For those unfamiliar with it, Justice League Dark is essentially a group of heroes dedicated to deal with mystical and supernatural threats, that otherwise the core Justice League team has no expertise on. Warner Bro’s second foray in R-rated territory has Constantine as the lead character, who investigates a paranormal incident that is causing horror and carnage in several areas of world. Zatana and Deadman are the other ‘Dark’ rosters involved, with Swamp Things making a formidably cool cameo.
Justice League Dark might be treading on uncharted territory here, but its a step in right direction to introduce a new genre in the animated cannon, that otherwise has been obscured with mostly Justice League, Batman and its spin-offs lately. Talking of which, this movie doesn’t leave any opportunity to milk out Batman either. He tags along with Justice League Dark team during all the run-time without adding anything of merit to the plot. However, considering his popularity, it’s also a probable proposition that his involvement could be inviting for the people with less interest in the B-squad, so they can connect with it.
The film has enough gore and violence that fulfill the requisite to warrant the R-rating. As far the plot goes, it essentially is an origin story that swiftly dives deep in the mystical realm of Constantine. The ordinary people are committing horrific crimes, their hallucination is making them see others as demons. Justice League is quick to respond but they gauge out the supernatural elements involved and Batman makes the call to contact the Occult detective, John Constantine. Afterwards we get introduced to Zatana and Deadman and also get a brief idea about their origin and background. His investigation to unravel the mystery spans throughout the film.
While the film knocks it out of the park with Constantine by getting his violent and anti-social attitude right as he leads the story. There is ample run-time for Deadman and Zatana to showcase their diverse power-sets and abilities, while still keeping it relevant to the plot. All the big three set-pieces of the film are crafted in a manner that allows all the members of Dark to shine at what they do. I especially loved the Swamp Things’ strongly intriguing appearance that resonated his persona. The team dynamic and banter are often fun to see, the wise-cracks and word play are as good as they are in comics. The plot points might feel overly intricate for some, but it does make up a strong story when all the dots are connected. That also reveal the intricate plan of the villain which is related with the interesting background of Blood and Etrigan.
I found the animation and character designs pretty decent. The characters dons the costume that are mostly inspired from the new 52 series of comic books. A trend that we have been witnessing since the release of Justice League War. A lot of animated features use a mix of CGI and traditional animation techniques these days and transition between those are often disjointed and muddled. But Dark handles it really well. Not to be ignored the consistent decent frame-rates throughout the movie, that lacked in some previous Dc animated films. All of it is accompanied by the compelling action sequences and energizing sound track.
DC comics and Warner Bros animated originals have come a long way since the debut of Superman: Doomsday. Throughout all these years, they have shown a vested interest in bringing some of the most iconic stories and events from comic books to animation. Because of these animated features, many of these comic book adaptations like Flashpoint, The Dark Knight Returns have garnered a place of utmost importance in pop-culture. With creative ventures like Justice League Dark, Dc continues to set the example of powerful story telling and building the universe through animation. And Justice League dark is one of those strong ground works that has helped DC become the pioneer in building the animated film universe.