What is it?
A mature-audiences animated feature based on DC Comics occult characters.
Who’s it for?
Comic book and anime fans with a taste for urban fantasy and action.
Justice League Dark is a new animated home video release from DC Entertainment. It’s an adaptation of the comic from DC’s New 52 relaunch. The film is mature in tone and features great action and visual compositions. However, the pacing is bogged down by dull characterizations and dialogue scenes with limited motion. Fans of DC should find this a fair outing.
The film’s main deficiencies are the script and limited animation budget. The plot fails to provide much characterization as it introduces the large cast. Batman is a minor character as are the rest of the Justice League (Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern). John Constantine is the lead, but he’s hardly a protagonist. Matt Ryan, who performed the role in the Constantine television series, lends his talents again and he’s every bit as wooden here as he was in live-action. It’s a disappointment.
The limited animation budget adds to the character problems. The film feels very still at times and it detracts from dialogue scenes. Conversations go on for minutes at a time without facial expressions for the non-speaking characters. I found it hard to really root for anyone. The closest thing to a protagonist is Jason Blood/Etrigan the Demon, a semi-obscure DC character. He’s quite fun on the page, but a little clichéd here.
The action beats are where enjoyment can be found. The large cast of characters play a welcome part in sequences that showcase their unique abilities. Director, Jay Oliva’s compositions are a major success in these scenes. The battles are dynamic and the computer rendered effects really shine. The action is damn good. No small part of this is the smoothness of the computer-animated magic elements which complement the staccato hand-drawn work.
This is certainly not the best DC Animated outing (Flashpoint), but for fans of the genre it provides some exciting action sequences and showcases some of the more unusual characters like Deadman, Swamp Thing & The Demon. This is a film for comic fans. If you aren’t already drinking the cool aid, don’t start here.
P.S. There’s a shit monster in the movie. I had to get that off my chest.