Starring: Rosario Dawson, Roger Cross, Jerry O’Connell, Jason O’Mara, Matt Ryan, Stuart Allan, Ray Chase, Taissa Farmiga, Rebecca Romijn, Hynden Walch, Rainn Wilson
Written By: Mairghread Scott, Ernie Altbacker
Directed By: Matt Peters, Christina Sotta
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a digital screener that I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.
Darkseid is coming and Earth is his target and all of Earth’s heroes know that his attack is imminent. Calling upon all Justice Leaguers and Teen Titans, Superman decides to be pro-active and take the fight to Darkseid this time. There is no in between ground…Darkseid must be destroyed at all costs but is Superman prepared to accept what the Apokolips War will cost him?
Seven years ago DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation decided to change things up in regards to their animated feature films. Whereas previous releases were self-contained animated tales that fans were mostly familiar with such as the death of Superman or the first flight of Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern, “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” changed the ballgame. Taking a cue from the comic books as well as the shared universe and continuity of the Marvel movies, DC created a shared animated universe that they would shape and mold into one of the most underrated and overlooked movie franchises of the past decade or so.
“Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is the culmination of 15 films and serves as the universe’s epilogue tale. As Superman takes the Justice League and company up against the New God known as Darkseid, things go horribly wrong. Spying on Earth’s greatest heroes, Darkseid was prepared for them and, with the help of a genetic alteration of the Parademons and Doomsday now called Paradooms, he easily dismantled and dismembered Earth’s army. Two years later on Earth, Darkseid’s plan of the domination and destruction of Earth is nearly complete. Parademons roam the planet seeking out any survivals and rebel sects. There aren’t many left to fight for Earth’s existence but out of the shadows comes a defeated Superman who now has liquid kryptonite flowing through his veins and a Raven weakened due to a battle of wills to contain her demon father Trigon within his otherworldly prison.
Time is running out for Earth, which has left than a week left before Darkseid’s machines drain the magma core to nothing. It is now or never for those remaining and Superman and Raven seek out John Constantine. Constantine has been in hiding since he ran out on his teammates during the initial battle on Apokolips. The Demon Etrigan hangs around with Constantine because misery loves company and both are reluctant to go up against Darkseid once again. After hearing Superman out, Constantine decides that he has nothing left to loose and he and Etrigan join up and seek out other allies. Thanks to Lois Lane defeating Harley Quinn in a boxing match (?), Superman gains the Suicide Squad as allies. With the odds against them and a very slim chance for survival, they set their plans in motion.
The battles set up some interesting scenarios as Damian Wayne is recruited to help break the mind control on his father Batman, who has become the lead general in Darkseid’s army…think of him as a Gotham Orion. Lex Luthor is Lex Luthor and plays the classic manipulator and odds player that we all know and love/hate and we get to see a battle between New Gods and Old Gods among other things.
When the dust settles and all of the cards are cashed in, it’s very fitting that the DC Animated Movie Universe ends how it all started…with a Flashpoint.
I had hoped that they would end the universe in a way that they did but at first, I wasn’t quite sure where they were going with things and what the fate of this wonderful animated universe would be. With the movie being rated R, the early parts of the movie were very much like an Elseworlds or What If…? tale, chock full of murder porn and heroes were being eviscerated or decapitated left and right without playing much of a role in the initial battle. There were characters whose deaths weren’t showed on screen followed with a brief juxtaposition of Darkseid’s plans for them, but the surviving members were an odd mix of characters that never really encountered one another in the shared universe before. The heroes had to rely on villains and cowards to save the day, which one would think that they would have gathered as many willing participants to go against Darkseid in the first place.
With an entire universe of characters to choose from, it became obvious that once again the Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman would take center stage but this was a “Justice League Dark” movie and it was great to see Constantine prove his worth when it’s do-or-die. They only get to the point that they get to in the first place because Constantine is who he is and one man…Batman…had total faith in him as the key to saving the world and the universe in general. Their carry-over history from the previous “Justice League Dark” movie is one of the most important parts of this movie and that’s exactly what made the shared universe work so well all of these years.
“Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was the DC Animated Movie Universe’s “Endgame”. When things were at their darkest and all hope was lost, the heroes had to think outside of the box and lay it all on the line and seven years of continuous plotlines, character building, wondrous adventures and dynamic storytelling helped bring this movie and this universe to a fitting yet bittersweet end. I don’t want to say goodbye to this world that I’ve grown to love but in the end, they all got a clean slate and the possibilities of what may or may not come next are endless.
“Superman: Man of Tomorrow”, a retelling of Superman’s origin story, is the next movie on the slate for Warner Bros. Animation and the sky’s the limit for a new continuous universe. I’m excited for the possibility of a new shared universe I’ll greatly miss this one. So long and thanks for the memories.
Bottom Line: “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” brings an end to the DC Animated Movie Universe as we know it. If this is truly the end, it was an amazing ride and I’m sad to see it go. “Apokolips War” was everything an invested fan of this universe could ask for with one of the saddest movie endings I have ever seen.
Running Time: 90 Mins