Some minor spoilers ahead
I decided some time last year that I would just start pre ordering all the DC animated movies that were Batman related. These movies tend to not get cheaper on blu Ray and their availability on streaming media is a bit spotty. And even the not so good ones (Batman: Bad Blood) I still really enjoy. Batman stuff (DC in general & to a lesser extent Marvel also but outside the MCU there isn’t much worth watching) is like Star Wars to me: I would rather watch a bad Star Wars movie then no Star Wars movie. I want Batman tv shows, films, whatever to keep getting made. Bad or good isn’t as important to me at this point.
The quality used to be very important to me but Nolan’s Film Trilogy was the pinnacle of Batman storytelling (and I mean across the board, comics, cartoons etc) because it wasn’t dependent on any other property (like DKR is on Superman) and it told the complete story of Batman from cradle to grave. It’s not perfect but there’s really nothing like it in superhero fiction. It’s an epic. It tells a complete superhero life. Comics work the way they do because they’re soap operas for boys. But the Nolan trilogy throws that out the window and gives the definitive superhero myth in toto. Donner’s Superman I&II are the definitive origin epic…but they’re incomplete. They’re really just a beginning, we never got to see Donner & co’s full superhero potential blossom. For me Donner’s work on Superman is like the 90s Cowboys. If Jimmy Johnson had stayed I believe the Cowboys would’ve won 6 Super Bowls. If the MCU ever actually ends that will probably be THE definitive superhero epic…
But back to Batman many people have done a story or an origin or an else worlds tale (Blackest Night is a great complete Batman story) but the Nolan trilogy does the whole thing and does it very well. And because of that Batman is free to be funny again. Batman is free to be bad again, to take risks. I hated Batman 66 until I realized this. Now Batman 66 is amazing to me. It’s funny and classic and fun.
In any case Justice League Dark came out and it arrived on my doorstep this morning. And I think it’s really good. Batman has very little to do. My two favorite characters involved in this story are Batman and Swamp Thing. Neither is very important to the film. It’s mostly a John Constantine, Jason Blood, and Dead man show. Do not buy this if you want a great Batman story or a great Swamp Thing story. Zatanna even feels like she gets short shrift. But that’s okay. The stuff they do focus on is great. I really want to watch the cancelled Constantine show now.
As usual the voice acting is stellar. Especially from Matt Ryan (John Constantine) and Nicholas Turturro (Dead Man) who were the clear standouts. What little Roger Cross has to do with Swamp Thing is pretty amazing. I really want them to do a Swamp Thing standalone now just to hear his Swamp Thing again. Their version of the character feels spot on.
Swamp thing’s appearance is short but powerful. It’s also a little confusing…something happens during the climax which feels very strange. I don’t know enough about Swamp Thing to understand the implications and sadly the film never explains it. I don’t want to give away much more then that…you’ll probably know what I mean when you see it.
But this is a really cool look at the supernatural side of the DCU. Dead man and Constantine are great. Nothing is really bad at all.
The extras are cool but not amazing. The best thing about these releases is the bonus episodes they usually include (besides the generally high quality of the films of course). This release includes 2 episodes of the fantastic Batman: the brave and the bold. If you like Batman 66 and the DCU in general you need to check that show out. The episodes are supernatural themed and relate mostly to Dead man and Jason Blood.
If you’re a DC fan or a Doctor Strange fan I think you’ll dig this. Even Buffy fans or Harry Dresden fans will like the story and aesthetic a lot. It was highly enjoyable. I really hope they do a follow up. I’ll probably go pick up the JLDark New 52 stuff now. I almost did last year but wasn’t sure I’d like it and now I think I’m a fan…
Overall rating: 7/10