Justice League Dark
Justice League Dark 2017
While this isn’t the first comic book movie to be released in 2017, this is the first 2017 comic book movie that I’ve gotten around to watching. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of DC’s animated movies and especially those directed by Jay Oliva. There’s just something about his action and style that gets to me every time. This is also the next in the continuing series of movies loosely connected continuity surrounding the expanding Justice League. And this had the right amount of action, humor, and drama to keep me hooked from beginning to end. Even though I was only vaguely familiar with many of the characters in this film, I connected with them and enjoyed this from beginning to end. Especially with its connection to the unfairly cancelled NBC series Constantine. My only real gripe with this film is that once again it pushed Batman front and center when he had no real reason to be included in this story other than the fact that he is DC’s cash cow and has to be included in every possible thing they do.
While this didn’t get as much press as the Killing Joke did, this is the second DC Animated film to get an R rating and it lives up to its name in the first five minutes. We get to see a handful of scenes where regular people get driven insane where they see regular people as demons and have to be stopped by Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. The only difference is that in two of the cases, they had already killed before they are stopped, and in the last case the woman kills herself. And while Batman initially refutes the idea that magic is causing the madness, he ends up recruiting some new magic-knowledgeable heroes who are introduced in generally efficient ways despite most of them being underutilized in the film universe. And while it’s still heavily male-dominated, Zatanna plays a strong role that’s not pushed off to the side or treated as merely a love interest. Though the film doesn’t entirely do away from any sort of romance since she does have a history with Constantine and it does get brought up a few times.
What’s really great about this film is that it brings back Matt Ryan as the voice of Constantine. Not only that, but it also brings back another actor from the NBC series who played a secondary character Ritchie. Jeremy Davies played in two episodes and does a great job in his small role here. Though Felix Faust was also in the series and is played here by Enrico Colantoni instead. The rest of the cast does their roles well with Jason O’Mara returning yet again as the voice of Batman. The other lesser known characters of Deadman and Jason Blood slash Etrigan the Demon with a small appearance by Swamp Thing. Both Deadman and Etrigan do get their moments of backstory, even though they never explain why Etrigan generally only speaks in rhyming couplets. The rhyming is something that could be handled very badly, but the film includes just enough to get the gist of it, and plays with it a couple times towards the end so it doesn’t ever get annoying. Deadman also seemed like he could have been a difficult character to adapt, since only certain people could see him at any given time, and he can generally only interact with the real world when he’s possessing someone else’s body, but his rules were spelled out relatively early on and the film rarely, if ever, broke them.
Like with many of these animated films, it’s not just about the action and a villain to fight, there’s a bit of mystery and misdirection. There is plenty here with a couple twists thrown in for good measure, and they do work out in a way where you don’t see them coming, but they make sense in retrospect. In other words, they aren’t just twists for twist’s sake. There’s also plenty of humor mixed in with the action, some of Batman’s reactions were especially funny like his nonplussed reaction to the defeat of a poop demon. The addition of magic also created plenty of inventive action scenes unlike the typical martial arts style combat seen in most of the Batman movies previously. Here, we get to see plenty of demons, fireballs, and whatnot light up the screen. It’s movies like these that give me hope for the future of DC Animation which has been a little bit more hit and miss in the recent year or two. I just hope that I like the next couple just as much as I liked this one. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.