MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
When the Justice League takes the offensive by launching an attack on the war machine planet of Apokolips (ruled by the villainous Darkseid - voiced by Tony Todd), they suffer an unexpected defeat and massive casualties. Two years after this unfortunate turn of events, John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan) finds him in a post-apocalyptic universe where Darkseid reigns supreme, Batman and Lex Luthor serve at the supervillain’s side, and many of those he knew or loved have perished. It’s up to Constantine to gather the remaining members of the Justice League, Justice League Dark, Teen Titans, and Suicide Squad in one final attempt to end the tyrant’s reign and set things right.
The elephant in the room is that many viewers will want to immediately compare and contrast Apokolips War with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers: Endgame. Both films depict superheroes and epic drama, both films cap off a double-digit series of successful films that proceeded them, and both films faced the difficult task of crafting a satisfying ending that feels like an appropriate resolution for both multiple characters and their individual films. The one comparison this review will admit is that, like Endgame, Apokolips War does a fantastic job of weaving these storylines together into a succinct and powerful end chapter that also hints at how things could continue if someone at DC Animated wished to pick up that thread further down the line.
Like the previous Justice League Dark animated film, Apokolips War features an R-rating, and while some of the violence is brutal and graphic in nature, none of it seems explosive or excessive, but rather offers actual stakes to this climatic chapter. There are no guarantees for any of our heroes when it comes to making it out of this one.
DC comic fanatics will be excited to see the influence of Jack Kirby's New Gods onscreen, and the film features several fantastic “send off” performances from its stellar cast, including Ryan continuing his flawless Constantine portrayal, Jason O’Mara’s chilling turn as the villainous Batman, Stuart Allen’s Damian Wayne fully becoming the hero his father taught him to be, Jerry O’Connell’s broken and humbled Superman, and many more.
FINAL VERDICT: In the same way that King Shark is a shark (as he likes to remind us repeatedly in this movie), Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is exactly what it sounds like: a dark Justice League film that feels both like an apocalypse and a war. The writing is solid, the action is epic, and the cast is outstanding. Furthermore, readers who haven’t experienced the DC Animated Movie Universe films yet are strongly encouraged to do so now that the 15-movie arc is complete. While Apokolips War certainly isn’t the place to begin watching DCAMU, with this caliber of a finale to the overarching narrative, catching up on the DC Animated films in order to finish with this one seems like a great way to spend some of that quarantine time!
Creative Team: Matt Peters & Christina Sotta (Directors), James Tucker (Producer), Mairghread Scott (Screenplay), Christina Sotta & Ernie Altbacker (Story)
Production Company: Warner Bros. Animation/DC Entertainment
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