Usually, DC animated movies are just the business. The Flashpoint Paradox is literally one of my favourite movies of all time. Even Justice League: War compelled me to give that New 52 nonsense a chance. So when I say that I went into this movie with pre-conceived notions of greatness, I really mean it.
I was already prepared to hand this movie the usual pre-designated 7/10 headstart that DC animated films tend to deserve. But it seems that this movie’s unfortunate destiny is to be the exception that proves the rule.
Let me start with the good stuff.
The character design was flawless. I liked the new look that DC introduced in JL: War. Wonder Woman’s less flashy colours are more believable for a warrior. Batman’s old-school black and grey with the utility belt are a welcome throwback to my childhood. Superman and Shazam are suitably larger than their counterparts what with all that ridiculous strength. Cyborg’s suit is less gaudy and they’ve even managed to make Aquaman’s signature green and orange get up amenable to the eyes.
Where points were lost was in the actual motion of the characters. They felt choppy at times and that distracted from the entire experience. It’s just not fun trying to watch an epic battle scene and being constantly thwarted by oddly-timed and poorly executed scene changes.
Okay. That’s pretty much all the good stuff.
I’m not even going to touch the pre-52 character development work that was done by the Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Batman, Superman and various Justice League movies. Let’s just start by considering this as an independent film.
Wonder Woman. One word: WHY? She’s portrayed like a bit of a bimbo and I don’t get it. Her struggle to find a way to belong and “fit in” amongst the regular folk would make sense if we considered this movie alone, but even that is poorly executed. She basically rocks up to say “oh, Superman, take me out on a date”. I can’t.
And Superman, erm… I just couldn’t swallow his inability to speak when Lois Lane showed up. It felt a little forced, like DC wanted to appease all the anti-SuperWonder relationship folks by saying “Don’t worry! He’ll end up with Lois because she’s his true love in the end. Just look at how awkward this interaction is!”. Just give SuperWonder a chance to be great, guys.
Cyborg… that whole loneliest man-machine in the world thing felt ham-fisted.
We got some of that good banter between Batman and Green Lantern, which was nice, and then that Flash and Green Lantern banter which was okay… and well, that’s pretty much all the character development that happened there. Oh, and Shazam made childish jokes.
I’m not even sure what there is to say about Orm and Manta except that they couldn’t be anymore boring if they were literal cardboard cut-outs… and even then they’d at least leave a better after-taste. I really thought the age of the one-dimensional villain was behind us.
And finally Aquaman himself. He went from drunken bar brawler mourning his father to “I’m ready to be king of an entire underwater people” in the space of 3 minutes. I mean it. He was the star of this show and they literally just flipped a switch and called it character development.
What Is Plot Progression
I’m not sure how else I can iterate my disappointment in the progression of this movie. It was like watching a trilogy, except that they spliced the first half of the first movie and the second half of the last movie together and cut out all that stuff in between where the characters actually grow and the plot thickens. I’ll just stop there.
Look. I know what you’re thinking. This guy has gills and he’s the king of the sea-people. who are regularly attacked by literal fish-people…
But every universe Has. To. Make. Internal. Sense. Okay? I watched MirrorMask and it was ridiculous and whimsical… but the universe itself was internally consistent so it was awesome. Unless your world, like Alice In Wonderland, is founded on the premise of making no damn sense, please… keep it consistent.
So, what inconsistencies, you say? I’ll just go ahead and cut to the big one: The Trident can defeat the ENTIRE JUSTICE LEAGUE single-handedly but then Arthur not only withstands the trident’s power but actually freaking takes it?! I get that it responds only to royalty… but technically Diana is royalty (not to mention kind of a demi-god) and it screws her over. Did they mean Atlantean royalty? Well they should have been specific! Superman isn’t even from Earth, so how does it do a number on him? And it out-lightnings Shazam… C’mon guys.
That thing was just too O.P.
Also, Arthur just rocks up and after a short PSA courtesy of Cyborg, the Atlanteans forsake Orm – the only heir to the throne they’ve ever known – and swear allegiance to Arthur, who openly admits to having surfacer sensibilities? They’re not electing a diplomat to communicate with the surfacers here… they’re choosing a king who has divided loyalties. Just. Like. That.
Imagine if Prince William were to make the case for his coronation over his brother by saying “I know you never saw me before because I was the result of an illicit affair… and yeah, I was born British but quite honestly I’m American inside… but make me your king so we can have peace with America because that’s what really matters here.” Yeah, no.
Recommendation: The fact is, if you go into this movie expecting to see trademark DC animated movie genius… you will be disappointed no end. You will develop the superpower of bleeding out of your eyes. You will acquire the ability to write scathing tweets that scathe like no others. But if you want to see Meera kill a bunch of dudes with sea-water-turned-icicle-daggers as well as other pretty decent fight scenes with a little humour thrown in… you’ll be alright. At the end of the day, DC’s signature animation quality saves this from being a total loss.