Before I was the movie aficionado we all know and begrudgingly tolerate, I was a different kind of aficionado, one of DC comic books. Due to this, I find the DC Animated Universe very interesting, as they can tell the stories that I loved to read years ago like Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay and give the story it’s due, while the DCEU films about those same stories like Suicide Squad fall flat on its face, onto a set of stairs, tumbling down them and breaking every single bone. The DCAU has virtually led to this.
Aside from a few very interesting diversions into the multiverse such as Superman: Red Son or Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the story of the DCAU has all been building to Darkseid destroying Earth with films like Reign of the Supermen and Justice League: War all coming to a head here. Last year showed us that it is possible for major superhero franchises that have been going on for years to end a storyline really well with Avengers: Endgame. In fact, Endgame did such a good job at this, that Apokolips War lifts a large amount of it’s story from Endgame.
Timejump, failure to stop an intergalactic despot, a lot of murder, and time travel. So does Justice League Dark: Apokolips War end on a similar high note? Hahahaha, no. Not by a long shot. In fact, Apokolips War might be the worst film in the current storyline. So what makes it a disappointing finale to the current story? Well, let’s talk about that.
Starting with the positives, it does look nice. While the films are cranked out at a very fast pace, they do still have a lot of effort put into them. The character designs are all pretty cool, and the settings of Apokolips and dead Earth all look fantastic. The one problem the animation has is that when group action scenes happen and there’s tons of movement, the shot can become too busy. It’s the only problem as when duels happen, they look fantastic. It’s just when you have a group of characters fighting thousands of parademons, the action becomes difficult to track. Still though, the actual artwork is very nice to look at.
That’s all there is to praise, so let’s get into the crap, and the first layer has to be how Apokolips War uses its R rating. Comic book films do often face a huge battle in development to become rated R, so when they decide to take the risk, they go all out with the gore and language. This usually puts the films onto a spectrum going to the highs of Dredd or V for Vendetta, to the lows of Hellboy (2019) and Brightburn. Apokolips War falls pretty low on the list, as it definitely over extends the actual need for an R rating, as characters frequently curse and blood is this film’s version of water as it pours from characters like wine from a bottle. It overdoes the gore to an extent that in the end it just becomes surprisingly boring.
And speaking of surprisingly boring, another thing this film does poorly is storytelling. The first half hour is virtually just Endgame. Planet hopping, dead people, a multi-year time jump. As the film goes on though, it becomes… somehow even more bland. The last half hour virtually turns into a haunted house film with members of the Justice League, and that charade gets old incredibly quick. There’s only so long you can see a superhero turned into a perverted creation of nature, despite the cool designs, before you get bored of the whole thing. Then it all builds up to an incredibly disappointing finale in which the last sixteen films are rendered virtually pointless.
The film’s storytelling is disappointing to fans of the franchise, and with how dependent half the story is on knowing events of previous films, (Lex Luthor joining the Justice League, who Trigon is, ninety percent of character development) it is virtually impossible for newcomers to understand. It’s just Avengers: Endgame if they tried to condense it into ninety minutes. Admittedly, Endgame does have similar problems in that it’s hard to understand if you haven’t seen any of the previous films, but the main difference in that is… I mean come on, everyone has seen the Marvel films.
I wanted to talk about more things, but this film is such a carbon copy of so many other horror films, that it leaves your mind moments after you watch it. So, to close, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a film which is disappointing to fans and indecipherable to newcomers. The worst DCAU film since The Killing Joke adaptation that absolutely no one liked, and what may be the final- 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes? Are you kidding me? Why?
Personally, if I had to guess why this film is getting any positive reviews, it would probably be the fact that every movie that’s come out for the last five months have been either a terrible kids film like Scoob or a drama that no one watches The High Note. So unless you are a completionist of the DCAU, don’t waste your time with the latest entry, unless you’re into large amounts of cursing and way too much murder for anything to be enjoyable. But if you do enjoy that, my latest killing spree has been added to Twitch.