HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Justice League Dark
HTS Overall Score:75
Once again Warner Brothers is back with a new animated film in the DC universe for us to enjoy. This time it’s the much anticipated “Justice League Dark”, the first actual R rated DC animated film in the new 52 world (“The Killing Joke” really wasn’t part of the New 52 universe, so I’m counting that as “one off”). After reviewing it a couple of times I have to say that “Justice League Dark” doesn’t really push any major boundaries into the R rated world. We get to see some blood spray from wounds, and the occasional use of harsher language than say “Son of Batman”, but really, it’s not some blood-soaked Anime style movie where there’s blood and gore and guts everywhere with constant F bombs. With an R rating, I wouldn’t exactly give it to your 9 year old son to watch because it has Batman on the cover, but anyone who has kept up with DC’s latest New 52 animated series shouldn’t feel scared that there is some wild deviation to make it more adult than what has come before.
As with many of the DC animated film, “Justice League Dark” is a bit of a mixed bag. I find that this bag is filled with more good than bad, as is the norm, but you’ll find out really quickly that this particular movie is best enjoyed with some prior knowledge of the new characters to fully get everything happening in the adventure. The film opens with humans suddenly seeing hallucinations where people around them are suddenly turned into monsters. As a result they lash out in fear at these beasts only to come to a little bit later and realize those “beasts” were their friends and family members whose blood is on THEIR hands now. The Justice League is a bit confused, but can only conclude that there is some form of magic going on. Now, with super powers and alien beings the JLA is MORE than equipped to handle, but magic is a bit rarer and requires someone who dabbles in the arts himself. Thus, the only thing that Batman (Jason O’Mara reprising his role as the caped crusader) can think of to do is contact John Constantine (Matt Ryan).
Now Constantine and his merry friends are a WHOLE other ball of wax, and tend to have a different dynamic than the chummy JLA members are. Taking Batman up on his offer to find out what is going on, Bats travels along with Constantine, his associate Zatanna (Camilla Luddington), a dead circus performer, and an Arthurian knight bonded to an ancient demon in order to find out just what IS causing everyone to hallucinate. Along their way, Constantine just may find out that friends are not always friends and enemies, well, he’s got plenty of those.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90146[/img]I think that Warner Brothers didn’t have a lot of confidence in making this a Constantine film. They prominently display Batman all over the front cover and have him front and center in every picture, not to mention he tags along with Constantine and crew the whole time (despite being basically a mortal in a magical battle). He’s not even really important to the plot at ALL. In fact, they could have kicked out ALL the JLA members from the story and it would not have been even a minor hiccup to the main story. Constantine, Zatanna and the rest do a wonderful job at being DC’s version of “Doctor Strange” and jumping from magical being to magical being to find out who’s been causing all the havoc on earth, and it’s mostly glorious. The world of John Constantine has always been a fantastic world to delve into, and they do a great job of doing a nice balance between the darkness of his world and the lighter tone of the rest of the DC animated verse. However, there are times when it feels a bit too formulaic for its own good, especially with Bats tagging along and doing his normal stoic routine. Something that just feels odd and out of place considering.
Fans of the REAL John Constantine should be plenty pleased with most of “Justice League Dark”. It’s nice to see Zatanna, Jason Blood (and his demon half Etrigan), Richie and Destiny all make an appearance for the first time in animated form. For those of you who saw that atrocity that starred Keanu Reeves, then just wipe that memory from your mind and be satisfied that this is a much closer adaptation of the character as well as his vices and good parts. For all of the awkwardness that is Batman and the few cameos from the regular JLA making it feel a bit “lighter” than it should have, “Justice League Dark” is a fun entry into the DC animated world, and makes for a good deviation from the standard superhero movies out there.
Rated R for some disturbing violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90154[/img]If you’ve seen one of the DC animated films from Warner than you’ve good a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into here. Colors are strong, with deep primaries and all sorts of purples, reds, greens and the likes with the neon colored magical blasts, or flame burst from Etrigan. The movie takes place primarily in the darkness, thus black levels are paramount here. They tend to show good shadow detail, but do suffer from intermittent banding and a strange sort of softness to the image. Lines are solid and very crips, but that softness seems to keep it from looking as sharp as it should. Clarity of detail and image are quite nice, with no jaggies or other major artifacts to mar up the film. It’s a good-looking transfer, and as I said. If you’ve seen any of the other DC animated films in the New 52 universe, you’ll be quite familiar with the animation style and strange softness.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90162[/img]The main 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is more than capable of handling the action oriented film rather nicely. The dialog is strong and cleanly replicated at all times, while the surrounds get a workout with all the magical energy sizzling overhead and the sounds of city folk rumbling in the background. Vocals tend to shift a bit in the front soundstage due to the use of magic, but that’s something that’s not encode related, but more design oriented, and the I have to say that the surrounds are not AS powerful as I might have imagined. LFE is deep and guttural, accentuating the blasts and explosion that speckle the sound stage, and adds some nice weight in other pertinent areas as well (listen to the Batmobile roar and the rumble of the horse Destiny is riding at one point).
• A Sneak Peek at Teen Titans: The Judas Contract: An advance look at the next DC Universe Original Movie.
• The Story of Swamp Thing (Featurette): Born out of the imagination of Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, Justice League Dark's Swamp Thing had his own solo adventures throughout the history of DC. This documentary reveals the rich history of this fan favorite.
• Did You Know?: Constantine origin, Color of Magic, Black Orchid, and Deadman Casting (Featurette): The creators of Justice League Dark will reveal surprising behind-the-scenes tidbits about the characters – and the actors providing their voices – during production of the film.
• 2016 NY Comic Con Panel (Featurette): A look inside Justice League Dark's panel at New York Comic Con.
• Sneak Peek at Justice League: Gods and Monsters
• Sneak Peek at Justice League: Doom
• From the DC Vault – Two Bonus Episodes: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, "Dawn of the Dead Man!"Batman: The Brave and the Bold, "Trials of the Demon!"
Despite a few deviations from the original intent of having John Constantine come to the front as new antagonist, “Justice League Dark” manages to be a very solidly entertaining entry into the New 52 DC animated lineup that has been going on for quite a while. Fans of the “B team” of the JLA will get to see a full blow sword, sorcery and betrayal story that does a nice job at keeping to the original character and doesn’t push the R rated envelope as much as some people had feared. Warner Brothers once again brings us another good looking and sounding Blu-ray and the extras are just what the doctor ordered. Definitely worth a watch.
Starring: Matt Ryan, Camilla Luddington, Jason O'Mara
Directed by: Jay Oliva
Written by: J.M. DeMatteis, Ernie Altbacker
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 75 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Buy Justice League Dark On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Justice League Dark: Limited Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Worth A Watch
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