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"Justice League War" Mistakes Violence for Having A Point

Justice League War
Justice League War
DC Comics, Warner Bros

"Justice League War" is the latest DC animated feature, adapting Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's first arc on The New 52's "Justice League." All the big guns are there, trading quips and throwing punches everywhere. It gets so violent and quote-unquote mature that you start to wonder why you're watching it.

The story gets right into it without really establishing the world it takes place in. There's CCTV footage of someone kidnapping people and it being blamed on Batman; Green Lantern rescues a woman and gets asked what he's charging for his services. Woman Woman has demonstrations against her where she's declared to dress like a whore.

The voice cast mostly fits but feels slightly off. Justin Kirk as Green Lantern sounds snide more than cocky. Alan Tudyk as Superman is slightly nasal. Michelle Monahan's Wonder Woman sounds unconfident. Jason O'Mara is something of a revelation as Batman though, sounding less like he's trying to be scary and channeling a natural gravel into a no-nonsense, direct tone. Maybe Batman doesn't have to be played like a boogeyman. Sean Astin also has a perfect mix of misplaced confidence and youthful arrogance to make him charming, and Christopher Gorham (my recent pick to play Daredevil in the Netflix series) has Flash run his sentences together just enough to be understandable.

The tone is mostly dark and mildly violent, but inconsistent. Basically, alien robot monsters are coming through portals and abducting people in greater and greater numbers, to where the various heroes who will make up the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Shazam) all end up tussling and teaming up. Some the heroes have organic reasons for meeting, like GL and Bats deciding to talk to Superman since he too is an alien, but the Flash gets into it just because he's running around and drops by the lab where Cyborg is fighting coincidentally. The plot is really an excuse for big action pieces where heroes slice and smash up parademons. They're so casually intensely violent that when they get interspersed with something like Wonder Woman marveling at ice cream, it feels out of place. Also, Superman kills a bad guy in this movie too. This is not a children's movie. It might be more violent than "Man of Steel."

Plus I'm mildly amazed at the language in this flick. Granted I've grown up with anime and Adult Swim, but I'm also a parent, and Green Lantern calling Batman a douchebag or Cyborg dropping a "shit" is a bit much. I don't know if the point of this movie was a dry-run of a big screen "Justice League" but nothing about this movie is mature, so I don't know why the language leans that way.

All in all, "War" is big, flashy and has a decent enough threat to warrant a team of superheroes. The catch is it doesn't really have a point. Under all the "dark and gritty," I don't know these characters well enough to care if they win. Honestly, I'd almost prefer they took the superheroes out and we'd be left with a cyborg zombie horror movie. Because this isn't a Justice League you want to see twice.