By Justin Stovall
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the final chapter of an animated universe that began seven years ago with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Consider it the Avengers: Endgame of this universe. I would like to essentially break it down in two parts; as a standalone film, and as the final chapter in a sprawling saga. (There will be slight spoilers for this film!)
As a standalone film it suffers from many of the problems that plague any of these animated films. They are not for the uninitiated. If you haven’t seen the previous films or at least have an understanding who these characters are, I do not see you enjoying this movie on your first watch through. There is still, however, much that can be admired in this film. The writing is tight and manages to juggle a large cast of characters. Some of them end up feeling one note but those are largely side-characters and it works precisely because they are side characters. They aren’t the meat of the story, but they make the experience more filling. The main group we’re meant to focus on get well done arcs that are emotional and wrap you into their struggle. Each one is individualized and has a strong voice that is felt throughout the film. You can understand the arcs each character takes and while some of it is predictable, they still manage to shock you with some of the directions they take.
There aren’t really any strong themes that shine through the action besides maybe one of sacrifice. If you’re looking for an intellectual film, this is not it, it’s an emotional, action packed showcase of excellent animation (except for the 3D animated cannon fodder). This is an R-rated movie mainly for blood, although there is some strong language. Personally I don’t have a problem with blood but it feels different when you see it happening to your heroes, especially versions that, as I mentioned, you’ve lived with for seven years. It’s a good film but seen alone it loses most of it would lose most of its weight and wouldn’t really stand out among other superhero films. That being said, seen with the other films, it changes drastically.
As a finale to a fifteen film saga this movie is honestly amazing. If you’ve followed the story from the beginning, there is no way that you won’t be satisfied with this ending. It ties back all the way to things from previous movies that you would not expect to be revisited. We didn’t really expect this until last year’s Reign of the Supermen, in which this film’s plot was hinted at, but even then this was highly anticipated and delivered greatly. As I mentioned above, it’s hard to see characters you love be killed in these manners (some of it has to be for shock value), and it doesn’t really sit well with me to see these deaths like this. There isn’t really a theme that is backed up by these violent, visceral deaths and they just leave a pit in your stomach. But maybe that’s just me. The action is amazing, as it is in most of these films (especially the more recent ones) and voice acting has gotten much better as well. It ends paving the way for a new future, one that fans of this universe should be excited for.
Overall, the film itself is nothing new in terms of plot, themes, characters, etc. It’s a standard DC animated movie. That being said, it is a phenomenal feat when seen in the context of being a closing chapter in a longer story. I enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to the next projects that come from the DC animation studios.