With ‘Justice League’ coming out shortly, DC have released their newest animation, ‘Justice League Dark’, directed by Jay Oliva and written by Ernie Altbacker and J. M. DeMatteis. It’s not based entirely off of the comics of the same name, and don’t expect it to set up ‘Justice League’ in any way whatsoever as we only see the team for about two minutes in total.
Instead, ‘Justice League Dark’ sees Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) team up with an unlikely group of heroes following a situation occurring around the world where previously innocent people are committing crimes due to visions of demons plaguing their world. Something supernatural is at play which the Justice League are ill-equipped to deal with, and so Batman enlists the help of Constantine (Matt Ryan), wizard and hunter of dark magic, and Zatanna (Camilla Luddington), a stage magician who actually performs using real magic. He’s also got Deadman on his side, a deceased trapeze artist who can possess living bodies, and Jason Blood, who is eternally bound to the demon Etrigan and speaks only in rhyme. They all have to work together to save the world from the mysterious force that is causing so much destruction, but the real focus of the story is the past behind the characters and the relationships they now possess.
‘Justice League Dark’ gives us a compelling introduction, which then allows for excellent character development and relationship building. We’re shown the lesser-known characters of DC – it means you’ll need to know a little bit about the DC universe before you watch it, but it’s a great story with some great characters.
You might find it a little surprising at points as well, as the focus is on the supernatural rather than the realism of sorts that we get with other Batman films. The backstory was a bit cheesy (maybe a bit too ‘Lord of the Rings’ if you know what I mean) but don’t let all of the magical stuff put you off – it’s still true to the comics, just not so grounded in reality.
The plot is interesting and the action exciting, but by far the best bit of the film was the relationship explored between Batman and the supernatural. For once, Batman is pushed to the sidelines due to his distaste for magic, meaning that his only contributions are a Batarang every so often and a disgruntled “Hmm” at the end of each scene. It’s a good move to play though, as it develops him whilst also allowing us to focus on the other characters such as Zatanna and Constantine.
Talking of Constantine, he’s a really great addition to the film – Ryan brings both comedy and darkness with his strong accent and bitter outlook, and he’s got a lot of funny lines. The film is quite humorous in general but more in a subtle way, with lines feeling less forced than they have done in other DC animations. Unfortunately the humour and wit isn’t quite as powerful as if they were part of a real life movie, but this just seems to be something specific with animation that is hard to combat. The voice acting is all really well done though, and the fast-paced animation brings the whole story to life in what’s definitely been one of the better Batman animations to have come out recently.
Justice League Dark at CeX
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