Thursday, February 24, 2022

Review: "JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: Apokolips War" - As Endings Go, This One is Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 of 2022 (No. 1820) by Leroy Douresseaux

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War – video (2020)
Running time:  90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – R for bloody violence, language, and some sexual references
DIRECTORS:  Matt Peters and Christina Sotter
WRITERS:  Ernie Altbacker and Mairghread Scott; from a story by Mairghread Scott (based on characters appearing in DC Comics)
PRODUCER:  Amy McKenna
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and James Tucker
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Tiger Animation


Starring:  (voices) Matt Ryan, Camilla Luddington, Taissa Farmiga, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rosario Dawson, Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allen, Hynden Walch, Rainn Wilson, Liam McIntyre, Ray Chase, John DiMaggio, Roger Cross, Shemar Moore, Christopher Gorham, and Tony Todd

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a 2020 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation.  It is the thirty-eighth film in Warner Home Video's line of “DC Universe Animated Original Movies.”  This film features the marquee DC Comics superhero teams:  Justice League, Teen Titans, and Suicide Squad.  The title of the movie references the supernatural-leaning version of the Justice League, the “Justice League Dark.”  In Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the Earth's remaining superheroes engage in an epic battle to save what is left of Earth from Darkseid.

As Justice League Dark: Apokolips War opens, Superman (Jerry O'Connell) has devised a plan in which the Justice League will lead a first-strike attack on the all-powerful New God, Darkseid (Tony Todd), who has made two failed attempts at conquering Earth.  The plan is also for the Teen Titans to stay behind and protect the planet.  Unfortunately for the heroes of Earth, Darkseid has learned of their plans and overwhelms them with his “Paradooms,” a genetic hybrid creature made from combination of Darkseid's Parademons and Doomsday, the alien creature that once “killed” Superman.

Two years later, Earth is in ruins, and Darkseid has placed three devices, known as “Reapers,” on Earth to mine the planet's core of its magma.  Some superheroes, such as Cyborg (Shemar Moore), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), and Batman (Jason O'Mara), are now Darkseid's slaves.  Many of the surviving heroes blame Clark Kent/Superman for leading them into failure, and worse, Superman has been forcibly de-powered after Darkseid tattooed his chest with liquid kryptonite.  Still, the Man of Steel has not given up on saving Earth.

Supeman and Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) have hatched a new plan to stop Darkseid.  Clark recruits the remaining Teen Titans, Damian Wayne/Robin (Stuart Allen) and Raven (Taissa Farmiga), who is struggling to maintain her father, Trigon's (John DiMaggio) imprisonment.  But everything may hinge on the troublesome con man and sorcerer, John Constantine (Matt Ryan).

Within the “DC Universe Animated Original Movies,” there is the “DC Animated Movie Universe.”  The line began in 2013 with the straight-to-video release of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and is comprised of 15 feature length films.  The point of the “DC Animated Movie Universe” was to make animated films that were loosely based on “The New 52.”  Started in 2011, “The New 52” was the publishing initiative in which DC Comics relaunched its entire line of superhero comic books.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the last film in the “DC Animated Movie Universe.”  That factoid is second in importance to the fact that Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a really good DC Comics animated film.  The film probably uses the “Justice League Dark” title rather than simply “Justice League” because of the tone of the story and because, in many ways, John Constantine, the star of 2017's Justice League Dark animated film, is the lynch pin of Apokolips War.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War takes the viewers in some inventive and intriguing directions in regards to characters, relationships, and mythologies.  The film offers a surprising amount of emotionally fulfilling character drama and arcs, including the usual Lois Lane and Clark Kent relationship.  However, John Constantine and Zatanna (Camilla Luddington) offer a poignant pairing, but the most surprising is the romance between Damian Wayne and Raven.  They're good enough to be the stars of their own animated film.

The surprising turns and compelling directions in which this film travels are matched by some high quality animation, a strong script, and some surprisingly lean and mean directing.  Such a large cast and so many subplots could have dragged on Apokolips War.  Instead, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is an exciting and riveting film, and it is a great way to end one universe in the DC Comics multiverse.

8 of 10

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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