Justice League: War (Blu-ray) (2014)
Featurette-Deconstructing War with Jay Oliva and Jim Lee
Featurette-Creating Heroes: The Life and Art of Jim Lee
Featurette-Justice League: War Act D Ė From animatic to pencil test
Featurette-A Sneak Peek at Son of Batman
Bonus Episode-From the DC Comics Vault
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Jay Oliva|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Mid-credits scene|
††† Although Warner Brothers have been producing DC Universe Animated Original Movies since 2007, the resultant productions have not exactly abided by a shared continuity, instead telling standalone stories without a real through-line. This all changes with 2014ís Justice League: War, as itís intended to be the beginning of a linked franchise of animated superhero movies, not unlike what Marvel has achieved with their live-action blockbuster franchise. Starting afresh, War is an origins story for the titular superhero gang, designed to follow the DC Comics ďNew 52Ē reboot which kicked off in 2011. An adaptation of the six-issue Justice League: Origins series, War is a blast on its own merits; a fun, action-packed superhero outing with all the bluster and bombast that comic book fans will be anticipating. However, greatness lies just out of its reach, and the fact that it falls so short of becoming a masterpiece is frustrating indeed.
††† War chronicles the beginnings of the Justice League of America, consisting of Batman (Jason OíMara), Superman (Alan Tudyk), Green Lantern (Justin Kirk), Flash (Christopher Gorham), Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), Cyborg (Shemar Moore) and Shazam (Sean Astin). Mysterious explosive devices begin appearing in major cities, planted by alien creatures, which compels the various heroes to stop bickering, put aside their egos, and work together to stop an alien invasion led by merciless planet terraformer Darkseid (Steve Blum).
††† Running at a mere 79 minutes, thereís unfortunately not enough breathing room here to do the narrative justice, as the movie takes a number of shortcuts in order to introduce the main heroes and the villains, and develop the storyline pertaining to Earthís destruction. Itís disappointing that the movie was not split into two features (a la The Dark Knight Returns), but Heath Corsonís script does about the best job possible in the limited timeframe, giving the ensemble proper introductions and bringing them together in a natural-feeling way. Nevertheless, there isnít a lot of depth to the heroes, a flaw felt most glaringly in Wonder Woman, whoís too comical. Furthermore, the dialogue is often sophomoric and pedestrian, with the characters given snarky, jokey banter to disperse which doesnít always work. Itís clear that the movie was deliberately designed to compete with The Avengers, but itís only marginally effective. The Avengers had the benefit of a 150-minute running time, far more money, and Joss Whedonís witty screenwriting tongue - thereís simply no comparison between the two.
††† Justice League: War was directed by DCU mainstay Jay Oliva, who also oversaw The Dark Knight Returns and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Oliva has a flair for colourful action scenes, and War delivers in spades, creatively allowing the superheroes to utilise their various abilities in combat without going too over-the-top. The productionís centrepiece is the extended city-wide scuffle with Darkseid and various aliens, which takes up the entirety of the third act. Itís interesting to see the various heroes putting aside their differences and bonding for the greater good, and the movie seriously delivers when we get to watch these guys working together. Admittedly, the animation remains strictly average, with shortcuts clearly having been taken for various sequences. It does look like an animated television show at times, but it nevertheless does its job well enough considering the budgetary limitations. Plus, the movieís opening titles are hugely impressive; a stylised succession of comic book panels which set the tone beautifully.
††† The design of each of the superheroes have been updated for DCís New 52 series, with Batman now donning a gorgeous suit of rock-solid armour, while Superman wears darker colours, and so on. While the ďclassicĒ outfits of prior animated features were acceptable, itís nice to see the franchise get a visual makeover, especially since Batmanís fabric costume has always looked a bit silly. Fortunately, the voice actors are fairly solid across the board. OíMara is an underrated actor whoís never really gotten his due recognition, and heís a robust Batman, with a gruff voice that also has a degree of charm to it. In the absence of fan favourite Kevin Conroy, this is about the best we can rightly expect. The wonderful Michelle Monaghan is also on hand to voice Wonder Woman, and she gives the role plenty of spunk and spirit despite the characterís one-dimensional disposition. Meanwhile, Alan Tudyk is a bit nondescript as Superman, and Justin Kirk overdoes the jokey demeanour of Green Lantern. Faring better is Sean Astin as Shazam, while the rest of the cast hit their marks respectably.
††† Justice League: War is merely a good animated superhero movie as opposed to a great one. Itís definitely enjoyable, but it falls short of its potential - thereís no getting around the fact that the story is all over the shop and a 79-minute runtime is hopelessly insufficient. Itís worth noting that while these movies are often for kids, the violence here is perhaps a tad too excessive for more sensitive viewers, though itís not too bad. Thereís also a mid-credits scene to potentially set up a future title in the DCU canon, once again highlighting that this new series is taking its cues from the Marvel handbook of superhero franchises.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
† † The local release appears to be a direct port of the Region A release from Warner Bros. Draw.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|