Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK (2017)

There are dark days ahead...as in Justice League Dark, the newest DC Original Animated Movie! When innocent civilians begin committing unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession - but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. Forming a new "league" with sorceress Zatanna, otherworldly Deadman, and Jason Blood and his powerful alter ego Etrigan the Demon, this team of Dark Arts specialists must unravel the mystery of Earth's supernatural plague and contend with the rising, powerful villainous forces behind the siege - before it's too late for all of mankind. [Warner Bros.]


Justice League Dark is the latest installment in Warner Bros. Animation's universe of New 52-inspired DC movies. But this film shifts the focus away from the main Justice League group to the titular supernatural team. (Even Batman doesn't hog the spotlight, despite the marketing suggesting otherwise.) Characters such as Constantine, Zatanna and Etrigan the Demon take the spotlight in this title. Since the release of 2014's Justice League: War, the new DC animated universe titles have gotten a little better every year. Dark is no different; heck, I'd say that it's the best installment to date.

The animation and character designs in these movies have always been hit-and-miss, but Justice League Dark does well in this category. The animation is colorful, dazzling, and more creative than previous titles. It helps that the animation brings magic and new power sets to the table. This is in part due to the movie predominately featuring new characters, and it helps make it feel like a breath of fresh air.

The storytelling is good too. Justice League Dark takes its time to establish the main characters, and it offers some interesting plot twists. It also does well with connecting the story to the main Justice League members, without them stealing the spotlight. 


Speaking of which... For those who are feeling "Batman fatigue," Justice League Dark should surprise you. Sure, the character plays a key supporting role, but that's just that - supporting. Everyone gets a chance to shine, with Constantine and Zatanna particularly having the spotlight. So, while Batman is there, he's not the star of the movie by any means.

The voice acting in Justice League Dark is also really good. Matt Ryan is just perfect as John Constantine. He nails the character on NBC's Constantine series and an episode of Arrow, and he's just as great in animation. I'm excited to see his streak continue in the CW Seed animated series. Elsewhere, Camilla Luddington is very good as Zatanna, while Ray Chase is awesome as both Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon. 

Nicholas Turtorro and Roger Cross are great as Deadman and Swamp Thing, respectively, but I felt like the latter was underused compared to everyone else. Alfred Molina (Destiny) is always good to hear. Also, while Jason O'Mara's Batman doesn't have the biggest fanbase, I like his voice. Though, if you don't like it, then Justice League Dark won't change your mind.

Overall, Justice League Dark is the best New 52-inspired DC animated title to date. It has an ensemble of interesting characters, solid voice acting, and beautiful animation. The film has made me a bigger fan of DC's supernatural characters, particularly Etirgan the Demon. Hopefully, DC's future animated titles will be more like this: more creative animation and more focus on other characters in the DC Universe.


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