DVD Review - Justice League: War
As odd as it sounds, so much time is dedicated to Victor Stone that I wish even more time was dedicated. It would have marked the first time that one of these direct-to-DVD, DC Universe Animated Original Movies had a black character take the center stage or was the absolute center. It is the 18th DC Universe Animated Original Movie and starring black characters would have advanced things considerably.
In the previous movie, Victor Stone was voiced by Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle and Fruitvale Station). Here, we get Shemar Moore (The Young and the Restless and Criminal Minds). Victor is a football star who is trying to impress his father Silas Stone, voiced by Rocky Carroll (Chicago Hope and NCIS).
Silas is a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs that is examining and studying alien technology. The latest of which is a "mother box" taken from what's called a Para-Demon, which looks like a huge, hulking, half-robotic, flying monkey. Batman and Green Lantern are also studying mother boxes that have popped up in cities like Gotham and other places across the globe.
Billy Batson is a teenage kid who can transform into an adult and Superman-like superhero named Shazam, and then back into a teenager again at will. As a teenager, he goes to Victor's football game and manages to take the seat reserved for Silas. Billy befriends Victor afterward. Billy and Victor's conversation and friendship then become the most interesting thing about this movie.
It perhaps tops the conversation and tenuous friendship between Batman and Green Lantern, which is arguably more exciting. Batman and Green Lantern get the biggest arc, as the two begin as strangers fighting each other. By the end, they bond in ways that are unexpected. Screenwriter Heath Corson tries to bond Superman to the two the same way but it feels off.
Directed by Jay Oliva who directed The Flashpoint Paradox, the previous DC Universe Animated Original Movie, it follows the same style as that previous movie. Oliva co-storyboarded Man of Steel, but, for this movie, his main character is a literal man of steel.
Victor is the true name of the character Cyborg, a half-man and half-robot. His origin is tantamount to the recent Robocop (2014) reboot. Oliva doesn't show as much body horror, but it's pretty gut-wrenching and disturbing to see Victor's transformation and the fusion of man to machine.
I think the ending of this movie is fine. It ends on a comedic note, comparing the so-called Justice League to Greek gods. In fact, Wonder Woman compares Batman to Hades who is the god of the underworld and Green Lantern to Apollo who is the god of light, appropriate because Lantern's power is derived from light energy. Flash is compared to Hermes who is the messenger god known for his speed, Shazam to Zeus who is the god of lightning, which is Shazam's chief logo and power and Cyborg is compared to Hephaestus who is the god of metal. It's appropriate, given the invented nature of the Greek gods.
I would have preferred a final note between Victor and Silas, but it doesn't happen.
Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 19 mins.