Justice League Dark: Apokolips War; Dir – Christina Sotta
Rating – /Must see if you’re a fan/
It started in 2013, when Flash ran through the barrier of space and time in Justice “League: The Flashpoint Paradox” to save his mom, and kickstarted this animated VOD franchise. Now seven years and 15 movies later, the DCAMU comes to an end, or at least this version does (WB has already released new images from “Superman: Man of War” with a complete redesign). Though the franchise had a great start from Flashpoint. it had a pretty uneven track record. There have been few very entertaining movies and there have some complete duds, fortunately, “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” one best movies to come out of WB Animation Studio.
For the most part the DCAMU has been a testing ground for Warner Bros, to see what characters and story-lines are appreciated by the fans. The Suicide Squad movie got made because of the popularity of its animated counterpart, and it looks like the Justice League Dark animated movie had a huge effect on WB green-lighting the Bad Robot produced Justice League Dark HBOmax series. In that regard, this movie can act as a huge template for WB moving forward with any live-action Justice League movie. Now, before I go ahead, I should clarify that there are going to minor spoilers in this review. So, if you haven’t watched the movie yet, go watch it and then come back.
First of all, I don’t know why this movie is called “Justice League Dark”, it should just be called Constantine with the Justice League. But they are not the only ones here, this movie features almost every character that has appeared so far in the DCAMU movie with teams like Suicide Squad and Teen Titans, so if you’re a DC comics fan you’ll have fun just by pointing out your favorite characters. It also helps that all the characters are kept true to their nature in the comics unlike most adaptations. What isn’t kept true to nature is the New-52 comic series that this movie is adapted from, the story is changed a lot in order to serve what they’re trying to do. And I’m not complaining either, the story here is really good, it is definitely one of the most plot-heavy DC animated movie ventures. The script does a great job of juggling all these characters and giving each team a worthy agenda to fulfill, which truly makes it feel epic.
The story is told from John Constantine’s perspective, and he definitely has the best story arc. The story begins with the Justice League preparing an attack on Apokolips, which turns out to be a trap set by Darkseid. The League loses terribly and a lot of people die including Zatanna, which causes Constantine to flee and he spends the next two years hiding and drinking in guilt. Until one day Clark Kent and Raven pay a visit to him, so Constantine can track down Damian Wayne for them. Superman is powerless in this reality as Darkseid has fused liquid Kryptonite in his blood, while the rest of the league has become Darkseid’s mind-controlled minions with Batman as their boss. Clark Kent, Raven, Constantine, and Damian together unite the rest of the surviving heroes on Earth, to fight back on Apokolips one last time.
The animation certainly captures the scope and finality of the story, from devastated landscapes to the hellish expanse of Apokolips. This definitely feels like an Endgame type story. Speaking of Endgame, the MCU influence is very clearly evident here. After decades of fighting over their difference and trying to stand apart, looks like we are finally entering a time when both the companies are owning up their similarities. From plot similarities with Infinity War and Endgame to Constantine being made into an edgier version of Doctor strange and King Shark saying only one thing like Groot, it feels like DC is trying to see if they can pass on these successful formulas into the big screen.
The movie also really owns up to the “Dark” in it’s title as it’s probably the bleakest entry into the DCAU yet, with some of our favorite heroes being slaughtered like they’re nothing. The violence is graphic and their implication are real, which you’re gonna love if you are a DC fan like but for kids, the darkness can be a little too much. But it’s not all grim, there are great jokes and funny moments in between all the action and mayhem from characters like Etrigan and Harley Quinn.
What really surprised me about the movie was how well it fleshed out the relationships and characters in this movie in a runtime of just 90 minutes. I didn’t expect to get emotional watching this, but kudos to the writer E.J. Altbacker for being able to deliver such powerful emotional moments in a movie where so much else is going on. Constantine and Superman both have a sort of redemption story arc which I really got behind and the Damian-Raven relationship was one of my favorite things. Also, there is a scene in the latter half of the movie involving Batman and Damian which really got me emotional. The voice acting is top notch here, with Matt Ryan’s Constantine being the standout, whose 7 year reign as the Hellblazer character.
“Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is a really well-made entertaining ride that manages to give its heroes a worthy finale as we say goodbye to them one last time. In the end as Flash runs towards Flashpoint one more time, ending this universe just the way he started it, we feel both saddened by the loss of our current heroes as our heart starts beating in excitement. thinking about the countless possibilities the new DC animated universe holds.