Justice League: War is easily the most action-packed movie DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation have yet to make. Seriously, once all of the characters are established, it's pretty much one big fight scene after another. If you love seeing these characters smack each other around and battle evil, then prepare for some fun. However, if you thought the action in Man of Steel was too much, then this one just isn't for you.
The movie's inspired by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's first JUSTICE LEAGUE story in the New 52. If you've read it, then you basically know what to expect when it comes to the basic plot. For everyone else, the premise is simple: Darkseid invades Earth with a swarm of Parademons and the heroes must work together to stop him. And boom (tube), the Justice League is born as they unite and attempt to defeat this massively powerful villain.
Writer Heath Corson and Director Jay Oliva stay relatively true to the source material while also adding in more than a few changes. Sometimes animated movies keep the core idea of the plot but drastically alter everything else. Such isn't the case here. A lot of Johns' hilarious lines remain and more than a few jokes are thrown in to keep the comedy coming. Cyborg's origin story is also changed and it gives him a closer connection to what's going on. It technically changes who he is yet the basic concept of the character remains the same. And, as everyone knows by now, Shazam has replaced Aquaman. Yes, it sucks we don't get to see the very awesome shark moment, but trust me, it's because they have bigger plans for Arthur. Patience is a virtue, yes?
The film does a good job handling the team's chemistry, too. The Flash (Christopher Gorham) and Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) is without question the most entertaining pair and have the best lines. Not only that but their voice actors also deliver the strongest performances. If you're one of the people who constantly rant about the new SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN series, then odds are you'll hate the fact this film alludes to the attraction between the two. For everyone else, it'll deliver some solid laughs. A bond is created between Shazam and Cyborg as well and it's certainly an amusing one. For all his power, Billy Batson's still just a kid who idolizes this football star and it definitely shows. Meanwhile, Batman simply has amusing interactions with everyone.
As stated above, this movie is overflowing with action. They basically take the fight scenes from the source material and then multiply the duration by a thousand (that's a rough estimate). Some of the close-up shots feel too abrupt instead of intense (most notably when Cyborg debuts), but overall it's all of the action you could crave and then some. I didn't keep track of how long the fight with Darkseid is, but damn, it goes on and on. Plus, who doesn't want to see Wonder Woman flipping around and slicing Parademons apart?
The character designs are by Phil Bourassa, the lead character designer for Young Justice. The new costumes are perfectly fine and overall it's a very appreciated improvement over the incredibly bulky bodies we saw in DC's last animated movie (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox).
The movie's PG-13 and they take full advantage of that. The violence isn't nearly as graphic as Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (essentially limited to Parademons getting obliterated), but the rating is absolutely earned with the language. So, consider this a warning if you have a young one and don't want them hearing some colorful vocabulary.
As for gripes, the drama with Victor and his father doesn't translate that well and drags a bit. There's also a couple of times where shots linger a tad too long, making for somewhat awkward moments. Just like in the source material, Darkseid's essentially reduced to a boss battle type of character. He's there to brawl and Steven Blum spends more time screaming and grunting than actually talking. His physicals also fluctuate a decent amount and, as someone who's really into characters' stats and abilities, that stood out to me. Jason O'Mara's the new voice of Batman (he reprises the role in Son of Batman) and I'm left down the middle on it. Some remarks feel a tad uninspired while others are just fine. Speaking of Batman, the filmmakers find a way to toss in a second Dark Knight vs. Superman scene. As a Batman fan, it's downright amazing. But as a Superman fan, it comes off as an unnecessary departure from the source material (there's already so many places to see a darker Superman). Lastly, I don't mind it, but fans may want to know a certain infamous moment between Batman and Green Lantern remains.
Justice League: War is all about hitting you with big action and big laughs. The story isn't all that compelling and some may find the fights exhausting, but if you just want to enjoy seeing these characters brawl and banter for a little over an hour, then odds are you're going to have a good time with this one.
And yes, there is a mid-credits scene!