Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS (2015)

Witness a divergent reality where the Justice League protects the planet – but answers to no one but themselves. Employing methods of intimidation and fear, this Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman deal brute force in the name of justice. From the creative genius of executive producer Bruce Timm and co-producer Alan Burnett comes an original story where the world’s greatest triumvirate of super heroes has distinctly different origins. Superman was not raised by the Kents in Smallville, the Caped Crusader is not Bruce Wayne, and Wonder Woman is not an Amazon warrior of Themyscira. They are as likely the world’s saviors as Earth’s despotic rulers. When a group of famed scientists experience untimely “accidents,” a government task force follows the trail of clues to the Justice League – but is there a more powerful player operating from the shadows? It’s a high stakes game of intrigue, mystery and action that asks the question: How do you serve justice to those above the law? [DC Comics]


As an animator and producer, Bruce Timm has created some of the greatest animated productions in DC Comics’ history. He conceived the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, which gave birth to the DC Animated Universe. That world consisted of shows such as Superman: TAS, Batman Beyond, Static Shock and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited. Since the DCAU’s conclusion, Timm was involved with many of the films on the DC Universe Original Animated Movies line. However, he stepped down as supervising producer for DC animation a couple years ago, but he has returned this year with a crazy, alternate universe-type project.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is truly unlike anything DC has done before. In this alternate reality, the League is a more brutal, less heroic force. The team consists of Superman, who is the son of General Zod; Batman, who is now Kirk Langstrom (aka Man-Bat from the comics) rather than Bruce Wayne; and Wonder Woman, who, instead of Diana Prince, is Bekka, the bride of Orion. And did I mention that Batman is a vampire? This world is even darker and bleaker than the mainstream DCU, but it is not thoroughly depressing.

Gods and Monsters, obviously, offers a bold new look at the DC Universe. I was fascinated by the idea of Superman killing his enemies without hesitation - something which wouldn’t go over well in the main DCU - and Batman as a vampire adds a whole new aspect to this iconic character. Seeing new versions of Amanda Waller, Will Magnus and other familiar characters was also interesting. Gods and Monsters feels like a unique entry into the DCUOAM line, as it drastically changes up the formula and freshens the concept of a world with a Justice League.

That, in part, is surely thanks to Timm’s involvement. He has created many DC masterpieces throughout his career, and Gods and Monsters is no exception. It felt good to see his familiar character designs again; they are very superior to, say, the animation style of the movies set in the Justice League: War universe. At the same time, Timm’s designs don’t feel like rehashes, and they stand on their own apart from his other works. The overall animation quality of Gods and Monsters is very high. I liked the score for the movie as well.

 
The voice cast for Gods and Monsters is also good. Benjamin Bratt is great as Superman. He brings the aggressive, determined feel to this iteration of the character. Michael C. Hall does a fine job voicing Batman. Occasionally, though, his voice does feel lifeless, but it kind of makes sense within the context of his characterization. Tamara Taylor is a perfect fit for Wonder Woman, while Paget Brewster and C. Thomas Howell are also great as Lois Lane and Will Magnus, respectively. Jason Isaacs is decent as Lex Luthor, but he doesn’t leave the impact that, say, Clancy Brown would have left.

The plot of Gods and Monsters is very interesting, and it is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Again, its bold new take on the DC Universe is fascinating; even when you think you know who these characters are in the movie, you really don’t. There are very few flaws, most of which are nitpicks. Some of the voice acting was average; for example, the voice for Darkseid (who has a very, very minor role in the story unfortunately) didn’t feel like Darkseid, making the actor chosen feel like a miscast. However, he only speaks in one brief scene, so it doesn’t impact the overall film much at all.

Overall, Justice League: Gods and Monsters is easily one of DC’s best animated movies in recent years. It depicts a shocking new vision of the DC Universe, and it is filled with stellar animation, stunning plot twists and (mostly) solid voice acting. It feels refreshing to see such a unique perspective of these legendary characters. Once again, Bruce Timm proves that he is a genius at animated DC adaptations, making his triumphant comeback with Gods and Monsters. I highly recommend this film to fellow DC fans, and even those who were disappointed with recent animated features should enjoy this one.


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