The DC Animated Movie Universe wraps up its epic storyline with the bloody Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. A first strike attack on Darkseid (Tony Todd) leads to devastating slaughter for Earth and its heroes. Beloved characters meet cruel fates with a few surprising twists along the way. The big moments work, but too many details are lost in the relatively short runtime. The scope of the plot warranted more exposition. That said, the action and animation are fantastic. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is certainly entertaining.
Constantine (Matt Ryan) and his lover Zatana (Camilla Luddington) attend an emergency meeting at the Watchtower. Superman (Jerry O’Connell) issues an emergency declaration to everyone assembled. Apokolips, the mechanized war world of Darkseid, has phased into the solar system. Their most fearsome enemy is coming. Take the fight to Darkseid and catch him off guard. Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson) wants to negotiate. Superman has the Justice League leadership convinced his plan will work.
Two years later, Constantine guzzles booze in the flaming ruins of London. He drinks to drown the shame of his actions. He’s visited by a radically altered Clark Kent and weakened Raven (Taissa Farmiga). There is a new plan to face Darkseid. Constantine blames Clark for their tragic failures, but is haunted by sorrow. His magic is needed to find the key to victory. Damian Wayne (Stuart Allan) is the last hope for humanity.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is an all hands on deck battle extravaganza. It is a sequel to Justice League Dark; with characters and events from The Flashpoint Paradox through the entire DCAMU, fifteen film series. The vast majority of which are turned into mulch by Darkseid, and drum roll please, Paradooms – a genetic hybrid of Parademons and Doomsday. They pretty much show up and give the wood chipper treatment. The carnage is jarring initially, but loses shock value. The primary characters have all the speaking parts. Everyone else is just meat for the butcher.
Screenwriter Mairghread Scott (Wonder Woman: Bloodlines) has been a good animation writer for years. She had a difficult job here. Jam the Justice League, Teen Titans, Justice League Dark, Suicide Squad, their traditional adversaries, and Darkseid into a mere ninety minutes. Marvel did the same with Infinity War and Endgame in almost six hours. Granted those were feature films, but time was given for exposition and character development. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War lacks depth. The film has to appeal to younger audiences, but the subject matter is meant for adult fans. A two hour runtime would have allowed Scott complexity, while still keeping everyone’s attention rapt. She hits the correct emotional notes for the big reveals. Smaller moments and nuance just aren’t a factor.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War works as a standalone film. DCAMU neophytes and diehards will all find something to like. I got a kick out of Darkseid’s punishment for Superman and twisted use of Batman (Jason O’Mara). Constantine is a decent protagonist, but loses me with the seemingly endless spells. His powers are too broad. The character has an incantation for every situation. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a production of Warner Bros. Animation. It is available now digitally with a Blu-ray/DVD release on May 19th.
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