By: John M Jerva
I’ve just celebrated my sixth year anniversary running Action-Flix.com and it recently came to my attention that I’ve never reviewed an animated action film here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of animation and Anime but unfortunately I never thought about doing one…until now.
I’ve rectified this dilemma with one doozy of an animated superhero film with the release of Warner Bros and DC’s Injustice which is based on the storyline outlined in the popular video games and DC graphic novels. The plot line is a whopper as it’s a take of a world where Superman has gone off the reservation after a senseless tragedy and the last son of Krypton has made it his own personal mission to make sure that all innocent life is safe.
That all sounds great in theory but unfortunately the way he goes about it is severely wrong and immoral and it divides the very existence of the Justice League.
Let’s start at the beginning, and it’s important to note that this story takes place on an alternate Earth so when something really bad happens to a beloved DC character, take faith in the fact that there’s another one out there somewhere.
Injustice opens with the clown prince of crime, AKA The Joker, on one massive rampage. It seems that Joker is tired of constantly losing to Batman and to finally get what’s coming to him, he devises a devious plan to have Kal-El mistakingly kill the love of his life, Lois Lane. To make things worse, the once happy couple just recently found out that they were going to have a child. Ouch.
Reeling from what he accidentally did, Superman, who is racked with some serious grief, goes on one serious mission of peace to where he is eventually playing the role of God. Essentially it’s his way or the highway and if you’re doing something bad, you know like murder or waging war, you’re in some serious trouble.
Aside from Wonder Woman, who jumps on Supe’s bandwagon as she is fed up too with criminals getting away with murder, this divides the rest of the Justice League who essentially disband. Some side with the Caped Crusader and some with the Man of Tomorrow. It’s a bona fide DC civil war and it’s much more extreme than the MCU’s.
Now it’s up to the Dark Knight himself, Batman, to put a stop to Kal-El’s mission of justice and vengeance which puts him in the crosshairs of the alien who was once Earth’s mightiest protector. All the while, the world’s governments scramble to find their own resolution to stopping the man of steel. This also brings out an evil that is the true antagonist at play for the climax.
From the get go, fans will know that this isn’t you’re ordinary, garden variety DC animated movie as it’s eerily bloody and brutal from the get go. Sure there’ve been other more adult oriented DC animated pics like The Killing Joke but this one is a bloody and brutal superhero fever dream.
Fan favorite DC superheroes meet their unceremoniously bloody ends and even though I won’t go into any spoilers here, when you see a tried and true character go down, it certainly takes you by surprise. One beloved character is wasted and it’s more or less an afterthought. I, for one, dropped my jaw a few times but once again it’s OK because it’s an Elseworld storyline.
At a brisk running time of 88 minutes, there’s no filler to be had here as the movie hits the gas hard from the very first few minutes and never really let’s up. There’s action sequences aplenty and the stakes are way higher here as former allies wage a barbaric war with each other and the set pieces are dominating and extreme.
The original source material is longer of course and with the film’s short length there’s a lot of stuff not included. On a negative note, I felt this one should have been broken up into two parts to put more of the initial plot points in it. It still does it’s job but the scale of this one definitely deserved a longer running time.
The ultimate highlight of the film is the eventual showdown as Batman makes one last play at stopping Superman which leads to a clash of the titans. Watching the super showdown, it’s a little misleading as the box cover art would lead you to believe that there’s a colossal grudge match between Superman and Batman and while they do tussle in the film, the climax pits this Earth’s Man of Steel against a real familiar adversary but I found this one more satisfying than what I thought was going to happen.
Once again, I won’t go into huge spoilers but viewers will be served a heaping dish of fan service and let’s just say the final fight is straight out of Superman III with Christopher Reeve. The conclusion is bittersweet but one that is inevitable.
Overall, Injustice is the deepest, darkest and bloodiest entry in Warner Bros line of DC animated films. Heroes fall and fall hard and moral issues abound. One thing is certain though and that’s DC’s lineup is well represented and fans will have a hard R rated good time with the battles and clashes. It’s hard to see chinks in your childhood heroes’ armor but this is the world we live in and everyone is flawed to a certain degree. But in true hero fashion, these characters rise from the fire and ashes and face the consequences of their actions.
Injustice is much more than a comic book or superhero flick as it’s a bloody and brutal fever dream of epic proportions with deep and penetrating layers of morality. A tip of my cap to the makers for not pulling any punches and delivering a true representation of the source material.
Watching this film made me long even more for a continuation of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the Knightmare scenario that was teased in his definitive version. Seeing that play out in a live action adaptation would be a fanboy’s dream come true.