Maybe by this point you’ve had your fill of animated Justice League and are thinking, “they’re already doing it in live action. I feel like they’ve done all they could with these characters”. However, as long as there are writers, there will always be new JL stories and fresh things to do with them. This one, for example, follows a different team-up of characters. It’s a film adaptation of the Justice League Dark comic book series and tries to keep DC’s dark undertone. As a result, it comes out as a very mixed reaction from fans. I myself simply found it very formulaic and not that interesting story-wise.
The story starts with people all over America falling for a pandemic that causes them to see other people as demons, causing them to attack each other. The Justice League sees this as a magical cause and sends Batman to go undercover. He goes to Zatana for advice, who leads him to Deadman, who leads him to John Constantine, who leads him to Swamp thing, thus the team-up is completed. It turns out that Constantine was partners with the black magic keeper who started this mayhem and has the ability to fight it.
Story wise, this film is a little hard to follow. It’s full of complicated magic talk that is hard to translate. It’s not like the Doctor Strange movie, which took talk of sorcery and dimensions and made it seem interesting. In this film, it just kind of hurts your head. It’s also a very typical Justice League story formula: Weird stuff happens, they find the cause, and then they stop it. That’s basically how it goes. As an attempt to adapt the JL Dark series, and be dark at the same time, it works at times, but it doesn’t work that well when you add jokey characters like these or have moments like Batman fighting a giant shit monster. I’m not joking about that by the way. Batman actually fights a giant monster made of human feces in this. It’s disgusting but I found myself cracking up at that scene.
In terms of characters, they’re about the same as they’ve been portrayed before. Batman is still the same straight man who fights for good. He’s not voiced by Kevin Conroy but is instead reprised for a seventh time by Irish actor, Jason O’Mara, who still sounds like Batman without giving a hint of his accent. Constantine is a smart-ass, cynical anti-hero who always makes things more difficult for his team. Zatana is a powerful magician who is portrayed as caring. Deadman is the only character that annoys me. His accent is so irritating, and he gets the dumbest lines.
In terms of DC’s animated films, it’s not one of their strongest and definitely not as entertaining as the Justice League animated series. However, I’m already convinced that this one will still hold up better than the live-action movie coming up. If you feel like you’ve seen enough animated DC specials, you might want to leave this one on the shelves. But if you’re a dedicated DC fan or you want to see Batman take on a giant diarrhea monster, you’ll definitely want to check it out.