The newest feature in the DC Animated Universe, Justice League Dark, serves as a delicious connector between the superheroes and the supernatural elements of the DC Universe, and as a bittersweet reminder of what we no longer have — meaning, no live-action Constantine TV series, nor that long-ago hope of a Justice League Dark movie by Guillermo del Toro.
When normal people begin going on murderous rampages all over the world, the Justice League is coming up short on answers. With a little nudging from Deadman, Batman seeks out Zatanna to help track down John Constantine, who brings together some of the most powerful mystical heroes to fight a demonic foe determined to sow chaos and bring an end to humanity.
Can Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Etrigan the Slayer, Swamp Thing, and Batman prevail where the Justice League cannot?
Matt Ryan returns to voice John Constantine, and even Jeremy Davies returns to voice his beleaguered friend Ritchie Simpson, which only served to make me miss Constantine even more. If the timing had been better, could that show have ended up on The CW with the other DC shows?
This film suffers from one major flaw: it’s too short for the story it’s trying to tell. 75 minutes is not long enough, although the featurettes on the Blu-ray almost make up for it. I think if they’d gone a full 90-minutes, some of the story points might have had time to breathe and be better connected to all the fast-paced action going in. There’s not enough Swamp Thing, and some of the supernatural heroes don’t get out of this unscathed. I’m curious about what implications those will have for future animated features, but I’m not in a position to offer wild-eyed geeky speculation.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun movie, and quick bits of banter between Batman and Constantine about gadgets and magic is amusing — two cynical loners with dark pasts and deep scars, both reluctant to ask for help because they don’t want to be responsible for anyone else getting hurt, have teamed up out of necessity. Irritated Batman is gold.
Because of the addition of the demons and the horrific nature of some of the crimes that people are subjected to when they are under the influence of the dark forces make this a very violent and bloody film; even the hinted-at atrocities are blood-soaked, as seen when Superman and Wonder Woman are horrified after stopping a couple of rampages. This movie earns it’s R rating.
Either way, this is an entertaining though slightly confusing addition to the DC Animated Universe, and if it brings about more Justice League Dark animated features, I will be happy to watch those as well.
Me, I’m also still hoping that someday we’ll get that live action Justice League Dark as envisioned by del Toro.
When innocent civilians begin committing unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession – but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. Forming a new “league” with sorceress Zatanna, otherworldly Deadman, and Jason Blood and his powerful alter ego Etrigan the Demon, this team of Dark Arts specialists must unravel the mystery of Earth’s supernatural plague and contend with the rising, powerful villainous forces behind the siege – before it’s too late for all of mankind.
Voice cast: Matt Ryan (Constantine), Jason O’Mara (Batman), Camilla Luddington (Zatanna), Nicholas Turturro (Deadman), Ray Chase (Jason Blood/Etrigan), Roger R. Cross (John Stewart/Swamp Thing), Jeremy Davies (Ritchie Simpson), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Jerry O’Connell (Superman), Enrico Colantoni (Felix Faust), Alfred Molina (Destiny)
Story by: J.M. DeMatteis and Ernie Altbacker
Teleplay by: Ernie Altbacker
Directed by: Jay Oliva
Character Designer: Phil Bourassa