First appearing in 1960, the Justice League is something of a geek icon and staple of American superhero comics. With it’s long history, cultural impact and relevance, the lack of a proper Justice League movie hasn’t been looked at fondly by many comic fans. But, In my opinion, Warner Brothers (who owns DC comics outright) has done enough to please me with its DC animated movies. Now that DC has rebooted it’s universe with it’s New 52, it only made since to start using the new story lines for the movies, giving both the comics and the movies a fresh start. However, for “Justice League: War” that fresh start quickly turned sour.
Starting off with the positives, most of the cast looks fantastic. The creative team used the New 52 outfits (witch is appropriate given that it is the source of the story line as well) and almost everyone makes the leap from comic stills to animation wonderfully. It was also nice to see some creativity with the Green Lanterns power constructs. Where as in some other media his ring is used to make light beams and shields (or, at it’s most moronic use, a hot wheels car and track) it was nice seeing constructs that seemed both creative and useful (and not stupid). My personal favorite was a “mechanized” battle suit that seemed based on similar ones from at lest a dozen other science fiction movies.
That, sadly, is where the positives end. The lest offensive thing this movie does wrong is having bland battles throughout most of the film. They’re not bad or poorly thought out, just bland and uninteresting, save for a few of Wonder Woman’s fights when she is using both her sword and lasso against a hoard of minions. Every fight between the Justice League and Darkside felt uninspired, as if the creative team just stopped caring, and the final battle is just a repetitive slog of trying to get him in a boom tube only for him to escape and do it over again. One fight, between Superman, Batman and Green Lantern seemed to take more than a few cues from 2013’s underwhelming “Man of Steel”. With that kind of inspiration and the lackluster battles, it almost feels like the creative team didn’t want to make an action movie.
So maybe they were shooting for something more along the lines of 2012’s “The Avengers”, where half the fun of the movie is watching how the characters interact with each other. The banter between Batman and Green Lantern (here the comedy relief character) seems to point in that direction, and it is always a good way to go for team up stories. However, if that was the idea the creative team failed so miserably I can’t see why they were allowed to release this. Almost every voice actor seems wrong for their part, save for Alan Tudyk as Superman and Shemar Moore as Cyborg. Darkside’s voice is also impressive, but there are so many vocal effects at work that I can’t tell how much of it had to do with Steve Blum’s performance.
The worst offender by far is Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman. I want to blame the script and director (Jay Oliva) for how stupid Wonder Woman seemed (no, not naïve, not lost in the modern world, just plain stupid) but her voice was so wrong for the character that the simple fact that she agreed to do the job means I have to hold her as accountable as either the writer or Oliva. Sure, she is strong, and sure her fights are the best in the movie, but she goes from being a political envoy to battle loving “warrior” (lunatic) for seemingly no reason. Sure, Paradise Island is removed from the modern world, and yes, they are warriors, but even they wouldn’t send a political ambassador who would simply skip their meeting with the president because they got bored waiting for him. Hell, Diana is a Princess, she should know better political etiquette than that. But no, in this film she just another war loving moron. If a one note power house of a characters is your idea of a “strong female character” then you might love her, but I found her lack of depth…disappointing, to say the lest. And sure, I could talk about how Superman is a snob, how batman takes off his cowl to talk to Green Lantern and all the other dumb character changes that were made, but really, I don’t think I have to go on to make my point.
The Fact is, this in not the fresh start the Justice League needed, this is not a film worthy of Warner Brothers animation and it is most definitely not a movie worth your time.