Blu-ray Review: Justice Society: World War II
Written by: Jeremy Adams & Meghan Fitzmartin
Starring: Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Geoffrey Arend, Armen Taylor, Elysia Rotaru, Liam McIntyre
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Thanks go to WB for the free review copy.
“Justice Society: World War II finds modern-day Barry Allen – prior to the formation of the Justice League – discovering he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. The Flash is promptly launched into the midst of a raging battle – primarily between Nazis and a team of Golden Age DC Super Heroes known as The Justice Society of America. Led by Wonder Woman, the group includes Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The Flash quickly volunteers to assist his fellow heroes in tipping the scales of war in their favor, while the team tries to figure out how to send him home. But it won’t be easy as complications and emotions run deep in this time-skipping World War II thriller.”
Even though this latest flick in the DC animated line had the built-in appeal of it being the first film of any sort to be headlined by DC’s original superhero team, the Justice Society, and a kick-ass trailer going in, nothing really prepared me for what I was about to watch. And I mean that in a good way.
You see, while Justice Society: World War II does actually show superheroes fighting Nazis during, well, World War II, there’s a lot more going on than I anticipated. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of twists and turns in store for viewers, not to mention there being connections to the bigger picture. I won’t spoil the details, but the story does somewhat connect to Barry Allen AKA The Flash and his life in the present day. It probably won’t be long before we see a full-blown, modern Justice League film set in this continuity. And if you’re wondering if that means this takes place in the same continuity as Superman: Man of Tomorrow and the upcoming Batman: The Long Halloween, then this me confirming that, yes, it does.
As much as Wonder Woman dominates in this movie, I can’t help feeling Barry Allen is the true main character. Or at least that’s the feeling I got, as we learn just what’s going on alongside him. He’s our surrogate of sorts in this piece. Still, the wartime setting will make fans of the live action Wonder Woman picture released in 2017 feel right at home.
Make no mistake, there’s a lot of heart to this as well. Whether it be the “will they or won’t they?” dynamic between Diana Prince and Steve Trevor or the brother/sister relationship shared by Black Canary and Hawkman, it shouldn’t take viewers very long to become emotionally invested in these iterations of the characters. Heck, Barry himself does some soul-searching as he ponders his present-day courtship of Iris West. Not only that, but we get some “Flash of Two Worlds” nods when he fights alongside Jay Garrick!
To me, Justice Society: World War II is somewhat reminiscent of Superman: The Movie insofar that it’s clearly broken up into defined acts. Again, I’m not going to spoil the twists and turns, but the first, second, and third acts are all very distinct. The filmmakers really let their creative juices flow, and it shows.
Getting to the topic of bonus features, those are anchored by the latest showcase short, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Although I’m no Kamandi super fan myself, I enjoyed his segment much more than I had anticipated. To be quite honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel.
Other than that, there’s also a filmmakers’ roundtable of sorts dubbed “Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II,” in which the creative team discuss what went in to making this epic. Two bonus episodes of Justice League were also a nice side dish, but the sneak peek at Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One really got me going. To say that finally seeing one of my favorite Batman comics being adapted gets me excited is an understatement.
Believe it or not, there isn’t much in the negative column to discuss. The only aspect that slightly bugged me was that of the antagonistic variety. The chief villain of the piece is kind of weak, and I didn’t expect to see the JSA battling Kaiju. I know this sounds like a contradiction of my complimenting the twists and turns earlier, but I naturally assumed a big battle of some sort with the Axis was in store. Having said that, the execution of what we did receive was rather well.
If you’re a lover of Justice League: The New Frontier and/or Wonder Woman (2017), then you really should check out Justice Society: World War II. I never expected to see a Justice Society movie of any sort during my lifetime, and I would certainly welcome more. Additionally, this is proof positive of the Flash being long overdue for a solo animated feature of his own.