Justice League Dark stars, Matt Ryan (Constantine, Flypaper), Jason O’Mara (Son of Batman, Resident Evil: Extinction), Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy, Tomb Raider), Jeremy Davies (Constantine, Lost) and is directed by Jay Oliva (Justice League: War, Batman: Assault on Arkham).
When a supernatural presence begins to plague the human world, a team of magical beings are recruited by Batman to defend Earth. The team of John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman and Jason Blood, form the Justice League Dark and together only they can defended the magical powers, the JLA can’t handle.
So, similar to when DC released their Suicide Squad animated film, to prepare audiences for the live-action release, we now have a DC animated version of the Justice League Dark, with a live-action film in the works. I loved the Suicide Squad animated film, which was called Batman: Assault on Arkham but was all about the Suicide Squad, and now I thought Justice League Dark was… OK, I just hope the live-action counterpart doesn’t turn out like 2016’s Suicide Squad.
First of all, Matt Ryan returns as the voice of Constantine after his TV show was cancelled and he’s every bit of an asshole he was before. To me, Constantine the show, was my favorite of all the DC shows and I was devastated when NBC let it go. Well now’s he’s back and despite what the poster would have you believe, the story focuses mainly on him. I loved this because not only was it refreshing to see a different face leading the charge but his sarcasm, wit and distinct tie, bleeds into the animated world just as perfectly as it did in live-action. Matt Ryan did a great job with the voice work and all round the cast was solid.
Like almost all the DC animated films, the animation itself is really well done. There’s exciting action scenes, that are all animated crisply and the way each member of the team used their powers, was unique and a lot of fun to watch. Deadman especially was the one I enjoyed watching in battle the most because the way he transports from body to body, was creative and a kinda creepy visual.
This is called Justice League Dark and it’s for a good reason. The opening sequence, shows how the supernatural beings are affecting regular civilians and it gets rather scary for an animated film. My problem with that however is, the tone it sets up in the beginning doesn’t really hold up and carry on through the rest of the film. Yes, it’s violent and the imagery is dark but once everyone starts throwing around magic, jokes and colourful spells, the film lost it’s edginess. I never felt Justice League Dark, recaptured the intense, frightening tone it had when the film started.
As I implicated towards earlier, the Justice League Dark poster, has Batman front and center but similar to Batman: Assault on Arkham, he’s rarely used. However, the difference between the two films, is in Assault on Arkham he was used sparingly at the right moments, so that his appearances added to the film, in Justice League Dark, he stands in the background and does nothing, in almost every scene. He is literally only in this film so he could be plastered all over the marketing because his role in the film is non-existent. If you cut out all his scenes, no one would notice and the film would play out a lot more smoothly. My favorite comic book character is Batman, I own more Batman merchandise than any full grown adult should, so if I’m getting sick of seeing his face constantly shoved into these DC films, there’s a problem!
Another issue I had with this film was it doesn’t have a lot of time to introduce all of these brand new characters. Justice League Dark gives us multiple characters we’ve never seen out of the comic books before (or if so, very little of them) and to give us back story, we either get wordy exposition or a rushed flashback sequence. I know they like to keep these films short but this one in particular, could have used an extra 20 minutes to fully explain all the delightful weirdos we meet.
Justice League Dark was decent but for me was about on par with the DC Animated films we’ve been getting recently. Constantine is great, there’s some good action but overall not something I’ll revisit.