Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, 2020.
Directed by Matt Peters and Christina Sotta.
Featuring the voice talents of Roger Cross, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Gorham, Camilla Luddington, Shemar Moore, Jerry O’Connell, Jason O’Mara, Matt Ryan, Sachie Alessio, Stuart Allan, Ray Chase, John DiMaggio, Taissa Famiga, Liam McIntyre, Tony Todd, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, and Hynden Walch.
The remaining members of the Justice League team up to take down the villainous Darkseid following Earth’s decimation.
Let me tell you something off the bat (no pun intended), this film had the highest number of ‘holy shit’ moments out of all the efforts in the DC Animated Movie Universe thus far. And that is saying something. Also, I would like to add that the R-rating given to this flick is more than justified and you’ll find out why very early on. This film appears to pick off where the Reign of the Supermen post-credits scene concludes, with the Justice League prepping to take the fight to Darkseid at his home-planet of Apokolips. Needless to say, things go brutally wrong with our titular team literally being ripped to shreds at the hands of Darkseid’s ferocious minions called Paradooms- which are genetic hybrids of Parademons and Doomsday. But as always, the Dark Knight has a contingency plan in place in case things go sideways.
When analyzing the story of this film some of you may notice that it’s not dissimilar to the plot of the ill-fated live-action Justice League trilogy Zack Snyder was engaged with a few years back. That story arc too featured Darkseid as its primary antagonist, and we got a brief glimpse of what that bleak future would have looked like in the ‘Knightmare sequence’ of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Within the narrative of that film Bruce Wayne uses this vision to further reinforce his belief that Superman is a threat that should be neutralized. But in the greater context of the DCEU, the Knightmare would have served as the preamble to Darkseid’s plan in Snyder’s Justice League films. Alas all those lofty plans were scuttled, and we are now left with a disconnected DCEU still struggling to find its foothold. But fear not DC fans! Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is certain to satiate those appetites and fill the void created in the absence of a proper live-action Justice League film, and then some.
The animated action set pieces featured here looks as if they were torn from the pages of a comic book, and in true DC fashion, they are brutal and awe-inspiring simultaneously. It is a dark and uncompromising look at the lengths the supervillain Darkseid would go to to achieve his ends. Ever imagined what Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame would have looked like if it was rated R? well, this is it. As with the previous Justice League Dark animated film John Constantine is front and center here, but in this story, we get to find out the true extent of the power this occultist wields. The relationship of Raven and Damian Wayne, established in previous efforts, becomes an important subplot in the narrative, especially in the third act when their bond is tested. To say more would be to spoil the audience and my lips are sealed. It’s rather disappointing to see composer Frederik Wiedmann not returning to score the final installment of this animated universe, but that’s a minor quibble as Australian musician Robert J. Kral (Justice League Dark) delivers an equally effective score, heightening the emotional aspects as well as the action-heavy segments through his music.
But where would this epic film be if not for the efforts of the insanely talented group of voice actors, who breathe life into their respective animated counterparts? Matt Ryan who portrayed the live-action John Constantine in NBC’s Constantine and voiced the character in Justice League Dark and Constantine: City of Demons, returns to lend his voice acting talents for this flick as well. He truly shines here imbuing the role with his usual manic energy, British cynicism and dry wit. Despite being a fan of Keanu Reeves’ take on Constantine, Matt Ryan will always be the perfect embodiment of the foul-mouthed occult detective, be it live-action or animated. Taissa Farmiga who has been voicing Raven since 2016’s Justice League vs. Teen Titans, returns to reprise her role here as well. It is a broken and depressed Raven that Farmiga voices here this time around, and she does an amazing job at channeling those complex emotions through her nuanced vocal performance. Another stand out is Jason Chase (Justice League Dark) as the hulking demon Etrigan. The humorous banter between him and Constantine is genuinely priceless. As they’ve done over the past few years both Jerry O’ Connell and Jason O’ Mara add gravitas to their performances as Superman and Batman respectively.
Now although Justice League Dark: Apokolips War has touted at being the last entry of the DC Animated Movie Universe, it definitely seems like the final chapter of this particular continuity. The conclusion of this film sees a reluctant Barry Allan running off into the horizon in a probable attempt to reset the timeline à la Flashpoint Paradox, so maybe this is DC’s way of introducing the animated version of the ‘Rebirth’ initiative kickstarted in 2016 with their comics? As of yet no official announcements have been made, but here’s hoping that we’ll hear something soon in that regard.
Over the years DC’s animation department have churned out great films like Batman: Under the Red Hood and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox but it’s safe to say that their most recent effort also ranks amongst the best of them. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the DC equivalent of the MCU’s Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame combined into one mind-blowing film but a word of advice, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart so be prepared to take some major blows.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.