Film Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Studio: Warner Home Video, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment
Release Format: Blu-Ray/DVD, Digital & Streaming
DC needs to remove those letters from their name as they add another A+ movie to their library. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the film fans of superhero movies need to see.
Apokolips War sees the Justice League in one of their most emotional and hard-fought battles yet. They will lose friends, themselves and more to do whatever it takes to defeat Darkseid. The League has been playing chess, while the Dark God is playing checkers and he is over the games now.
This is the Justice League movie we should have got on the big screen. From the engaging interactions between the cast to the spectacular fights, I was making wild noises watching this as if it were the Super Bowl.
I haven’t felt this way about a DC animated film since Flashpoint Paradox which started kicked off this animated cinematic universe almost a decade ago. This wraps up many of the storylines built over the 2010s with a satisfying bittersweet ending that left me excited for what comes next.
Someone Turn The Lights On
Let’s get this out the way, Apokolips War is dark. I’m talking driving on a dirt road in the country during night time dark. There’s a scene with Darkseid dispatching people that makes savage Mortal Kombat fatalities look like a scratch in comparison.
Yet, when things get bleak the movie hits you with hilarious moments that make you forget the scarring scene before. This is an impressive feat, considering the balancing act they have to pull to not become a straight comedy. The jokes never undercut serious scenes but instead compliment them.
There’s a running joke with King Shark that has the biggest payoff later. I had to pause the screen and let out the biggest gut laugh with how simple but well-timed it was.
The battles are exciting from the opening to the credits. The first fight scene is thrilling with its cool reveals, snappy dialogue and funny moments mixed in. It made me want to check out original Justice League Dark to see what I missed out on,
The animation is great, even though it has a handful of parts that could have benefited from a bigger budget. Some of the punches don’t have that “omph” when they connect. Luckily, the awesome score and sound design help cover up any weak spots this future classic might have.
Voice acting is fantastic all around, even if certain actors like Jerry ‘O Connell as Superman can sound a tad wooden. He more often than not comes off well as a vulnerable Man of Steel, but then there are sections that have me wondering if they just woke him up to read the lines.
I like this different take on well-known heroes. Matt Ryan and Jason ‘O Mara knock it out the park as Constantine and Batman respectively.
Big Risk, Big Reward
Apokolips War is realistic in how things would play out if heroes fought villains. There’s no “I’ll get you next time Scooby-Doo” which can feel cheap since it feels like a fire sale instead of another chapter in DC. Everything is coming to an end with any magic/time travel redos being ruled out early, so everything is definitive.
This approach lets the film tell one of the riskiest stories the franchise has seen. The writers are like kids when parents leave for the weekend, doing whatever they please. They don’t care what a character’s name is, the only thing that decides if they (might )see the credits is what best serves the story, which is refreshing.
The character designs here made me raise an eyebrow. Speaking of eyebrow-raising, why does Wonder Woman look like The Rock in this with her blocky face. All the designs have strong features but Diana here looks more like some dude named Dan of cosplaying as her.
Although this is fast-paced, things do slow down abruptly near the middle. Not much happens, which could have been better spent highlighting secondary characters.
There are battles we only see aftermath or pieces of like Shazam, who has an interesting subplot/battle we only get a glimpse of. This could have used a longer runtime or another film to flesh things out more.
There’s an emotional scene, although having the right ingredients, didn’t have the intended impact as it rushed through it. Things are happening at breakneck speed, which generally enhanced the urgency for our heroes, but hurts scenes that require a breath in the plot.
This movie goes off of the notion that you watched the past entries for character building. The main development goes to Constantine and that’s about it. This focuses more on the situation, rather than character growth. Honestly, the situations are so engrossing the hour and a half runtime flew by so I’ll give it pass this once.
The Magic Touch of Justice League Dark
Apokolips War goes to some crazy places. DC gave the team the freedom to do whatever they wanted and they went above that. Some creative gambles didn’t work as well but when so much of it hits, this can be overlooked. If DC can channel whatever juice their animation team has into their live-action efforts, Disney could start sweating more than a cheater does when their S/O answers a “Mom” call.
While I think the fast-paced worked overall, some aspects definitely felt rushed for a story that easily warrants a two-parter. Another 15 minutes could have helped this epic add the finishing touches to a super enjoyable experience. Go catch this and support studios taking risks as this project does.
What’s your favorite DC animated game? What’s another surprisingly good 2020 release? Leave a comment!
- Fantastic script
- Likable and varied cast
- Voice actors are superb
- Fast pace undercuts emotional scenes
- Some animation is not as high-quality as the rest