What’s up, everybody? It’s Dash Jordan here and I’ve recently been thinking…I haven’t done a proper review of an animated film in a while, so why the hell not? Say what you will about Warner Bros. and DC Comics…I know I have. But, at least I can always count on DC Animation to be somewhat competent. Whenever the live-action DC movies drop the ball, the straight-to-video animated features always seem to come to the rescue. Not to say that Marvel doesn’t do well with their animated stuff, but…
Oh, god! Did you guys feel that cold chill too? Wierd. Anyway, let’s take a look and see what DC has for us today. Can they still put that old black magic spell on me?
…sorry, Marvel. You have a LOT of work to do.
‘Justice League Dark’ is an animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation that is set for DVD release tomorrow but is currently streaming digitally. The film focuses on Batman as he seeks out assistance from occult detective John Constantine and other supernaturally-gifted beings to uncover who or what is causing innocent people to start seeing demons around them, thus killing those they see.
Yeah, I know. Here’s another thing that I’m pretty sure we can all agree on; the animation is still top-notch. This is still quality animation that you can expect from DC and Warner Bros. In fact, I think it may have improved slightly. Mostly because of the imagination and attention to detail that went into the demon designs and action scenes. It’s all fast, fluent, and bombastic.
Now, I do want to take this time to address some of the early criticisms I’ve been hearing about this movie. Since this movie delves more into supernatural and horror elements, I have to say that the tone of this movie was pretty spot-on. Honestly, just accept the movie for what it is because it’s not your typical superhero film. Of course, that’s the major complaint that I’ve been hearing. To “those” critics, you’re honestly going to sit there and complain that ‘Justice League Dark’ is not a conventional superhero movie. So, just to clarify…people like you always complain about superhero movies being too conventional or traditional and being too afraid to try new things. But then, you want to complain about a superhero movie that wasn’t conventional and wasn’t afraid to try new things?
Not to say that the film itself is without its flaws. While I do enjoy Jason O’Mara’s voice as Batman, I felt like there was too much over-reliance with Batman. Seriously, I know that Batman is basically the Chuck Norris of comic-book heroes, but I feel as though that there was no real use for him. Show Batman and some of the other Justice League members, fine. But how about giving the real stars of this movie their time to shine. We know how awesome Batman is, we don’t need constant reminders.
Ugh! You know what? Maybe if we had less Batman, we would’ve had more of some of the other characters? Like Zatanna, she seemed interesting. Or Deadman, he was hilarious. Etrigan the Demon, he was pretty badass and kinda funny at times. Black Orchid, she…she was there. Oh, and what about friggin’ Swamp Thing?!? Yes, Swamp Thing! I mean, I’ll be honest, I know only a few things about the character but I’m mostly familiar with the 1982 adaptation from Wes Craven. Dated, I know. But, it was still good for what it was. It wasn’t until recently when I realized just how awesome and powerful Swamp Thing really is and it was perfectly showcased in this movie. Despite being marketed as a big deal in the movie and being voiced perfectly by actor Roger Cross, he only appears in two scenes. Whether it be in another animated feature or in a live-action reboot, let’s hope that we get to see more of him.
Much like ‘Suicide Squad’, however, this movie also has a pretty forgettable villain with magic. It’s a shame too because I know that they tried hard to build this guy up. I also appreciate how the writers told a pretty interesting who-done-it mystery. I’m not going to be a complete jerk and spoil it for you, so I’ll just say that it was going great up until the end. I never thought I would actually end up missing Enchantress.
Ah, how could I forget? While Batman may have outshined some of the other characters, there was one I forgot. One character that actually managed to outshine the Dark Knight himself. I’m talking about John Constantine(played by Matt Ryan).
For those of you who don’t know, Welsh actor Matt Ryan actually played the famed demonologist and “master” of the dark arts in the criminally short-lived NBC show of the same name. I’ve only seen a little of the show and I absolutely loved the character as his personality was finally portrayed properly. To be fair, it’s really not that hard to top Keanu Reeves’ Americanized portrayal from the 2005 bomb. But, Ryan was still amazing in the role and I’m glad to know that even after the show’s demise, DC & Warner Bros. were competent enough to continue giving the man work as John Constantine; this movie being one of them. I’m also happy to say that Matt Ryan STILL gives one hell of a performance…no pun intended. Ryan is so good that he actually manages to OUTSHINE Batman, no joke. Hopefully, the planets will align yet again and we get to see him again in live-action; especially in the upcoming live-action adaptation that Guillermo del Toro is currently working on. I think I speak for Matt Ryan and the writers of the show when I say, “get to work, wankers!”
I personally don’t know what some of these other critics are talking about, because this was one hell of a surprise from the DC Animated Universe…again, no pun intended. Aside from a lackluster villain and the over-reliance of Batman, this movie still has great writing, a fairly decent mystery, superb animation, and truly amazing voice performances; especially from Matt Ryan as John Constantine. I highly recommend this movie as it would be a welcomed addition to your DC Animation collection.
Whoa! Okay, okay. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish binge-watching a very underappreciated little TV show.
Don’t worry, guys. It won’t take me very long…friggin’ NBC. Until next time, Gotta Dash!
Written by Shane Moose
Special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!
Videos & Photos:
Justice League Dark(owned by Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment & Warner Home Video)
Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow(owned by MLG Productions 5, Marvel Enterprises & Lionsgate)
The Big Lebowski(owned by Gramercy Pictures, Working Title Films
& Polygram Filmed Entertainment)
Sanford & Son(owned by Tandem Productions, NorBud Productions & Sony Pictures Television)
Suicide Squad(owned by Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment & Atlas Entertainment)
Constantine(2014 TV Series)(owned by Ever After/Phantom Four Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television & Warner Bros. Television Distribution)