Justice League: War Sends Squad Back to Bleaker Square One.
It’s no cakewalk to follow in the footsteps of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Flashpoint was not just a superior adaptation, but raised the bar tenfold for DC Entertainment’s direct-to-video line. For Justice League: War, there’s no shame in coming up a bit short of such elevated expectations.
Based on the 2011 Justice League: Origin storyline by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, War retells the formation of DC’s super squad in a contemporary gritty timeline. Batman (Jason O’Mara), Superman (Alan Tudyk), Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) and the rest of the Justice League enter onto the scene with their origin stories already intact. From the start, director Jay Oliva assumes that audiences are already familiar with everyone’s backstory, catapulting the narrative into the heart of action.
Mysterious abductions begin to occur in Gotham City. Batman’s a wanted vigilante for ambiguous reasons. But upon the arrival of Green Lantern, the bigger picture becomes much clearer. The duo make for Metropolis to recruit a brooding Superman, eerily similar to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. So if you weren’t a fan of that angst-driven, neck-snapping Kryptonian, warming up to War’s Superman will require plenty of effort.
Justice League: War is an incredibly fast-paced feature, driven heavily on action rather than settling down a moment here or there for some much needed character development. Those unfamiliar with Origin and The New 52 timeline may struggle with this headfirst storytelling. For the first 30 minutes, Oliva distinguishes thread from thread, leaving viewers wondering how everything will tie in together.
In a matter of moments, we go from Batman, Superman and Green Lantern bickering to Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan) butting heads with political protesters to a football game laying the groundwork for other character’s story arcs. The latter may have some fans of Origin up in arms as Shazam (Sean Astin) replaces Aquaman from the comics. Even with his forced inclusion into War, his moments with Cyborg (Shemar Moore) are some of the film’s more solid ones. Cyborg’s inclusion can also be argued, despite being part of Teen Titans, but Heath Corson’s screenplay works relentlessly to allot him a spot on the Justice League roster.
Action-packed from start to finish, Justice League: War never has the time to lull. Though, it’s apocalyptic finale with Darkseid is such an overblown climax that could’ve easily ended two or three times previously to it ending.
Like many of its previous direct-to-video titles, DC Entertainment delivers a pleasing experience in its video and audio. The 1080p transfer is a crisp delight, perpetually working the vivid constrast during the explosive action sequences. War’s DTS Master Audio 5.1 track captures everything from Darkseid’s Parademon mayhem to hard-hitting punches from our colorful heroes.
There a decent amount of supplemental material for the Blu-ray combo pack. Creating Heroes: The Life and Art of Jim Lee and Deconstructing War with Jay Oliva and Jim Lee offer some interesting insight on this feature. There’s not much to watch beyond the actual feature, but the three hours that’s been added is plenty acceptable. And if you’re already looking ahead, there’s a sneak peek of DC Entertainment’s upcoming release, Son of Batman.
Justice League: War has a few stumbling blocks here and there in its storytelling and deviations from the source material. That does subdue that fact that its fast-paced nonstop action is an entertaining endeavor to say the least.
- Movie: B (8/10)
- Video: B+ (8/10)
- Audio: A- (9/10)
- Special Features: B (8/10)
Grade: B+ (8/10) – Recommended
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Matt Marshall is a YouTube movie reviewer who hosts MNMreviews. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.