The movie starts simply enough, a heist with Lex Luthor and the Joker taking something of great importance no doubt to change the world. That’s when simplicity ends, we’re shown the truth. That these two are actually the heroes and they’re trying to prevent a great evil from continuing. Though the numbers game isn’t in they’re favor. Enter from a parallel Earth, the Justice League we’re more used too. Cue epic battle for control for EVERYTHING.
Thus is the story behind the latest offering from DC and Warner Brothers animated department. You know I have to admit, I really wasn’t looking forward to this movie. I mean honestly, what can possibly be done with a hero vs. their evil alternate counterpart story which we haven’t seen before already in previous DC animated universe (aka the Justice Lords arc in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited). But then that’s my meager mind for you. That it wouldn’t be able to comprehend the sheer awesomeness that this movie is.
The conflict between the Justice League and their
counterpart Crime Syndicate is upped even further than any previous showing
animated wise. Besides it’s an alternate reality where everything is topsy
turvy, which always is a kick. To any DC comic nerd this movie might be utter
bliss. It was for me. To the Marvel fan in me, hey it’s got Nolan North (aka
the dude who voiced Deadpool from last year’s Hulk vs.) as ironically Green
Lantern, Vanessa Marshall, and Josh Keaton as Wonder Woman and Flash (Mary Jane
Watson and Peter Parker from Spectacular
Spider-Man). Oh yeah, I can’t forget the fact that James Woods is voicing
an evil Batman (Owlman being the actual name of his character). That by itself
is like a MUST SEE.
Though back to why this is entertaining to all of nerd-dom. Everything good about the DC Universe is on display here. The story, humor, characters, and of course fights are all perfectly well executed. Any hardcore DC fan will be right at home here. Even more, no doubt they’ll be trying to piece together who the evil counterparts mirror is on the heroic universe.
Nothing feels drawn out and by the end of this movie you hunger for more than wish for it to end. This is a superhero action movie at its finest. Any complaint a fanboy could have is easily answered away and the plot is razor sharp. I have to reward some major kudos to Dwayne McDuffie for the stuff he written here. He’s at his very best here, so those thinking this will be perhaps tame or lackluster as some said his Justice League of America comic book run was you will be surprised.
As for the usual nerd complaints (“Batman isn’t Kevin Conroy! Lex Luthor isn’t Clancy Brown!”), well rest assured those who do voice said characters do an excellent job at the roles their given. Besides, we can’t forever be stuck with just one person playing them. We have no other scope from to possibly see other sides to the character or other methods of portrayal. Also it just feels so darn natural hearing these voices. Though when comes down to it, everyone in the main heroic cast was exceptional. Mark Harmon as Superman was damned good to hear. William Baldwin does an actually good job as Batman too. He carries the right voice for the character and perfectly captures the spirit and just right tone for the Dark Knight. I know some will find flaws with him and how he'll not be the batgod that was Conroy. Come on! Conroy cannot voice the Detective forever, just as with Adam West in the past. LET IT GO!
Even the secondary characters have some stellar acting. The biggest one amongst them being Johnny Quick (evil Flash) played by John Patrick Stuart. There’s a great cockiness to the character that Stuart gives him, yet a hint of if things were ironically different this guy could have been a hero. Also his heroric opposite, Flash (Keaton) is such a darn scene stealer in the first half of the film. His lines during the first encounter with one of the Syndicate's lackeys is utterly hilaroius.
Then there’s James Woods performance as Owlman. Yeah it’s worth the hype I give it. Woods gives a nice monotone performance of a character driven to one goal. What that endgame is, well I can’t spoil such a delicious character point. Still, Woods easily personifies a cold driven ruthlessly cunning evil Batman. Only at the end do we see a small glint of all that undone and it isn’t because any of his plans are being stopped. Thus, every scene with his character is just a treat for me. He plays marvelously off in his scenes with Gina Torres’ Superwoman and Baldwin’s Batman.
So just how well the main antagonists are in this film aka the Crime Syndicate? There are some great scenes that showcase why they have a strangle hold on this Earth. I just wish there were more of those types of scenes. Though you do get a sense that the reason why they won is because they pooled their resources into one united mob. Nothing seems off limits for them to take. Though my only problem is how small some of them think as in only globally not universally. I mean it’s a minor nitpick that is actually addressed by Superwoman and Owlman in this film so the complaint of mine is thrown out.
So is it truly a perfect superhero film? Ok, there are some flaws, but minor. The biggest I have would be the thrown in romance subplot involving the Martian Manhunter and the President’s daughter. I mean sure it drives to an actual point, but I have to admit maybe it’s because who said daughter is in the universe J’onn is in I just have a darn creepy vibe. However, the pay off at the end was interesting and given the nature of these animated movies being their separate universe there’s an almost unpredictable edge here.
Then there’s the actual President, who I understand why he does what he does in appeasing his Crime Syndicate masters, but after the second act’s end is he utterly clueless to what the heroes have done? That they’ve actually given him a prime opportunity? Though I digress, then there wouldn’t be the other subplot and this movie would be only fifty minutes instead of an a little over seventy minutes. Also the subplot with J’onn and the first daughter isn’t that annoying.
The last annoyance is an insignificant one at best. It was the use of Ultraman in the movie. I mean he’s the evil Superman, and yet his goals are just so petty and small compared to Owlman or Superwoman. There’s a hint of more (during his scene with the President), but that’s just it. Still, I guess it’s this underlying small mindedness is what leads to his downfall. So I won’t hold it too much against the movie.
Regardless of these minor flaws, this movie is VERY entertaining and is VERY re-watchable. The direction (by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Lui) and animation found here are top notch. The action is just astounding there are a ton of memorable fights to be had here. Same can be said with the acting as the performances here are just perfect for the characters (again Woods rules). All and all, I have to admit that this is probably the best animated movie Warners has put out in this post DCA Universe era (aka the reign of DC Cartoons starting from Batman: The Animated Series in the 90s to Justice League Unlimited in the early 00s). Now if you don’t mind me I am going to re-watch this film.
5 out of 5
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About the Author - Zechs
Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.
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