PaulRom Reviews: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX
On Blu-Ray and DVD tomorrow, DC's latest animated movie adapts the 2011 "Flashpoint" comic book story arc which led to the creation of "The New 52". Is Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox yet another winner for DC Entertainment? Find out in my spoiler-free take on the feature.
Cast: Justin Chambers, Kevin McKidd, Michael B. Jordan, C. Thomas Howell, Cary Elwes, Vanessa Marshall, Nathan Fillion, Kevin Conroy
Director: Jay Oliva
Running Time: 1 hr. 15 min.
Release Date: July 30th, 2013 (Home Video)
When time travel allows a past wrong to be righted for The Flash and his family, the ripples of the event prove disastrous as a fractured, alternate reality now exists where a Justice League never formed, and even Superman is nowhere to be found. Teaming with a grittier, more violent Dark Knight and Cyborg, Flash races to restore the continuity of his original timeline while this new world is ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman's Amazons and Aquaman’s Atlanteans. With breath taking action and an all-star voice cast, it's a bold, emotional vision that will forever change the landscape of the DC Universe.
DC has been churning out one great animated movie after another for several years now. Generating much-loved features such as Justice League: Doom, Wonder Woman and the two-part adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, fans are always anticipating the next project. Its latest direct-to-video release adapts the 2011 "Flashpoint" story arc, which led to the creation of the New 52 continuity. So, how does Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox fair?
Having not read the comic book arc, I was very captivated by the world of the alternative timeline that The Flash winds up in. The dark, apocalyptic vibe created by the war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman helps in building the much-needed tension, and the score is very good. The animation itself is fine, but I wasn't big on certain character designs. Some were drawn as too muscular (such as Superman, Cyborg and Aquaman), while Wonder Woman's face is narrower than I'd expect. (The latter is nothing more than a minor nitpick.) However, Flash himself looks great, as do Professor Zoom, Batman and others.
The voice acting is solid, as expected. Justin Chambers is excellent as The Flash, giving Barry Allen the depth and characterization needed. Kevin McKidd is top notch as the Flashpoint Batman. Thomas Wayne's Caped Crusader is even more terrifying than Bruce's, but at the same time, he's just as deep character-wise. Michael B. Jordan (who's actually my top choice to play the character in live action) is perfect as Cyborg, making Victor Stone a more likable character in my eyes. C. Thomas Howell is great as the villainous Professor Zoom. Sam Daly is okay as Superman (but doesn't hold a candle to his father Tim or George Newbern), while Cary Elwes was decent as Aquaman. However, Vanessa Marshall delivers a great portrayal of Wonder Woman; I thought she was better here than in Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths. And who doesn't love Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern and Ron Perlman as Deathstroke?
Pacing/running time has been an occasional issue in DC's animated films, with some (such as Batman: Year One) feeling particularly rushed. However, The Flashpoint Paradox offers a perfect pace despite the expected 75 minute running time. I found the writing and storytelling to be tighter and better here as well. Without spoiling anything, a handful of scenes were so emotional that they made me tear up a bit (which rarely happens when I watch an animated movie), particularly the ending. On another note, this film definitely ups the ante when it comes to violence/bloodshed. It's obviously a darker film than DC's usual, but the amount of brutality is unexpectedly on par with Wonder Woman and even The Dark Knight Returns to a degree.
Overall, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is yet another winner for DC. While not its greatest effort in the animation department, it does a mostly excellent job adapting an epic, mind-bending storyline. It's also great for The Flash to finally shine in the spotlight, with most of the Justice League acting more as supporting characters. Hopefully, future animated films will move away from Batman and Superman and focus more on other heroes. If you're a fan of DC animation or even DC characters in general, I highly recommend this one. Oh, and stay after the credits for another scene, which teases next year's Justice League: War.
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