Justice League: Gods and Monsters Is Dope REVIEW
Justice League Gods and Monsters is something fresh. After an extended time in the background, Bruce Timm returns to the forefront with the creation and development of Gods and Monsters. Alongside DCAU alum Alan Burnett and director Sam Lui, they create the best WB/DC animated direct to video release since Batman: Under The Red Hood.
The Trinity here is one never seen before. Superman is not Clark Kent but Hernan Gurra, biological son of General Zod and Lara Lor-Van, who crash lands on earth and is raised by migrant Mexican farmers. Wonder Woman is no longer Princess Diana of Themyscira, but Bekka, a New God, granddaughter of High Father, who escapes to Earth after one fateful day on Apokolips. Bruce Wayne’s parents are not shot and killed by Joe Chill, he’s not even here. Instead, Kirk Langstrom after experimenting on his own body transforms into a vampire and is simply called Batman. While they may share names, their approach to crime fighting is radically different. This trinity has no problem flexing their muscle, dishing out the harshest punishment, often leaving a pile of dead bodies in their wake. Because of this, the group has a strained, tense, often antagonistic relationship with the government.
However things start to change once leading scientists from around the world start being killed and the Justice League looks like the prime suspects. What follows is a story filled with plenty of action, revelations, mystery and intrigue. The league is aware someone is trying to set them up, but their arrogance allows their antagonist to remain two steps ahead of them. The mystery around the killings is simple and by the end of the film the reveal of the true is killer is only underwhelming from a lack of misdirection from earlier. Still the journey there is masterful, as the backstories for Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are expertly woven into the film. Superman is hard on criminals, because he grew up in a harsh world, were no one cared from the little guy. Batman’s transformation is the unforeseen result of science. Wonder Woman is trying to escape the violent past and future of New Genesis and Apokolips. By the end, audiences will want to see more stories and adventures from these characters and this world.
All the fun is not only saved for the League as other DC characters are reinvented as well. Amanda Waller as President of the United State. Lex Luther as a disgruntled scientist living behind the Moon. These are few, the film is filled with surprising creative cameos and supporting roles. They round the cast and help build this world into its own little DC universe. The excellent voice work by the cast helps bring these characters to life. Benjamin Bratt gives Superman a grounded, authoritative delivery. Tamra Taylor is a playful yet tough Bekka. Michael Hall’s Batman is cold and distant but plays well with his other league members.
The film is a return to the classic stylings that made Timm so famous. Broad shoulders and square jaws along with rounded faces and fierce eyes. Gone is the generic anime look of the last few WB/DC releases, replaced with a design featuring distinct personality. Even the directing by Sam Lui feels like a throwback. The camera stays focused on the action. Scenes move briskly. There is an excellent ebb and flow giving audiences enough time to get to know the new Trinity.
The action is intense throughout and the film easily earns its PG-13 rating. Still unlike recent DC animated films, the violence here is not set dressing. It is the reason why the government, media and parts of the population are concerned with the League. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman can be brutal and scary at times. Showing a Kanye like “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” attitude. Their use of force comes with consequences and the League will have deal with in the end. The Brutality of this League is used in a way to aide the story and does not feel like a cheap attempt to bump the rating.
Gods and Monsters shows why Bruce Timm is a master of this medium. The film is not as “dark” as some positioned it as but a honest look at what happen super heroes are as violent as the people they are taking out. Perhaps best, Gods and Monsters tells an original story. Film adaptions of classic stories can be fun, but are limiting at time. Bruce Timm and crew are at their best when they can take the essence and fundamentals of super heroes and their lore, plays with them and create their own tales. This is were Gods and Monsters excels. The film is an easy must watch for fans of DC and animated films.
Justice League Gods and Monsters is available now for Digital rental/Purchase and on Blu-Ray/DVD.