‘Justice League: Gods and Monsters’ is a Divine Beast of a Movie

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For those lucky enough to be at Comic-Con and in Ballroom 20 Friday evening, you were treated to a screening of Bruce Timm’s return to producing DC animated films with “Justice League: Gods and Monsters.” This film is a new take on the DC Holy Trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman; Batman is a living vampire with a similar origin to that of Morbius, Superman is actually the child of Zod and Lara-El (or Lor-Van, or Van-El) due to an entirely innocent but disgustingly suggestive finger prick on the pod that would have housed Kal-El, and Wonder Woman is a New God who had a Red Wedding type situation happen to her. It is a completely new and original take on the DC Universe, and one we will hopefully get to see more of.

The movie begins during the final moments of Krypton, where Jor-El is preparing to launch a space pod with the last surviving Kryptonian on it; the twist is that it is an incubating pod rather than ship with his already born son. The final step is for Jor-El to put his finger into the scanner so his DNA can be added to his wife’s incubating egg; but his finger is shot off by General Zod and Zod uses his finger and sends his legacy into space. While the pod travels through space the egg is fertilized by Zod’s DNA then proceeds to develop into a baby as the credits roll by. Afterwards the pod lands on Earth and is almost immediately surrounded by the Lex Luthor and a small army who are there to seize the pod. Upon inspecting it, and questioning the farmers whose property the pod is on, the pod appears to be empty. The baby was somehow rescued by what appears to be an undocumented Mexican couple who alludes detection of Lex and his lackies. The movie then cuts to the future with this universe’s Justice League, composing of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, who are on a black ops mission to take out a terrorists organization. Afterwards it cuts to Lois Lane harshly criticizing the government and the Justice League. This sets up the movie, showing that this Justice League is much more brutal and less moral, doing whatever it takes to get the job done and this world does not adore the Justice League as is usually portrayed.

“Gods and Monsters” is the best Justice League movie since “Flashpoint Paradox.” It also marks Timm’s return to DC Animated features since “Batman – The Dark Knight Returns.” Once again the animation is flawless, and returns to Timm’s more squared DCAU Characters; I personally prefer the more anime styled characters, but Timm’s presence usually accounts for a better developed story and character development that make the look relatively negligible. The fight scenes are well choreographed and is not just brute strength punching over and over. The voice acting is perfect as Andrea Romano once again directs the hell out of all of the voice talent. I say the only other voice directors who could match Romano are the Pixar and Dreamworks ones, but they work with a much bigger budget.

The highlight of the movie is the fresh new take on the classic iconic characters and the universe as a whole.  Out of the three, I believe Wonder Woman’s origin story is the most  interesting; she is manipulated, betrayed, and emotionally devastated on what should be the happiest day of her life. Superman’s upbringing on the other side of the tracks does give him an entirely different outlook on life and gives him that grit and attitude that the original Supes completely lacks. Batman’s origin is pretty simple, he turns himself into a Vampire while trying to cure his cancer. Batman is not Bruce Wayne but Kirk Langstrom, who was a brilliant biologists part of Lex Luthor’s chosen students instead of being Man-Bat. Among this group chosen science students are also Victor Fries (Dr. Freeze), Ray Palmer (Atom), and Silas Stone (Cyborg’s father). The universe is familiar, but very unlike the one fans are usually accustomed too. The movie also is on the mature side, and does not shy away from brutality and death. The death is very interesting as not only do they kill nameless henchmen, but some characters who are staples of the regular DC universe. The movie is filled with DC characters who are fun house mirror images of their normal selves; they share nothing more than a name and a physical likeness for the most part.

They were no major downsides to the film. The only thing that comes to mind is the opening sequence with Zod’s finger being inserted into the scanning device. The framing and speed of that shot came off as a sex joke, then the ship looked like a giant modern white tadpole (not sure if I should say the word I want to use, even though it is scientific) took off like it was coming out of a big shaft. Then it shows the egg becoming fertilized and becoming a fetus. It was like watching an animated version of the opening of “Look Who’s Talking.” The tone was kind of confusing with that scene, and the intended severity of what just happened seemed to turn into unexpected levity and confusion. The conclusion is also a bit underwhelming, not the final conflict, but the resolution that the Justice League should stop killing people is a bit of a gut punch to the momentum. This Justice League was supposed to be the team that does things however they want, but still operate for the greater good on their own accord. It almost seems like they will turn into the same archetype of their regular DC counterparts, which seems to defeat the point of the new take. Hopefully it’s one of those situations where they want to be better, but often go with the easier route.

“Justice League: Gods and Monsters” has the makings to be the next big thing from DC, maybe even be DC’s “Ultimate” or maybe the start of a new DCAU. A planned web series is set to follow it, similar to the ones released before the movie, and comics are also planned to help expand and flesh out the universe. Timm says if they are able to make sequels, they will definitely add more members to the Justice League. However, the sequel will likely take a long while as “Batman: The Killing Joke,” “Batman: Bad Blood,” and  “Justice League vs. Titans” are next on the slate. Lastly, parents should not buy this movie for their children. The content is very mature and should be known ahead of time. Understandably the Justice League name and featuring of super heroes on the box can be misleading, but know this is not a movie made for children. Treat this movie like an R-Rated feature.

“Justice League: Gods and Monsters” released today as a digital download and will release on blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday 7/21/2015.



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