Feb 27, 2017

[Movies] Justice League Dark (2016)

Our continued adventures in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies seems to be doing its best to celebrate the stories of the New 52 reboot. A good segment of said movies are dedicated to Batman-centric titles while others do spotlight other characters. But more often than not we see other characters and how they interact with Batman.

I had higher hopes for Justice League Dark as it was a story meant to explore the magical side of the DC Comics world, which is always a rather distinct and vibrant part of their line-up that feels rather distinct from how Marvel tackles magic.

And after the disappointment of Batman: The Killing Joke, I was really hoping that this would be a home run of sorts. And while we did get some good magic action with this latest direct-to-video animated feature, there were still some odd bits about it that kept me from loving it from start to finish.

But hey, some great voice acting choices though.

Synopsis: Justice League Dark is a 2017 animated movie directed by Jay Oliva. Oliva has worked on a number of these New 52-based DC Universe Animated Original Movies.

People all over the world start to see demonic figures everyone and this causes more and more incidents of panic and confusion. The Justice League do their best to stop people from hurting one another while experiencing these delusions but they are at a loss on how to determine the cause of things. And when Batman (Jason O'Mara) returns to Wayne Manor, he finds the word "Constantine" written repeatedly on his walls.

Batman then approaches Zatanna (Camilla Luddington) to ask about Constantine, but then Deadman (Nicholas Turturro) then possesses Batman to stress that the two need to speak to John Constantine. In a prior flashback, we are introduced to Constantine (Matt Ryan) at a poker game with the Demons Three and Jason Blood (Ray Chase). And there we see how he manages to manipulate the Demons into giving him the Dreamstone while hearing the ire of the Demons Three at the same time.

What I Liked: It was nice that Ryan got to voice Constantine again after the cancellation of his live-action series for the same character. He was pretty good at the role and even his voice still nicely fits the role. And while I'm not necessarily a big fan of this New 52 version of Constantine that uses magic a lot more than his original incarnation, they still captured a lot of what makes John such a fascinating character in this show.

As always, the action in the movie was pretty great at the team that supports these DC animated features really knows how to animate hand-to-hand combat well enough. And when we get the full team of magically-related characters all gathered together as this more magically-included version of the Justice League, then things really get going.

What Could Have Been Better: The inclusion of Batman in the story felt like a safe move to ensure that the movie still had a character people would easily associate with. And I wish that we had just let the magic users take center stage on their own and do their thing to show everyone just how awesome this side of the DC Universe can be. Plus Constatine is awesome, right?

Overall story had a weird number of twists and turns that didn't quite carry through in the story well and so other parts felt either confusing or too drawn out. And then we get Felix Faust (Enrico Colantoni) back in the mix of things since most magical problems in the DC Universe somehow involve Faust in one way or another. We need bigger ideas.

TL;DR: Justice League Dark is still one of the better releases for these DC animated movies. There's a lot of great action and some fun character moments but more importantly we get Matt Ryan as John Constantine again. So the movie gets 3.5 demonic creatures out of a possible 5.

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