YES! A rock ‘em, sock ‘em, full length animated feature with the big time super heroes we all know and love kicking butt and taking names. What more could a comic book fan ask for?
Well, he or she might ask for a plot with high energy characters and a dynamic story line, or for big time effects like worldwide destruction and time travel. All that and more can be found in “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox,” a joint venture from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Entertainment.
My perception of comic book characters has always been a bit tilted. I’ve thought of them, and their adventures, as unrealistic and even slightly childish. This has been disproved many times over, of course. Hollywood has been making big budget live action feature films about these men and women for years, and they’ve been financially successful in ways many other film genres would probably like to figure out for themselves. While “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” may not appeal to the same widespread audience, it does dig in much deeper than I expected, and it does it in a mature way that some live action super hero titles could take a lesson from.
I didn’t grow up reading the comics these individual characters were taken from, and I don’t have a particular connection to one or another in a super serious regard. I do see them all as attractive to different fans in different ways, and given the great attention to detail this film provides, it’s hard to believe they won’t be more appealing. Understand that “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” isn’t a feel good title either, which means we see good things and some not so good things. There is violence, profanity and combat. It’s PG-13, and while it pales in comparison to a horror flick, you may as well know what you’re stepping into.
The Flash, aka Barry Allen (voiced by Justin Chambers), is still struggling with his mother’s death. His arch enemy, Professor Zoom (C. Thomas Howell), stages a break-in at the Flash Museum with some bad guys tucked in his back pocket. The Justice League shows up to save the day, and although Zoom escapes, Batman (Kevin Conroy) urges him to let things go.
After cooling off, Flash awakens and realizes the world around him has completely changed. There is no Justice League, he has no powers and the world is more or less in shambles with folks like Aquaman (Cary Elwes) having sunken most of Western Europe while Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) runs Great Britain. Flash heads to Wayne Manor looking for Batman, but discovers that Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman in this environment. Instead, it’s Bruce’s father, Thomas (Kevin McKidd), who portrays a very dark and ruthless Batman, haunted by his son’s death many years ago.
The stage is set for Flash to figure out how to regain his powers and fix the time warp he goofed on so his reality can be reset to normal. It doesn’t come without some help from trusty names like Cyborg (Michael B. Jordan), the Green lantern (Nathan Fillion), Superman (Sam Daly) and even Lois Lane (Dana Delany). In the end, following some pretty epic struggles and combat sequences, it’s Flash who saves the day, and humanity, with one epic sprint through time.
This is an all new original film that takes a few liberties from the traditions these comics are best known for. Dedicated fans will probably notice quite a few of those “In the comics, it was this way…but in ‘Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox,’ they did it like this instead” moments. Our heroes are great and passionate for what’s right, but most of them are also conflicted about how to take care of business and maintain their own sanity and peace at the same time. We see their compassionate sides surface periodically, but I’d say that “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” is a dark film at the end of the day.
I know it’s a comic book film and that things are very over the top, but the Justice League is made up of some pretty ripped dudes. Muscle tends to mean strength, of course, but Batman and Flash are at the point where any degree of flexing would probably rip a sleeve apart. Another notable element to “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” is how these folks don’t just tap into their super powers, but common everyday weapons. The Batman in Flash’s alternative time warp reality is a gunslinger like no other, pushing back on our traditional understanding of Batman as a scientist. Everything from bows and arrows to near nuclear weapons seems to make an appearance in “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.” The super powers seem to take a back seat.
This is a fun title that allows its action to be balanced with its character development and transitions between spaces and times. I was hesitant at first, but warmed up to the title in a way I didn’t first anticipate. Voices are implemented with poise and strength from all who come to the table, and the story line’s multiple plots are well implemented. It’s more violent than I expected to see, but not in a way that deterred my attention. Fans of DC Comics and these timeless characters will be well rewarded with the plus/minus 80 minute film.
On Blu-ray, “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” looks as good as almost any animation I’ve come across. Presented in a 1.78:1 1080p High Definition video transfer, we’re able to watch our heroes transition from environment to environment flawlessly. The images are sharp and vivid throughout, and details are surprisingly polished. The plot might be rough around the edges, but the look and feel aren’t.
I enjoyed the film’s English 5.1 DTS-High Definition Master Audio soundtrack. It effectively connotes mood, tone and urgency. The film’s audio effects are perhaps more authentic than those in some real live action films. Things like explosions, punches and weapon clashing come to life through some decent surround sound. I imagine if you were simply listening and not watching, you might not be able to tell that what was on screen wasn’t live action. Additional audio selections are Dolby Digital 5.1s in French and Spanish, while subtitle choices are English and French.
The combo pack includes standard definition DVD and UltraViolet copies of the film, plus a featurette called “My Favorite Villain! The Flash Bad Guys,” an audio commentary featuring writer Geoff Johns, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Jim Krieg and director Jay Oliva, as well as a digital comic titled “Flashpoint #1.” There are 4 bonus cartoons available, plus a sneak peek at another upcoming film called “Justice League: War.”
A Final Word:
It’s a decent ride into a world where the bumps are more like mountains and the stakes are as high as ever. “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” entertains in a deeper manner than I anticipated, and it does so in a way that opens up a bit more about the characters and heroes put forward. This title will be very well received by fans, and might even entice a few new ones.