Warner Bros. are back with a brand new installment in the fan favorite DC
Universe Movies series, following the fun of the martial arts nostalgia of
Batman: Soul of the Dragon. Following the grand reset of the universe in 2020ís
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War dramatic conclusion, writers have had more
creative freedom to explore original installments, sparked by
Superman: Man of
Tomorrow. With no Batman in sight, the focus is instead spotlighting some of the
DCís oldest comic book iteration, harking back to the Golden Age of heroes with
the Justice Society of America.
Directed by Jeff Wamester, Justice Society: World War II centers on an
inexperienced but learning Barry Allen (Matt Bomer), who accidentally discovers
he can run faster than he thinks, ending up catapulted into the midst of World
War II by the Speed Force. The rookie speedster bumps into the Crimson Comet aka
Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor), another speedster whoís part of the a group of super
heroes known as The Justice Society of America. Led by Wonder Woman (Stana Katic),
the group also consists of Hourman (Matthew Mercer), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru),
Hawkman (Omid Abtahi) and Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos), as they try and
help the shift the tide against the Nazis and end the War.
As this is primarily a Barry Allen/Flash story, you can guarantee from the
outset you know what youíre going to be in for. Barry does what he does best and
accidentally travels through time (and the multi-verse!) in a fun and
action-packed romp based in the DC Golden Age, bumping into Wonder Woman and the
classic heroes of the Justice Society along the way. However writers Jeremy
Adams and Meghan Fitzmartin have much more in-store for the narrative, with a
surprisingly emotional journey complete with a couple of twists and turns (and
surprising cameos) along the way.
By having Barry travel through the multi-verse, Adams and Fitzmartin have freed
themselves from the shackles of continuity, allowing for a fresh and original
entry, much like 2013ís
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and the more
Batman: Soul of the Dragon. Thanks to a typical Speed Force mishap, the
action primarily revolves around the Justice Society attempting to stop Hitlerís
nefarious plot to track down artifacts in a very Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque
turn. Thereís also something very satisfying about seeing the Justice Society
taking down Nazis during the WWII conflict.
As per the previous animated DC outings, the characters are engaging and hugely
likeable. Bomerís young and still inexperienced version of the Scarlet Speedster
makes for a perfect entry point for the audience, and heís just so effortlessly
charming. I particularly enjoyed how the Doom Patrol actor managed to capture
the goofier, bumbling side of the man (once again) out of time, whilst also
incorporating the science smarts of the character. The rest of ensemble cast,
predominantly consisting of the Justice Society, are all also afforded
well-rounded arcs; Black Canary struggles with opening up to the affections of
Hawkman, while Hourman grapples with his self-worth when his strength only lasts
for an hour. However itís the charming central romance between Diana and Steve
Trevor which really steals the show, as Adams and Fitzmartin capitalise on the
chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pineís take on the characters. Darren
Criss also makes a brief but welcome return as the Man of Steel, connecting the
dots between the two new installments.
If there is one main let down in the new animated flick, itís the somewhat
disappointing villainous turns. Ranging from an all-too-brief inclusion of
Brainiac, to a disappointingly generic Golden Age Psycho-Pirate mind-controlling
a misunderstood Aquaman which draws away from the JSA battling the Nazi troops.
The character development is also nicely paired with plenty of fast paced
action, as the JSA intercept Nazi coded messages, battle plenty of German
soldiers and even go up against a full-scaled Atlantean army, complete with
giant Trench creatures. Thereís also a certain brutality to proceedings owning
to the War setting, with some action sequences dipping their toes into fairly
graphic scenes. The animation is very much in the same style as
Superman: Man of
Tomorrow, using thick-lines drawing from the more original comic book styles.
Justice Society: World War II is another fun and fast-paced outing from the DC
Universe Movies series, with Matt Bomerís take on Barry Allen a real charming
highlight. While this installment features a nice nod to the adventures of
Indiana Jones, the central dynamics lead to a surprisingly emotional
installment, set in the wonderful golden age of heroes.