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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013) direct to video animated movie review

Overall verdict: 8/10

The Good: dark and bleak tone, well rounded characterisations, top notch voice cast, dynamic fight scenes, opens up a world of possibilities for future animated projects

The Bad: sub-par animation, weird looking character designs, action may be a bit too bloody, other heroes reduced to bland one-note supporting characters.

3D Readiness: none
IMax-ability: none

The Flash is the fastest man in the DC comic universe and also, apparently, has an origin story copied from Peter Parker. His heroic motivations stemming from one fateful night where he returned home to discover his mother murdered. Then as an adult, A freak science accident grants Barry Allen the ability to tap into the mysterious Speed Force. With his super speed, Barry fights injustice as The Flash along side the worlds greatest Superheroes in the Justice League. But one day, Barry unknowingly changed the past, and rewrote time. Now, Bruce Wayne does not exist, WonderWoman and Aquaman are in the middle of world war three, and Cyborg is America's greatest law enforcer. The only way to put things right is to track down the evil Professor Zoom aka Reverse Flash, a fellow speedster from the future.

Though tagged as a Justice League movie, The Flashpoint Paradox is a Flash movie with the Justice League in supporting roles. Barry Allen is the main character and we really go into his head, deconstruct his personality, and see this twisted new world through his eyes. The writers and talent voice cast lend a good deal of realism to the characters, never over-acting but always keeping it real. They speak like how they would in a live action movie. And personally, I would have liked to see this as one. Sadly, no matter how well the voice cast do, they are hampered by th writers turning all the other heroes into one-note supporting characters. Then again, this was a flaw of the original source material.
The story gets an immediate "A". Like "The Dark Knight Returns" that came before this, It is a faithful adaptation of the hit miniseries that forever changed the status quo of the DC universe. The scope is epic, the scale is grand and the death toll is catastrophic. The Flashpoint Paradox gets Credit for being the darkest, bleakest DC tale ever seen in animation. Fans of the video game "Injustice: Gods Among Us" will definitely be pleased. Familiar heroes are recast in unfamiliar roles.

They clash and a lot of people die in rather gruesome ways.
Some lose their arms,
others lose their heads,

heroes are burnt,
gutted and skewered in ways that would make Mortal Kombat proud.

Now, Dc Animated movies has a reputation of having good stories and looking good at the same time. But The artwork here comes across like a tribute to everything 1990s; in particular, that era of anime

 and Rob Liefeld.

Elongated torsos, exaggerated expressions, and "bishonen" looking character designs are spliced with bulging anatomically impossible musculature, tree trunk think necks and over the too violence. Seriously, Wonder Woman looks like a CLAMP manga character,

Superman and Aquaman look like they stepped out of dragonball z or Fist of the North Star,

skinny characters look like Aeon Flux

and Batman looks like some bad cosplay.

The animation itself is good but could be better. Japanese anime studio 4C animated this piece and while action scenes are dynamic and a thrill to watch, there is a certain feel of "cheapness" to the animation. We have creative shot angles that mimic the best of anime action yet the actual animation lacks the smooth fluid character movements that previous studio Moi Animation did. Here the characters seem stiff, art tends to go off-model, movements seem unnatural and motion blur is used to hide animation short cuts.

A huge pity though. If DC had allowed Moi Animation to do this movie, better quality control and perhaps  character designs that were not so hilariously wonky, this movie would have been perfect. Accepting it for what it is, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a solid entry in DC's animated movie library. This show also hints at the start of a shared DC animated movie universe. For those who read the comics, we all know where this would be heading.

Even if DC cannot get their shared live action movie continuity going, I'd settle for animation.

*****************************Review End***************************

Entertainment: A
Story: A
Characters: A-
Animation: B
Art: B-
Music: B+
Voice work: A
Replay Value: B+
"Brains": D+

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