"Justice League: War" is the 18th film in the DC Universe Animated series and is based on the Geoff Johns and Jim Lee 2011 "Justice League: Origin" storyline.
With a great balance of action, drama and just the right amount of humor, the film is an almost perfect adaptation of the comic book storyline and does a wonderful job of presenting the events that took place that ultimately led to the initial formation of the Justice League.
The film kicks off with a series of strange abductions occurring in Gotham City with video footage of a wanted costumed vigilante, known as Batman, to be behind the incidents.
The storyline then switches over to Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) arriving on the scene when a mysterious cloaked kidnapper abducts a woman. Upon saving her when she is dropped from above, a battle ensues between Green Lantern and the kidnapper who reveals itself to be a monstrous Parademon.
Just when the Green Lantern is about to get killed by the creature, Batman intervenes and saves him while the Parademon resumes its position and attacks both heroes. They two escape from Gotham City Police officers and chase the Parademon into the sewers, where it charges a Mother Box, and then it explodes.
After checking the Box, Batman and Green Lantern deduce that it is of alien origin (possibly Kryptonian) and decide to seek out Superman for explanation. At the same time, another Mother Box which was supplied by The Flash (Barry Allen) is being studied by Silas Stone at S.T.A.R. Labs.
Arriving in Metropolis, Batman and Green Lantern wind up in a battle with Superman (who has fought a Parademon previously) and confuses the heroes for working with it. The ensuing battle takes place over a vast portion of the city before finally coming to an abrupt end when Batman reveals that he knows the Man of Steel and Clark Kent are one in the same. In return, Superman reveals that he knows Batman and Bruce Wayne are one in the same as well. He goes on to confirm that the two heroes were correct in their assumption of the Mother Box being of alien decent but not of a Kryptonian origin.
Gearing up to the true guts of the film's storyline, the action switches over to the alien world of Apokolips where the planet's ruler, Darkseid orders Desaad to begin an invasion on Earth.
The overall animation of "Justice League: War" is pretty solid but does lack the punch and smooth style of previous DC Universe Animated films such as "All-Star Superman", "Batman: Under the Red Hood" and the more recent "Superman: Unbound." My only other complaint would be the replacement of Aquaman, who was featured in the comic book storyline, with that of the character Shazam.
While the script is well written, there is practically no time spent on establishing background information as it is assumed that the audience is familiar with the "New 52" DC universe and already knows the revamped origins of all the characters.
Easily the best aspect of "Justice League: War" is the voice casting. While the familiar cast from the Justice League animated tv series has been replaced with new voice actors, each individual does a superb job of making their respective characters their own as opposed to tryin to mimic or copy what has come before.
Jason O'Mara does a wonderful job establishing his role as Batman offering a different take on the character than that of Kevin Conroy who is well known for voicing the iconic character for many years. Justin Kirk is also phenominal in his debut as the voice of Green Lantern/Hal Jordan.
Rounding out the "Justice League: War" primary cast are Alan Tudyk (Superman), Michelle Monaghan (Wonder Woman), Shemar Moore (Cyborg/Victor Stone), Christopher Gorham (Flash/Barry Allen), Sean Astin (Shazam), Zach Callison (Billy Batson), Steven Blum (Darkseid), Bruce Thomas (Desaad), and Dee Bradley Baker (Parademons).
In the end "Justice League: War" is pretty solid, but not remarkable. It plays very well but could have been a bit longer to encompass more of the "Justice League: Origin" storyline and increase the fight sequences which are easily the strongest points of the movie. Although the film does have a PG-13 rating due to vilolence and language, it is nothing more than what one would expect in an episode of Justice League animated tv series.
All-in-all, I'd rank this film as one of DC's best in the series so far and is one release you will defintely want to add to your movie collection..
Warner Home Video have once again done an amazing with the bonus content included on the "Justice League: War" Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet combo pack.
First up is the featurette "Deconstructing Justice League: War" which showcases director Jay Oliva teaming up with artist Jim Lee as they compare and contrast the comic-to-screen process of some of the most memorable moments in the film.
Another featuretter is "Creating Heroes: The Life and Art of Jim Lee" which explores the work of master artist Jim Lee, from his early days to his current position as co-Publisher of DC Entertainment and his comic collaboration with Geoff Johns.
Next up is the "Making Of Justice League: War - Act D" which features all the stages the animated film went through including an early animatic, a pencil test, and the final stanza of the film.
Lastly, to help hype interest in the next DC Universe animated release, viewers are treated to a sneak peek at "Son of Batman" which is based on the Grant Morrison scripted "Batman & Son" story that appeared in the comic book Batman starting in #655 and ending in #658 as published by DC Comics in 2006.
The following four animated episodes from the DC Comics Vault are also featured with this release:
Justice League Unlimited Season 3 "Destroyer"
Batman: The Brave and The Bold Season 2 "The Malicious Mr. Mind"
Young Justice Invasion: Destiny Calling Season 2 Part 1 "Happy New Year"
Young Justice Invasion: Destiny Calling Season 2 Part 1 "Earthlings"
Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new "Justice League: War" arrives February 4, 2014 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD and for Download. Both the Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD will include an UltraViiolet™ Digital Copy.