JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK APOKOLIPS WAR
(***)
"...a thrilling conclusion to the saga that offers no shortage of long-awaited fights"

Animated New 52 Draws to a Close

(073120) Although it sounds like a direct sequel to 2017's outstanding Justice League Dark, Matt Peters and Christina Sotta's Justice League Dark: Apokolips War wraps up an interlinked series of some fifteen direct-to-video animated productions beginning with 2013's Flashpoint Paradox and last explored during 2019's Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. Needless to say, this is not something you can just casually plop down and watch -- in fact, you might need a spreadsheet handy just to keep track of everything that happens during this densely packed but ultimately rewarding film.

And while keeping track of extended continuity isn't exactly my strong suit, Apokolips War's strong narrative flow and all-star lineup make it a challenge worth taking on. This is a thrilling conclusion to the saga that offers no shortage of long-awaited fights, brutally unexpected plot twists, and a metric ton of major character deaths that, in any other context, would cause rioting in the streets. In fact, I barely know how to describe Apokolips War's basic plot without inadvertently spoiling a few things (and probably have already, to be honest), so let's keep this short.

Supreme baddie Darkseid has conquered just about every notable planet and Earth is next, with only the Justice League standing in his way. He's got the technological advantage through access to League member Cyborg's optics, but they travel to his home world of Apokolips while the Teen Titans stay back on Earth. Unfortunately, it doesn't go well and, within two years, Earth is a wasteland and any surviving superheroes are either cast to the wind or in pretty bad shape -- even Superman has lost his powers after a liquid Kryponite injection, and Batman's nowhere to be found. A regroup is in order, but the staggered JLA members aren't entirely hopeful or even willing at first: John Constantine drinks his life away in a pub with Etrigan the Demon, a gaunt Raven roams around with Clark Kent, the Suicide Squad (led by Harley Quinn) and Lois Lane literally fight for entertainment, and Damian Wayne isn't exactly itching to look for his father. After they gradually join forces, a second attack on Apokolips is planned...but in such an already-weakened state, the piecemeal Justice League's chances aren't promising. They try anyway, of course.

This is an extremely violent, high-stakes adventure and all your other favorites are here too -- for a little while, at least. Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Zatanna, Flash, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, Shazam, Bane, Cheetah, the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Blue Beetle, Kilowog, the Guardians of the Universe, and at least a few dozen others. Sure, they don't all get speaking parts and are somewhat wasted in their limited roles, but Apokolips War packs an awful lot into its 91-minute lifespan so it's understandable. For the most part, the story is well-paced with basically the entire second half focusing on our heroes' final push through Apokolips and, as the body count rises considerably, the almost numbing effect of non-stop chaos is eventually resolved with a reasonably peaceful and sanguine epilogue. That's pretty much exactly what I was hoping to get out of all this, so anyone who's followed the story thus far should enjoy what Apokolips War brings to the table.

Expansive and interlinked multi-part epics are admittedly not by favorite thing in the world, but DC's fifteen-film saga (beginning with
Flashpoint Paradox) had plenty of highlights and this final chapter wraps things up nicely. Featuring an all-star cast of characters, high stakes, lots of action, and an almost unreasonable amount of deaths, this over-the-top conclusion offers enough chaos and closure to satisfy DC's most demanding fans.

Directed by:    Matt Peters, Christina Sotta
Written by:   Screenplay by: Ernie Altbacker & Mairghread Scott. Based on a story by Mairghread Scott
Starring the Voices Of:    Roger Cross, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Gorham
Released:    050520
Length:    91 minutes
Rating:    Rated R for bloody violence, language, and some sexual references

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK APOKOLIPS WAR   2020 Warner Bros. Animation
Review 2020 Alternate Reality, Inc.