Being a huge fan of the DC Animated Universe (or DCAU), I usually tend the eat up all of the releases that have been made available. While they’ve been good for the most part, there has been a decline in the quality of them lately that started off slight and kept getting bigger. It’s good to know Warner Bros. has picked up on this and brought in legends Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett to write and produce their latest film, Justice League: Gods and Monsters. The movie may throw off some at first with its darker tone and alternate universe, but those who brave it will be treated to one of the best entries in the DCAU and well made films in general.
Taking place in an alternate universe, this Justice League is made up of Superman (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) who instead is General Zod’s son who is found by poor Latino migrant workers, Batman (voiced by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall) who is vampire named Kirk Langstrom (aka Man-Bat) due to an experiment gone wrong, and Wonder Woman (voiced by Tamara Taylor) who is a woman named Bekka with a troubled past (to say more would ruin one of the best surprises / origins of the film). These three do their best to save the world from evil, but without the typical hero limits. This means we get to see them go all out, which tends to get really messy when Batman drinks the blood of villains, Wonder Woman slices and dices baddies, and Superman burns them alive with his heat vision.
Normally DCAU films would do this kind of stuff just for kicks / to seem more edgy. This time though the violence is actually justified as most of the people they have to kill is the only way to stop them (a terrorist cell armed with a nuke at the beginning of the film for example) and hey, Batman’s got to eat right? Of course not everyone wants this new Justice League around with their god-like abilities, so someone decides to frame them of murdering the world’s top scientists, in order to fuel the world’s already growing fear of them. This prompts the league to find out who is really behind the murders, but it’s going to be hard when the US government activates a secret program that involves weapons capable of killing the league members. Yeah, you can already imagine the chaos that comes next when the league has to decide on saving the world from the real villain, or saving themselves by any means necessary.
Right from the jump, I was digging this dark but welcomed turn of events this movie brought up. It’s pretty cool not seeing the same ol’ Justice League and keeping it to just three members. I also liked how the violence is a little over the top but is necessary for not only their survival but the world’s. It was also fun seeing some of the villains fans know and love actually being good guys this time around, especially Lex Luthor being a Stephen Hawking-like character who is one of the world’s greatest minds but is confined to a wheelchair. All of these small but awesome changes make this easily one of the best films to come from the DCAU.
Watching all of this action unfold in high definition made it even better, as the visuals and sound come through perfectly on Blu-ray. Another plus is that the Blu-ray contains special features exclusive to the disc, such as “Alternate Realities: Infinite Possibilities” where some of the well known DCAU crew talk about the extensive history of alternate universe stories from the comics. “Calculated Risks: The Making of Gods and Monsters” gives viewers a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film, and the best features to me are the two bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault and a sneak peek at the next animated film, Batman: Bad Blood that looks to take place not long after Batman vs Robin.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a must-have for DCAU fans and for those who just like well made movies. Great writing, acting, drama and action come together to deliver a super-powered superhero film that’s rarely seen nowadays. If you’re looking for something new and great for your Blu-ray collection, this is the disc to get, as it’ll sink into you faster than Batman’s fangs.