DVD Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE – WAR

Justice League: War
MSRP: $24.98
Release date: February 4, 2014
Rated PG-13
Runtime: 79 minutes
Starring the voices of Sean Astin, Zach Callison, Christopher Gorham, Justin Kirk, Michelle Monaghan, Shemar Moore, Jason O’Mara, and Alan Tudyk
Written by Heath Corson, based on the graphic novel Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
Directed by Jay Oliva

Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Shazam, and Cyborg are drawn together when Darkseid’s Parademons appear on Earth to prepare the planet for his takeover. Justice League: War sets out to introduce The New 52 versions of our heroes and build team chemistry as many of them have just met. It succeeds by highlighting the heroes who can best help us make the leap from human to superhuman.

Batman (O’Mara) and Green Lantern Hal Jordan (Kirk) are the first to meet battling a Parademon. With Batman having achieved urban legend status, Hal is surprised to learn he’s not a vampire, just some guy in a bat suit. Yet, for all the power the ring gives him, Hal is a regular guy without it: funny, cocky, and, yes, heroic.

 

Shazam (Astin) and Cyborg (Moore) are the movie’s other key pair. Shazam’s alter-ego, Billy Batson, is a fan of quarterback Vic Stone before Vic becomes Cyborg. The movie covers Vic’s transformation in some detail, and Shazam’s admiration in spite of it helps Vic accept it.

Vic’s cold relationship with his scientist father (Rocky Carroll) approaches the dark territory of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, but unlike those movies, Justice League: War also has clear moments of humor. The recast voices all work for me, and future movies in the same continuity are planned. I just hope all the new actors can return for them.

Justice League: War is DC’s animated answer to the success of Marvel’s The Avengers while its live-action answer is still years away. The Blu-ray includes a commentary featurette with director Jay Oliva and graphic novel artist Jim Lee, a look at Jim Lee’s life and art, a look at the animation process with Jay Oliva, four episodes of previous DC animated series, and a sneak peek at the next DC animated movie, Son of Batman.

–Gerald So