Vitals: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is an 81-minute feature-length animated movie based on the major DCU crossover event called Flashpoint, which happened two years ago and was helmed by writer Geoff Johns that resulted in a universe-wide reboot called “The New 52.” It can serve as either a stand-alone movie, or a primer for those who want a quick recap of how “The New 52” came to be without having to read all of Flashpoint in collected trades.
Plot: Barry Allen is Flash, a superhero speedster (i.e., he can run really, really, really fast) and a member of the Justice League. He wakes up one day after napping at work to discover that the entire world is different: no Flash, amnesiac girlfriend, non-existent Superman, and wrong-sounding gun-wielding Batman to name just a few of the many disturbing changes. More problematic is a pending apocalypse — turns out that in this reality Aquaman and Diana (aka Wonder Woman) have led their respective nations of Atlantis and Themyscira to war with each other, and the entire surface-dwelling planet is trapped in the crossfire! The movie follows Barry’s quest to reacquire his connection to the Speed Force, to figure out what has happened to the reality he remembers, and to hopefully save the world before it’s too late.
Here’s the trailer:
Pros: The film is another in a long-line of high quality animated adaptations of major DC story arcs that has come from the collaboration between DC Comics and Warner Brothers Animation. Fanboys and fangirls alike will delight at the return of some of your favourite DC Animated voice actors, including Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Nathan Fillion reprising his role as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. Other notable actors making their DC universe voice-acting debut in this film are C. Thomas Howell as Professor Zoom, Kevin McKidd as Thomas Wayne/Batman, and Cary Elwes as Aquaman. In short, this film is not lacking in awesome voice talent! Like many animated DC products, this film also is a fun game of “spot that obscure DC character”, featuring cameo appearances by such characters as Grifter, Godiva, and Aquagirl.
Cyborg/Victor Stone (aptly voiced by the rising star Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station), is the current JLA’s youngest member and a young African-American man whose body is largely cybernetic.
In this film, Cyborg plays a major supporting role: in the new reality, he has been appointed the director of National Security in the Obama Administration (yes, a wrong-sounding President Obama also makes an appearance!) and is seeking a solution to the Atlantean/Themysciran war. Additionally, two other fan-favourite Black characters have cameos in this movie: Black Manta and Kaldur’ahm/Aqualad (a wildly popular import from the animated Young Justice cartoon, which we will be reviewing next week for this feature). And yes, Kaldur’ahm still kicks ass.
Overall, the movie is fun, generally well-done, captivating, and the last-half is edge-of-your-seat exciting, particularly for someone who (like myself) isn’t too familiar with the comic book source material.
Cons: DC and Warner Brothers Animated have been churning out these animated films in part by relying on overseas animation houses. In my opinion, the quality of the animation is not up-to-par with some of the other animated films that have come out. The anime-inspired style produces a few gems (Batman vs. Yo-Yo is gratuitous and gorgeous) but ultimately doesn’t mesh perfectly with the darkness of the story. In addition, the first thirty minutes of the movie drags way more than it needs to. Finally, this film highlights the general lack of diversity in DC’s primary roster: although Cyborg has a great, prominent role, there are few other speaking roles for characters that aren’t reserved for White men. Wonder Woman’s Diana is the one primary character who isn’t male, and she’s sort of inexplicably psychotic.
Age-Appropriateness: This movie is rated PG-13 and it deserves every bit of that rating. It probably should’ve also been rated PG-Jenn. The subject matter includes murder, war and genocide. On-screen, there is a graphic amputation, decapitation, disintegration, and several other brutal murders; off-screen, there is an implied hanging and the killing of a child. There is also implied nudity and a sexual encounter. I wouldn’t let any child under the age of 13 watch this film unless they are either highly precocious and/or you are there to help them through the scarier sections. On the other hand, teen-aged and adult fans of comics will likely greatly enjoy this movie, particularly the latter half.