Truth be told, I’m not entirely sold on DC rebooting their DC Universe Animated Original movie franchise. My feeling for this was compounded by their “just okay” first entry to their rebooted animated film universe, Superman: Man of Tomorrow. However, I’m more than okay to see where things would go afterwards, which is why I was really interested when they announced Justice Society: World War II as this was going to be the second entry to these supposedly interconnected films.
So, how does this film fare? Did Justice Society: World War II pique my interest for future installments now? Well, I’ll be giving you my thoughts on it below. Now, if you’re worried that I’ll be discussing specific plot points or reveal some of the twists of the film, don’t worry as this will be a SPOILER FREE review and I won’t be revealing any major developments found in Justice Society: World War II.
Justice Society: World War II starts out with Barry Allen as the Flash and Superman teaming up to take on Brainiac. When the villain fires a kryptonite bullet at the Man of Steel, the Flash races to intercepts the projectile and, due to this speed, inadvertently transports himself to World War II where he bumps into the Justice Society. Consisting of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Hourman, Hawkman, Black Canary and the Jay Garrick version of the Flash, he teams up with them in order to possibly find his way back as well as stop the Nazis from gathering mystical artifacts and using them to take over the world.
I really like the premise of Justice Society: World War II. So it’s rather disappointing that it never fully delivers on it. What should be a good old adventure gets incredibly convoluted and complicated by the middle of the film’s 84-minute runtime. I don’t mind DC trying to subvert expectations at all but the twists they do work into the story has to work and it just didn’t work for me. Not only that, the twists they do introduce came off as rather superficial and makes things feel bloated. I feel a more simple and straightforward story would’ve worked better. I can’t really go into details as this is a SPOILER FREE review but, if you were expecting a rip-roaring adventure in the same line of old film serials like I was, you’re going to be disappointed.
What’s not disappointing are the action scenes. They use a really good flow to the fights and they use really good angles to frame the fights. There’s also a lot of weight to the hits that are being delivered, making them all feel like they have some force behind those strikes when it counts. The on-screen action is good but there are some of them that do come off as rather subdued because there really isn’t any music to heighten the pace. I normally don’t notice background music but, when it’s not there, I’m somehow very aware that it’s not. There are only maybe a few strains of dramatic tunes sprinkled here and there but nothing to elevate the good fight scenes to excellent.
The voice acting is mostly good. The standouts are most definitely Stana Katic as Wonder Woman and Matt Bomer as Barry Allen. Matt Bomer had it easy as he’s basically using his regular voice in his role as the modern-age Flash. Stana Katic had a rougher job as she had to speak using a different accent. It’s like DC told her to try to mimic Gal Gadot’s accent but don’t do an exact copy of it. The result is surprisingly unique and definitely a different take on how Wonder Woman should sound like. I also have to give props to Chris Diamantopoulos’ Steve Trevor as he managed to give the right amount of cockiness to make him endearing.
Unfortunately, everyone in the voice cast brought their A-game. Most of them, such as Armen Taylor’s Jay Garrick and Matthew Mercer’s Hourman, do fairly well for themselves. It’s Elysia Rotaru’s Black Canary and Omid Abtahi’s Hawkman that fall short. The deliveries they give just sound a little too flat. I also have to give another thumbs down to Darren Criss’ Superman. I just think he’s miscast as I just don’t feel the optimism and heroism I associate with Superman in his line delivery.
The best thing about Justice Society: World War II is definitely its art style. It’s an improvement over the more cel-shaded look of Superman: Man of Tomorrow. I even mistook the latter film of being really good CGI because of how clean everything looked. While Justice Society: World War II strongly borrows that look, there’s a lot more detail in how the characters look and come off the screen. The animation is still incredibly fluid and, when needed, really fast-paced. Well, that’s to be expected since we not only have one Flash here, but two of them!
While the animation is really good, I just didn’t like some of the character designs. I like the look of both Flashes here but there’s just something off about how Barry Allen sans costume looks. In his costume he looks right but when he’s dressed in his civvies, he just looks too buff! He even looks more muscular than Superman! I also have issues with Wonder Woman’s hair but only when looking at her face straight on. It’s like she really poofed her hair up and, in retrospect, I guess it’s on purpose so that her hair doesn’t get in the way while she’s fighting. But because of the way it’s cropped up, Wonder Woman’s face looks extremely long!
Still, some of the takes they did with the rest of the Justice Society members look great. I really liked how Hawkman’s cowl/helmet looks really bulky. Hourman, although most of his face is covered by a mask and a hood, can still express emotions vividly because of how chunky his head is. The best design, in my opinion, goes to Black Canary as it looks like they really put a whole lot of detail to her hair. It just looks perfect for the era.
Now, the biggest questions is: do I recommend you watch Justice Society: World War II? Well, yes and no. While I didn’t personally like it, the story does have some interesting elements that I wish were executed better. Everything else, from the voice acting and animation is really good, though. But I just keep on going back to the plot and how the script tries to add a few too many unnecessary twists. Ultimately, I say give it a chance but, at the same time, don’t expect to remember it until the next DC Animated Original comes out.
Have you seen Justice Society: World War II? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!