Guys, I have some BREAKING NEWS… I like to watch things other than horror films! Okay, okay, I don’t need to be so obnoxious about it, but you’d be surprised at how many times I’ve gotten flack for reviewing things other than straight up horror flicks on this site. I’ve probably lost regular readers because of my reviews of No Holds Barred and Son of Batman, but quite frankly, I do this for myself, because it’s fun, and because I enjoy writing about the things that I watch. So, if I haven’t lost you already, read on, my friend, and enjoy my review of Jay Oliva’s Justice League Dark.
Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to Google search for local comic book shops. Now, I haven’t been inside of a physical comic shop in years, so I wasn’t even sure I’d find any within a 50 mile radius. To my surprise, I found a brand new shop, open only a few months, and had a blast talking to the owner. I purchased a few random issues I had been interested in recently and thought, with my renewed fascination with superheros, that this would be a perfect time to review the newly released Justice League Dark animated film that has been on my shelf for over a month now.
There is an increase in criminal activity, but because of a strange involvement with magic, the Justice League’s regular team of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more, isn’t quite prepared to take on the forces responsible. Batman enlists the help of John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan, television’s Constantine), along with a few other unlikely allies, in this new fight against some very dark forces.
Justice League Dark is the newest DC Universe animated film. While it may appeal mostly to hardcore fans of the comic series or DC comics in general, there is something here for a lot of other folks, I feel, as well. For starters, this film is much darker than most animated super hero adventures you may have experienced in the past. It is kid-friendly, but really is aimed for an older audience. There is some curse words thrown around, including a few ‘asses’ and even one ‘shit,’ but what struck me the most was the fact that within the first three and a half minutes of the movie, there was an on-screen body count higher than most horror films I’ve seen in the last five years. It was surprising, but I absolutely loved this mix of two of my favorite things — super heroes and horror.
In addition to the more adult language and content, the characters themselves are much darker than your average hero. Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Boston Brand aka Deadman, and more importantly, the main protagonist of Justice League Dark, John Constantine, are all heavily involved with the darker side of magic. You don’t need to know the true origin stories of these characters to see what they are all about, which was great for me because I truthfully am not fully aware of the everyone’s backgrounds. Director Jay Oliva and his team of writers did a wonderful job of making sure everyone could follow along with what was unfolding in this particular story, while not bogging things down with unnecessary amounts of origin material.
In some of my other animated comic reviews, most of which were also directed by Oliva, I mentioned that the art style wasn’t my favorite. With a few more of these films under my belt, however, it is starting the grow on me. The best part about it is actually the fact that, during the film, I sometimes forgot I was even watching an animated production. This is due to the fantastic voice acting of the entire cast. Matt Ryan, who just so happens to have also played Constantine on the television series, does remarkably as the character in Justice League Dark and his on-screen cohorts are no different. Camilla Luddington as Zatanna, Jason O’Mara who has played Batman a number of times already, and the rest of the cast all did wonderfully and I quite honestly cannot choose my favorite amongst them.
If you are a fan of DC comics, Batman and the Justice League, Constantine, or resuper hero flicks in general, you should most certainly add Justice League Dark to your watch list. It is a wonderful way of watching your favorite characters jump from the pages of your comic collection to your television screen without having to wait for the next Hollywood blockbuster super hero flick.
All of the latest DC animated releases have come with some very cool collectible figurines and Justice League Dark is no different. The limited Blu-ray release not only comes with a John Constantine figure, but also bunch of bonus features explaining the origins of the film’s heroes, trivia facts, and more. You can pick up your very own copy from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment today.
This one gets a final rating of 4 rhyming demons out of 5 from yours truly.