Trying to fall in love with film again.

I might be the only person who doesn't love Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (Video 2020) - IMDbStory 

The Justice League, Justice League Dark, Teen Titans and Suicide Squad team up to defend the earth from Darkseid in one final battle.

If you've seen Justice League War and the live-action Justice League, then you're familiar with the plot fo this movie but only on a surface level. While plot threads between 3 of these movies are similar, Apokolips War (I'm calling it that because the name is too long) subverts any expectations that I had going into it and that is both a good and bad thing. While I didn't know what to expect, there are things that happen in the movie that didn't really make a lot of sense to me. And that is where some of my issues come in.

This movie is a lot of movie. Due to the large demand of this movie, the action starts within the first 5 minutes. There is so much going on here in an attempt to wrap up all the loose ends from other movies and it does succeed. There is character growth, you see relationships being mended, and new characters interact with each other and it's exciting. However, there are so many people in this movie that a lot of them end up being underutilized and underdeveloped.

Voice Acting 

You'll never hear me complain about the voice acting in a DCAU movie. I've grown attached to the voice actors just as much as I have the characters. They all manage to capture the essence of their characters. Especially Matt Ryan who is the PERFECT Constantine. It feels good to see the character get the attention he rightfully deserves because he is incredibly complex while also being likeable and a bit of an asshole. His sarcasm and wit carry the movie which sometimes felt weighed down by everything that is going on. Much like everyone in the movie, he deals with loss and you see him carry that weight around. Without a doubt, he IS the star of the movie and I think it was a brilliant decision on the part of the writers. Constantine's arch and the core theme of the movie can be summed up by this quote...
"Accept the things you cannot change. Have the courage to change what you can. And have the wisdom to know the difference."
The other character that shines in this movie is Raven and for the same reason, Constantine does, complexity. She's fighting 3 battles in this movie. Two internal ones and one external one and because of that, there is so much room for her to grow in this movie. Her characterisation is very similar to Teen Titans: The Judas Contract but she's more world-weary in this movie and after everything, she's been through, she's hurting and seeing where she is towards the end feels like a good place for her to be and Taissa Farmiga's voice acting gets a big thumbs up from me.

Hearing familiar voices like Rosario Dawson, Jerry O'Connell and Jason O'Mara is really nice. It's like seeing a friend you haven't seen in a long time. Their voices just sound right to me. However, I am giving Warner Bros. side-eye for not having Tara Strong in this movie. I mean...
Boosie Badazz Banned From Planet Fitness For Comments About Dwayne ...

Writing/Direction 

DCAU movies are no stranger to action but this movie has been dialled up to eleven. The whole time I watched the movie I kept wondering what the rating was and I am not surprised to find that it is in fact rated R. While I have no issue with using violence to tell the story,  but that's not happening here. It was almost as if the writers wanted to throw as much violence and gore in there to justify an R rating. I'm not asking for PG-13 violence but after a while seeing characters beat each other to a bloody pulp gets boring, especially when there is no attachment to said characters.

While some characters in this movie don't act like previous iterations or their comic book counterparts, I understand the slight change. If I knew exactly how everyone would act, the movie would be boring. Having characters do things that we don't associate with them not only subverts expectation but it adds new stakes. That being said there was a bit of disassociation because people were not acting the way I thought they would.

One issue I sometimes have with DCAU movies is pacing. Even though the movies are an hour and a half they can sometimes feel longer than that but that isn't the case with Apokolips War, this movie moves at break-neck speed as there is so much to get through in so little time.

Seeing that this is a sequel to Justice League Dark (and technically Son of Batman, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Reign of the Supermen), it has a very similar tone and it makes sense because I didn't love Justice League Dark either. I'm also not surprised that there is some cross over in the creative department as a lot of the characterisations in this movie are similar to that one. And I would recommend watching all 4 movies before you watch this one because I forgot that these characters had interacted before. That way you can have a more complete view of the story because this movie doesn't stop to remind you.

Animation

The animation is up to par with the last few movies in the DCAU. It also fits the overall tone of the movie as it's too colourful and started. The animation allows for a more immersive experience and having different colour palettes for different locations help give a visual representation of the tone as well as the story.

Score/Soundtrack 

DCAU scores are never anything for me to go on about. I honestly wasn't paying attention to the score the way I usually would. It does sound good, Robert J. Kral did a good job but it's nothing to write home about (or in this case an entire section of this review.

Overall Thoughts

I didn't hate this movie but by the end of it, I didn't like it either. I gave an immediate review to my friend Fiyin when I finished watching it and she said I looked so over it and that is a good way to explain how I felt. I shouldn't have felt that way and I think that comes from me hating the ending (which I will not spoil here). I understand the symbolic choice to end the story arc that way but I didn't feel anything while I watched it and it seemed to override all the effort made throughout the movie.

That is not to say that there isn't good in here. From the beginning to the end you really have no idea what to expect and because of that, I was on the edge of my seat as the victory isn't guaranteed. It's also rewarding to see the team transition from where they are at the beginning of the movie to the end. However, there are moments that felt more like shock factor than logic. With this movie the good is good but the meh is meh.

There are a lot of similarities between Apokolips War and Infinity War (and the first half of Endgame) and I've seen a lot of valid comparisons between the two and they make sense. Both movies involve large groups of people coming together to defeat a villain that is almost too powerful while preventing a whole-shattering event. Both movies also have intense action and unpredictable moments. They also have the task of rounding out franchises that have been going on for years. And they both succeed in different ways.

All in all, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is not a bad movie, I found it dramatic, shocking and emotional but I also found it jarring. I know a lot of people love this movie and would give it a 10/10. I wish I was one of them.

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