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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Review
July 26, 2013
It's time for DC's most famous speedster to step into the spotlight.
DC has a really solid track record when it comes to their animated movies, so going into one of their flicks with fairly high expectations is pretty understandable. The latest story they're tackling is Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert's FLASHPOINT. Regardless of how you feel about the story's execution, there's just no denying it's a super creative alternate timeline which is packed with loads of potential. While the latest DC animated film doesn't bring the same kind of emotional punch or grand scale Johns delivered, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox makes up for that with some really impressive action and tight pacing.
In case you haven't read the event, Flashpoint is all about Barry Allen aka Flash ending up in an alternate world -- a world where things have gone terribly wrong. Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war, and the battle between Atlanteans and the Amazons has absolutely devastated Europe. But that's hardly the only change to be found in this twisted reality. First and foremost, Flash doesn't exist here (meaning he needs to get his powers back) and his mother is still alive. Additionally, everyone from Batman to Superman to Cyborg have undergone rather massive changes from their New Earth versions. If you haven't read the story, I imagine you'll find some of these twists to be rather cool.
By now you should realize they're not going to simply do a direct translation and that's totally understandable. They're going to put their own spin on it and yes, that means plenty of changes. Sure, they've kept a good deal true to the source material and there's plenty of lines stripped straight from the issues, but there's also quite a few and rather big changes as well. For example, Element Woman isn't in it and instead Black Manta, Aqualad and a few others are given more prominent roles (I can hear you cheering from over here). Additionally, the Resistance members are given more love (Grifter rocks) and Deathstroke has a seriously awesome action sequence. Really, it's rad. Without diving into spoilers, Superman's handling is sure to be polarizing. It's a pretty shocking scene and visually impressive. I think it makes sense given the context, but like I said, opinions are sure to be divided with it and understandably so.
This movie thrives on the big brawls and it absolutely delivers in this regard. Aquaman and Wonder Woman have an epic encounter that reaches a jaw-dropping point. Clayface's role is short yet sweet and Shazam even gets the opportunity to throw some massive punches (but despite some superhuman slams, Billy Batson's role is really toned down). There's also a really neat (yet brief) moment where Flash attacks numerous gunmen and we're treated to some slow motion as Barry runs around the bullets. I understand they didn't want to overload us with slow motion, but I would have been more than happy to see this a second time. They also did an excellent job when it comes to presenting how insanely fast Flash's combos can be when he encounters Aquaman. As for Flash and Zoom, watching the two speed around is a good time, but their fight isn't all that grand compared to all of the other madness going down between other characters.
This movie definitely earns its PG-13 rating. There's plenty of blood during battles and even dismemberment, so if you're looking for an animated movie to watch with a youngling, this may not be the best choice. For everyone else, the violence works and serves to further illustrate how vicious this alternate world is. The final conflict may not feel as big and frenetic as the one in the comics, but it's downright brutal stuff.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradoxputs forward some great action, but it somewhat misses the mark when it comes to throwing a firm emotional punch. One thing I dug about Johns story was his ability to convey some strong emotion behind the relationships, and while they do attempt to duplicate that here, it never really hits home or reaches a point where the waterworks will potentially turn on. I get they can't include everything from the event, but a key scene is left out which really brought some heavy feels from the source material, so I'm surprised they didn't find a way to work it in.
It's a huge story, so naturally there's going to be a lot of exposition, but unfortunately it sometimes doesn't come off in an organic fashion. There's a few moments where it's delivered in a kind of bland tone and thrown out there just to catch up people who don't know about the alternate timeline. It's totally necessary to drop this knowledge, but it every now and then it feels forced. Lastly, I wasn't the biggest fan of the animation. Characters have massively bulky upper bodies and immensely lean and rigid torsos -- the anatomy just didn't work for me in most cases and the characters ended up feeling stiff in the less frenetic moments.
Is DC's latest animated effort worth adding to your collection? Yes, I believe so. It doesn't have the same level of emotion as the event which inspired it and I do have my complaints about some of the animation, but these criticisms are mostly outweighed by the sheer awesomeness of the action scenes and solid pacing. Plus, Nathan Fillion voices Hal Jordan, I mean, come on!!! Furthermore, there's a surprising amount of comedy thrown into this bleak world, and that's always something I'll greatly appreciate as well. DC has created yet another enjoyable animated movie, but given their track record, that really should come as no surprise by now. It may not be the best animated project and I do have my gripes, but it's one I'll definitely add to my collection and I can see myself enjoying at least a few more viewings over the years.