The Justice League gets a strange visitor in the form of an parallel Earth version of Lex Luthor. This Luthor is quite different from the one they know – he’s good, he’s the last surviving member of the Justice League on his planet and he’s asking them to help him save his world. A group of super villains called The Crime Syndicate are not only threatening the life on their planet, but potentially could erase the existence of all life on every parallel world in the universe.
I’m usually impressed with animated DC films. I always say that, but there’s a consistent quality to them and rarely I end up disappointed. The one major misstep was with Justice League: War for me. Yet, care given to the story, characters and the animation – and again it pays off here.
The stakes are high as the Justice League embark on a parallel Earth adventure. Arriving on this parallel Earth we meet all new mismatched heroes and villains. The designs and look of them make them more interesting than simply being mirrored characters of our heroes. I particularly liked The Jester who we meet briefly in the beginning and the idea of villain goons becoming ‘Made Men’, in which for their loyalty to the baddies they are given their own super powers.
The action and animation is exciting with the super fights. All our heroes are given some worthy adversaries to face off against and in most cases they seem stronger than our heroes.
There’s some genuine tension during some of the encounters. It never gets old for me when DC heroes get punched, they fly back and slam into a wall, a boulder or building and it just breaks apart and gets demolished when they hit it. I always get a kick out of that!
With so many Justice members it can be tough to balance all of them and give them equal screentime, but that’s always going to be a problem. Here, some come to the forefront more than others and it didn’t bother me at all. It would be silly to just awkwardly give some characters more to do because they’re attempting to make them all equal in the story. This story didn’t require that. Plus, you never forget about the whole team.
Instead that extra time that might have gone to more fight scenes is given to more personal moments for other Leaguers to have. Particularly Martian Manhunter who makes a connection to the other Earth’s President’s daughter while she deals with a rocky relationship with her father. It becomes a quiet, unusual detour in the story, but it worked for me and did leave some emotional resonance in the end.
Voice casting has always been a strong element in the DC animated films. Here, it’s no different. Admittedly, I bring my own baggage with me when it comes to the voices of Superman and Batman. Tim Daly and especially Kevin Conroy are so entrenched in my mind as Superman and Batman that when the characters speak and I don’t hear them I get a slight twinge. So to my ear Mark Harmon and William Baldwin fulfill their roles as the characters, but don’t particularly stand out.
I did like James Woods as Owl Man. He and Superwoman are quite the twisted couple. Woods has a very nuanced, calming voice when he’s saying the most evil things. Things build to a confrontation where Batman arrives late and has to take care of Owl Man and it’s immediately clear it won’t be such an easy fight for him.
There’s a fun blatant Aliens reference during a fight on the Watch Tower and some surprise cameos by other DC heroes. It’s a engaging epic story worthy of the Justice League and should be very satisfying to fans.
As I was watching this and seeing how they manage to tell such a compelling story with these epically large characters. it inevitably makes me wonder how the long-awaited live-action Justice League movies will fare in comparison to these animated adventures. It really gets my wheels turning on how director Zack Snyder and his cast will bring these characters to live and whether it will be done as well as the animated DC division has done. I just can’t help it.