(Editor’s note: I’m going to try to avoid big spoilers here, but keep in mind that I am reviewing a film so I will have to talk about some plot points which may “Spoil” certain parts of the film. If you haven’t seen it watch it before reading.)
If you’ve listened to our podcasts or read the article I wrote about the DC animated films, it should come as no surprise to you that I was eagerly awaiting this latest release. We actually thought it was coming out a lot earlier, but now finally the Justice League Dark animated film is available on digital, Blueray will be released on Feb. 7. Let me just start off by saying I am a huge fan of the Justice League Dark comic series. Deadman is one of my favorite DC characters as are John Constantine and Zatanna. The idea to have these characters team up to take on the “magic” and demonic threats to the DCU is in my opinion a stroke of geinus. Plus, we get to see them interact with each other and develop relationships. The fact that this is “R” rated also helps the way the characters speak and act remain very close to the source material.
So let’s get right into this. . . My god this is “Dark” and amazing. The first five minutes. . . Holy Shit. Ok, that needed to be said. For some reason people in Washington D.C. Metropolis and Gotham City really all over the world are seeing other people as demons or creatures. Justice League to the rescue right? Wrong. When magic is involved you gotta call in the experts.
We get really nice introductions to our main characters. Constantine scamming demons, Zatanna performing on stage, Jason Blood aka Etrigan the Demon, and an excellent backstory on Boston Brand aka Deadman. There’s enough of a reveal in the backstories of the character’s relationships that help to move things along. The inclusion of Batman, is a nice touch, especially the whole fish out of water aspect that he brings to the new group.
There was a giant shit scorpion/spider creature. Amazing…. Seriously is there any situation Batman can’t contend with. Deadman’s poop jokes were classic. I really like how we don’t get a reveal of the “villian” until into the second half of the film.
Then we get an amazing Jason Blood/Etrigan origin story. At this point you can tell that they were already thinking they’re gonna make more of these films. Swamp Thing making a cameo was a nice, and I can see why they had him appear. I think they could have had other characters from the comic in there as well but I understand not wanting to throw too many new characters in a story all at once.
The battle scene did a great job showing the scope and various types of spells and incantations in the arsenal of Zatanna, Constantine and others. I’m not going to reveal anything about the villian, if you know the comics you can figure it out before the reveal actually happens.
Overall: Was this the best DC animated film ever? Short answer no. It was very good but that honor still belongs to Under the Red Hood. Is it in the top 5, I’d say yes. The look, tone, humor and action sequences were all top notch. Deadman was perfect as comic relief and this was probably the best depiction of John Constantine I’ve seen, sorry Keanu. The story was good, not great. It moved along at a nice pace but was kind of all over the place. I liked it and was familiar with many, but not all, of the characters and I can see how this might be hard for everyone to follow. Also if you took out the flashbacks, which were actually much more necessary than just as exposition, your 75 minute movie is probably closer to 55-60 minutes. I mentioned earlier that I think they went into this with the idea of making more of these in the future. I really hope they do. There are a ton of characters that could “easily” be introduced in these films, like Frankenstein, Shade or Madam Xanadu just to name a few. They don’t have a lot of source material, only 40 issues, but I think the characters have enough enemies that you could make some original stuff. I’d give this 3.25 out of 4 stars.
What do you think? Did you like JLD? Let us know in the comments.
Image from warnerbros.com