By Dustin Cabeal
My Twitter profile picture should give you a general idea of my excitement for this film and for writing this review of it. The animated DC films as of late have been underwhelming. Part of me wants to say, “I’m glad they exist,” but then the other part of me has a hard justifying them when I don’t even want to show them to my child in the future.
Justice League Dark is only loosely based on the comic of the same title. It has some of the same characters, but in all actuality, it is a fan-fiction episode of the canceled NBC show Constantine. Now, I enjoyed that show for the most part. There was a huge misstep with the first episode and an even bigger misstep when it returned from the winter finale. You know what, though? I don’t miss it. It wasn’t that good, nor was the characterization of Constantine.
That poor characterization continues in Justice League Dark in which we’re told Constantine is a bad dude rather than shown. We’re given a few pitiful examples that play towards advancing the story line more than they do his character. If you don’t, believe me, they got two of the characters from Constantine to reprise their roles for the animated film. Matt Ryan and Jeremy Davies both make a return, and I will just say that I’ve grown tired of Matt Ryan’s version of John Constantine.
Because much like the comic book the average fan wouldn’t buy this without a big-time character on it, they throw Batman into the story. He throws batarangs, and that’s the only thing that happens involving Batman. I wish I were joking, but he’s utterly useless, and I have no idea why he’s on the team other than “We need Batman in this movie.”
The story is transparent. It even does the terrible comic book gimmick of starting on action and then working backward in the story. Essentially, we see a “demonic” attack, and then upon its conclusion, we go to the true start of the story which is Constantine playing poker with Demons. Guess which one was a better opening? The poker playing. It is very concerning that a terrible and cheap comic book writing device has bled into the animation world.
The animation is the only good thing. It’s the same style as the rebooted and strangely in-continuity Justice League films. Wonder Woman is still rocking that outfit that they won’t put in the comics for some reason; it’s seriously the coolest design for her costume since “Wonder Woman Pants.” The animation isn’t the problem, it’s great and puts the other corporately owned comic book adapted animations to shame. The story, though, just isn’t there.
I always thought that the Constantine TV show was overrated. Sure, it was enjoyable at the time, but this proved that it was fundamentally broken from the beginning. Not even a wide range of characters and contracted WB actors could make this film entertaining or enjoyable. If they do a sequel, not even morbid curiosity could bring me back.
Justice League Dark
Run Time: 1h 15min
Rated: R (Because people die or something)