out of good things to say. The characters are all rather annoying. Almost all of them act like petulant children and the only thing I can think of to justify this is that they’re Player Characters in a tabletop RPG. That would explain a lot of their actions and stupid things they do. They were going for a “Marvel Method” of having them not get along, but it’s done in such an over the top fashion that it makes them look like a bunch of assholes.

Green Lantern is the worst offender; they really made him out to be an unlikeable douche. I don’t have any love for Hal Jordon, but making him into the jerk of the group was some serious character assassination. At first I thought they were making him dumb just to prop up Batman, like always, but no they really did make him that much of a dumb asshole throughout the film. It didn’t prop up Batman it was just them saying what a horrible Green Lantern Hal is. If they’d put Guy Gardner in this instead of Hal it would’ve worked so much better. Guy is meant to be abrasive, a dumbass, and a jerk with a heart of gold. They had a perfect character for this Green Lantern but they miscast him and put Hal in the role.

Wonder Woman, oh dear this Wonder Woman. She acts like a ten year old and not an ambassador to a foreign country. Which she is meant to be since she’s supposed to meet with the President at the beginning of the film. She perpetually wants to fight things, using her sword to point at things and scaring the pants off of everyone around her. She uses it to get free ice cream for crying out loud. She kept swinging it around so much before the invasion began anyone within arms reach should’ve been cut in two. Thankfully she gets less annoying once the fighting starts. However there was a completely forced love interest vibe between her and Superman. It wasn’t anything deep or built off anything beyond “you’re strong, I’m strong.” Also everyone except Batman, the Flash, and Cyborg, were hitting on her, Hal going as far to “claim dibs.”

The others were less annoying. Superman was a little too aloof for my tastes. It was kind of weird seeing him be very casual about things. In the middle of an alien invasion he stops Hal from hitting on Wonder Woman with a “back off, she’s mine.” gesture. The Flash got the short end of the stick, he never acted like a douchebag, but that’s because they didn’t really give him anything to be an asshole over. He was there, not given much of anything in the way of character. Cyborg probably got the most character related stuff in the movie, but they shoved his daddy issues and transformation tragedy into very small parts so at the end he just got over them off screen. And then there’s Captain Marvel Shazam. He had the biggest excuse to be a petulant child, but they still went out of their way to make him look like an asshole, even to his one scene with his foster family.

I will give the movie this; they did a Justice League movie where Batman didn’t steal the show for once. That’s rarely happened before. The last movie was called Flashpoint and it was somehow more about him than the Flash. But they got him out of the way of the main action and so they didn’t feel to need to make it all about him. It was actually nice not having a Batman centred movie for once.

The villain though, oh poor Darkseid, how the mighty have fallen. All he is in this is a big bad alien invader, nothing more. He did not have any character, no grand speeches about nihilism nor did he ever seem above everyone else like he thought of himself like a god. He has now become like Thanos or Mongol, a pale rip-off imitation of Darkseid. Just like with Green Lantern, the movie would’ve been better served replacing him with someone else, Mongol and his War World would’ve worked just as well. His defeat was also rather terrible, with the plot foiled solely by Cyborg in a move straight out of Doctor Who. So the story has to flounder to try and get the other Leaguers to “help” end the plot so it doesn’t feel like it could’ve just been a Cyborg movie.

From what I understand these problems are there in the original comic. Maybe they were worse there, maybe they were less emphasised, but that’s still the movies fault. They could’ve changed things more from the comic, made the story an actual story, had the characters be less of an asshole to each other, but they didn’t. There was no mandate that all the bad parts from the comic needed to be adapted too. So the comic being bad doesn’t excuse the film for not trying to fix those problems. I’m only assuming what people have said is true about the comic, since I’ve never read it and only seen scans of the more infamously dumb parts of it. Take that as you will.

So if you’re looking for a good mindless action movie staring the Justice League then go pick this up. Seriously, don’t try to think of this as anything other than a giant fight sequence and it’ll be fun to watch. This is not trying to be Under the Red Hood or any of the other movies with any plots with character focus, development, or intricate stories to tell. It knows it’s a fight movie and makes no bones about it. Perhaps I should be more annoyed at that, but we’ve gotten several other Justice League movies with those things so one that’s just a big fight scene doesn’t hurt. So long as this isn’t the start of a trend, that is.