by Brendan Foley
Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.
The last time we covered a DC film in this column it, um, it did not go well.
With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Springtime for Luthor blasting onto screen and into our…hearts(?), and a giant proposed slate of films bringing the DC pantheon to life with the long-term plan of showing the formation of the Justice League, we wanted to to invite our friends and contributors to join us in checking out Justice League: War.
After all, animation has been the source of iconic moments and films for these characters for years now, with everything from Mask of the Phantasm, Subzero, or even more recent efforts like Under the Red Hood or the Bryan Cranston-led Batman: Year One adaptation. In adapting the debut arc of the revamped Justice League of DC’s New 52 line, maybe director Jay Oliva and writer Heath Corson gave new life to a time-hallowed universe.
Based on preliminary responses it-
@TheTrueBrendanF its so fucking bad
— The Pastor’s Husband (@liamrulz) March 24, 2016
@TheTrueBrendanF I actually uttered the words "I'm too old for this shit."
— Jacob (@JEBermanator) March 24, 2016
Next Week’s Pick:
No special tie-ins this week, aside from the fact that we like to cover Philadelphia movies — just a well-regarded and underseen 1985 cop movie that finds its way from the big city to Amish Country. When a young Amish boy witnesses a murder, honest Philly cop John Book uncovers a rotten element within his own police department. Harrison Ford and Danny Glover are good cop and bad cop in Witness, an acclaimed thriller directed by Peter Weir. Catch it streaming on Netflix!
Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)cinapse.co!
Justice League: War is…not good. The easiest way to elaborate on this is a simple summation of the film itself — namely “Imagine if The Avengers started immediately with the Battle of New York, and didn’t bother with previous movies to allow you to get to know and like these characters.
Also, almost everyone is an asshole.”
The vaunted DC Animated Universe has had some real winners (Mask of the Phantasm, Wonder Woman, Under the Red Hood, Flashpoint), but this JL Origin story based on DC’s “New 52” reboot is a total wash. There are some clever bits and fun action, but it’s a total jumble. Only Cyborg gets much explanation while everyone else is supposedly meeting for the first time ever (except Green Lantern and Flash, who are on a Secret Identity Name Basis?), and the movie gives us little reason to care when so-and-so gets injured or someone-else gets captured. The voice actors aren’t bad, but have little to play off of either in terms of team dynamics (other than “We’re all dicks!”) or a worthy adversary.
(Oh yeah, the movie wastes Darkseid. The ruler of Apokolips is a rote stand-in for any world conqueror with nothing except a bad version of Kirby’s design — the New 52 models do not look good in animation — to set him apart.)
Skip this one and check out The New Frontier instead. (@BLCAgnew)
While my #1 favorite superhero is Batman, my numbers 2–50 all are Marvel characters. What does that mean? It means that outside of all things Gotham, I’m not very interested in the DC world. Superman is simply the worst.
With this in mind, very few have been able to write the Kryptonian god-man in a way that can get me interested in his rather one dimensional personality. Due in large part to the mere involvement of Superman, JLA has never been my thing. Now, if you give me a story where Superman’s inability to reason as a human makes him a villain (like Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns), I’m all in.
Enter Justice League: War, a film that is part of the ever growing library of feature length animated comic book movies not geared towards children.
To be fair to the film, the JLA catalog (and my hatred for Superman) is much more to blame for my disinterest than the film. The animation is good, the voice cast consists of several actors I love, and it even features Superman having a brief turn towards uncontrolled mania which forces my favorite hero to save the day (as per usual). For all purposes, it’s well done.
But meh… (@thepaintedman)
A vast improvement over the story arc it was adapted from, inasmuch as it didn’t cost me 24 dollars and isn’t spread out over six interminable monthly installments, War is still a massive step down from the previous highs of the DC Animated Universe. Things like character development and interesting stories have been aggressively jettisoned, replaced with an endless string of stultifying action sequences, which only pause for brief moments of sporadically amusing banter.
The film tries to have it both ways, wanting to act as an introductory tale to a new world while glossing over anything remotely resembling a proper introductions for any of its characters (the most egregious moment of which is when the filmmakers throw up their hands and just declare “Okay, fuck it. He’s just Shazam now…”)
On top of that, these versions of classic heroes may be “new”, but are in no way “improved”. Granted, “Relentlessly Sarcastic Batman” is alright, and Hal Jordan and Barry Allen have always sucked, so that’s a lateral move at worst. But look at everyone else:
SUPERMAN: Wrote off a series of kidnapped citizens as “life in the big city” CYBORG: Instead of a tragic accident, gains his powers by being an idiot SHAZAM: Now a horned up juvenile delinquent that keeps macking on Wonder Woman
WONDER WOMAN: Actually, Wonder Woman is the best part, though it’s weird that she’s basically comic relief. Apparently the writer watched Hercules In New York and added boobs
DARKSEID: Punches shit. If you don’t know anything about Darkseid, know this: Darkseid does not run around punching shit.
As the start to a new series of adventures for the Justice League, it’s a bust. But as a potential unwitting precursor to terrible franchise decisions to come? I guess we’ll all find out this weekend… (Victor Pryor)
A garish piece of shit from the first frame to the last wretched joke (cribbed almost word-for-word from the end of Mystery Men) Justice League: War is a DC superhero films that seems to actively despise every single DC character with the exception of Batman (the only other character to make it out unscathed is The Flash, primarily because the film has no interest in him), War boasts shit-ugly animation, wretched storytelling, and a voice cast that is either bland to the point of anonymity or appear to be actually embarrassed by the words they have to say (Alan Tudyk voices Superman with all the enthusiasm of a man reading notes while held at gunpoint, while Michelle Monaghan just seems profoundly confused as Wonder Woman). When it isn’t sucking off the Caped Crusader, War is a non-stop parade of idiocy and ugliness, raking these beloved childhood heroes through the muck with bad language, appalling violence (Darkseid spends the entire final fight gushing a fountain of blood out of his eye) and a bizarre directive to make every single one of these characters either a gigantic asshole, an ineffectual idiot, or both (you will want Hal Jordan to be shot in the face within a minute of him opening his mouth for the first time).
Characters change with time and it can be fun and necessary to give new shades and perspectives to time-honored characters. But is there really anyone out there that grew up loving the DC pantheon and thought, ‘You know what would make this better? If every single character just fucking sucked.’ I guess these people must exist, because they made Justice League: War.
(Also this movie twice, TWICE, refers to Superman as a “big gun”. Watch The Iron Giant and get better at your job, twits.) (@TheTrueBrendanF)
These DC Animated movies are an incredibly mixed bag. A few are really great. Some are downright awful. Most are kind of blah. And to add a bit of confusion, most viewers don’t agree on which are which.
Justice League: War takes the “New 52” approach, chucking aside classic continuity in favor of a rebooted Universe. Unfortunately it seems symptomatic of the darker, harder-edged approach that ignores audiences of men or children in favor of man-children. Many of these “heroes” constantly bicker, curse, act selfishly, and cause widespread property damage while acting in brash arrogance. It’s a bit exhausting.
One thing I won’t blame this movie for, though, is hitting the ground running. Yes, it’s an abrupt start for all the heroes to simply enter the picture with unelaborated backstories, but for all the bellowing from comics fans about constant origin stories, this particular tale acted on that criticism, so kudos for that.
As this franchise continues (a direct sequel is already out at this time, as well as other stories in the Universe), I hope that this false step is simply the dynamics of a scripted rough start. These heroes need to mature, put aside their differences, and work together if they want us to believe in them. But this franchise starter’s new frontier ain’t no New Frontier. (@VforVashaw)
Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!