Sunday, July 13, 2014

'Justice League: War' animated movie review

I wanted to enjoy "Justice League: War"; I really did.

After all, I was pleasantly surprised by the story on which it's based, Geoff Johns' JUSTICE LEAGUE: ORIGIN (aka how the New 52 Justice League came to be).

Once I finally got my hands on a copy of "War," I watched it twice. Or rather, I tried to. When I started out on my second viewing, the combination of the need to sleep that night and a general disintrest in finishing and the need to get the DVD back to the library in time meant I watched about half of it. So much for getting any additional insight the second time around ...; but honestly, I think my initial ideas were spot on.

Basically, if you're into slugfests, you'll enjoy "War." Sadly, that's all it is because insightful characterization just doesn't happen.

Is it just me or since Bruce Timm left, haven't all of DC Comics' original animated movies lacked that certain special "something"? Just sayin'! Anyway, back to "War". ...

Whether it's hero vs. hero or the soon-to-be Justice League vs. Darkseid, there are a ton of fights. There are so many of them I got numbed to them by the time the story reached its halfway point. Seriously, at what point does what the Justice Leaguers throw at Darkseid hurt him and when isn't it effective? There's no telling -- one of my ongoing issues with fights in animation. Needless to say, as "War" progressed, I just couldn't care less. It's hard to make a climactic fight matter when there's no distinguishable climax.

The relationship among the protagonists don't do much for me either. The tension/chemistry between Green Lantern and Batman that Johns wrote so well just doesn't translate in this animated movie.

Justin Kirk's GL comes off as bitter and jealous of the Dark Knight instead of being awed, leary and even impressed as Green Lantern is in Johns' story. Recasting Nathan Fillion would have helped this chemistry tremendously. I realize the "Castle" star is a busy guy, but having heard him as Green Lantern, there's nobody else for me.

Jason O'Mara voices Batman, just as he does in "Son of Batman." He puts forth a solid effort, but still comes off as a weak man's Kevin Conroy/Bruce Greenwood. Had O'Mara had Fillion's Green Lantern as a foil, their back-and-forth would have been much more fun.

There's also no chemistry between Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan) and Superman (Alan Tudyk). Monaghan doesn't quite come close to the vibrancy of Wonder Woman in the original story, but she gives the Amazon Princess the necessary toughness and is by far the most likeable character in "War."

Tudyk's Superman is just plan flat. The Man of Steel is characterized even more as a bull in the china shop than his introduction in ORIGIN and honestly doesn't go much past that one dimensional characterization. in "War," Superman's not so much the greatest of all DC heroes as he is the one to prove he's the most powerful.

And don't get me started on the bratty take of Billy Batson, much less Victor Stone. "Criminal Minds" actor Shemar Moore has a great voice for Stone (aka Cyborg), but the screenplay doesn't sell me on his "daddy issues" or that Batson, as Shazam, eventually gets through to Stone about what he can do for the Justice League.

The subplot of the elder Stone's ongoing problems with relating to his son seems forced. What little emotional weight there is in thanks to Moore's performance -- not the script he was given. The writers couldn't get me to care about Stone's, well, cold father, much less Stone himself.

Grade: C+

Personally, Cyborg remains an uninteresting character and a useless addition to the Justice League. I'm not sure why DC can't do more with the character and why more fans can't see past the fact that the Powers That Be have added Cyborg to the roster as nothing more than to fill a race quota. If writers can't add any more depth to Cyborg, why is he in the Justice League at all?

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