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‘Justice League Dark: Apokolips War’ (review)

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War serves as the final film of the DC Animated Universe, which began with Flashpoint Paradox (2013).

The movie opens with a quote from the serenity prayer that Nora Allen told her son, Barry.

“Accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

These words represent a synergy for the characters of this extended universe. Some can’t leave well enough alone, while others lack wisdom. Superman leads the Justice League along with John Constantine to the fiery hellscape of Apokolips to stop Darkseid once and for all.

However, it was all a part of Darkseid’s evil plan.

The story moves two years later, where the Justice League is gone, and Earth is a dystopian wasteland. Very few heroes remain as they mount a plan to make one last run at Darkseid.

While a depowered Superman and Lois Lane lead the resistance, the story is told through the eyes of Constantine and Raven. Both magic wielders had their own issues that allowed them to feed off each other as the story progressed. It was an example of excellent character work throughout the film. Superman also had an exciting arc where he was a jerk until humbled by the error of his ways.

Cursing, violence, and gory murder round out this mature offering as the creators were not shy about making the most of the film’s R-rating. One hero loses their leg while another is mutilated Mortal Kombat style. The amount of death and despair made it obvious that somehow, it would all be undone by the time the film ends. Plus, Flash being responsible for the Flashpoint Paradox is mentioned early on, which ensured it would come into play.

Normally, when the undoing of a grim story via time travel occurs, the shock value of seeing popular characters killed won’t resonate because it’s not meant to last. Because their deaths aren’t permanent, there is not a lot of care that goes into the execution of a character’s demise.

After all, there is no need to draw it if everyone knows they’re not really dead. However, all of the murder and sever injuries were drawn out to create maximum emotional impact. Mera’s reaction to Aquaman’s violent passing is an example of how the weight of despair created an engaging tension where it was easy to become emotionally invested in the journey despite knowing the result.

The “fix everything through time travel” gimmick had a subtle twist that not only spoke volumes but rewards the viewer for their time. The ending served as a lesson that perhaps, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it, which ties into the quote from Nora Allen.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is best described as Avengers Endgame meets Zack Snyder’s DCEU. The finality of it all brings about a sense of urgency, which augments the fantastic action and great character development.

While Warner Bros. hasn’t announced what’s next for future DC Comics’ animated adaptations, Apokolips War is a great film that not only gets better and better throughout its 90-minute run time but ends this connected universe on a tremendously night note.

 

 

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