HERE IT IS, at last: the Justice League film.
Well, it’s not that movie — the hotly hoped-for big-screen project. But if you're looking for an animated adventure based on the first volume of DC Comics’ New 52 version of the Justice League — by DC talent/execs Geoff Johns and Jim Lee — then: The Blu-Ray has landed.
“Justice League: War,” the latest direct-to-video release from DC Comics/Warner Bros. Animation, is a faithful adaptation (except for one major detail) of its comic-book source material.
So, does that mean "JL: War" is any good? Well, that depends on your initial thoughts on DC's New 52 reboot, over which some fans still remain more than a little miffed.
Here are five things that stood out when viewing the latest adventure featuring the DC universe all-star super-team. Just don't call them “super friends”:
1. Superman vs. Batman: Just like the comic, the film starts with Green Lantern meeting Batman in Gotham for the first time, after investigating some unidentified alien activity. But the slightly comical meeting between these DC icons is put aside when they're forced to take on Superman (keep in mind, there is no Justice League yet — and they are all meeting for the first time, so no one trusts each other yet).
No one is a match for Superman, but Batman always has the upper hand doesn't he?
2. Where's Aquaman? That aforementioned major detail that keeps "Justice League: War" from being an exact replica of the comic? Turns out, Aquaman not being on the team. He's replaced by Shazam (the superhero formerly known as Captain Marvel). But who's to say DC/WB Animation doesn't have animated plans for the king of the sea?
Given DC's knack for adapting stories by Johns into animated films, it could be that Aquaman will get his own solo film, based on Johns’s well-received run on the New 52 Aquaman comics. Look for clues in "JL:War."
3. The voices: Voice director Andrea Romano deserves a lot of the credit for much of the success DC/WB Animation has had with comic book-related works. But she can't be expected to bring out the big guns every time Superman and Batman get together.
"Justice League: War" does not feature the voice talents of Kevin Conroy (who voices Batman in "Batman: The Animated Series") and Tim Daly (Supes in "Superman: The Animated Series").
Instead, Alan Tudyk provides the voice of Superman, and Jason O'Mara is Batman. Both do a decent-enough job so that the absence of Conroy and Daly isn't a big deal.
Shemar Moore is convincing as Cyborg, and Steve Blum sounds positively ruthless as Darkseid. Either Blum has the scariest voice ever recorded, or he was slightly assisted with some voice-tech.
4. The language: When watching the Justice League in action in "JL:War,” you might quickly grab the Blu-Ray cover and check the rating.
Just so you know, it's PG-13. But be prepared to hear a hero or two say something you may not be accustomed to them saying in a comic book.
Although, of course, Superman keeps it clean.
5. The action: Besides the language, what earns the film its PG-13 rating is the action — especially (spoiler!) in the final battle between the League and Darkseid.
It takes the combined might of the Justice League just to make Darkseid budge, so the fighting is very intense — perhaps the most violent ever in a DC animated film. nd wait until you see Wonder Woman's idea for taking Darkseid down (it's not kid-friendly).
"Justice League: War" won't make the wait for a live-action Justice League film any easier. But if you're a fan of seeing the league in action, it's worth a viewing.
Follow David Betancourt on Twitter: @aDCfanboy