The DC Animated Universe cartoons from the ’90s and early ’00s were heralded as some of the best of their time.
The original Batman: The Animated Series, is called a modern classic, with its successors Superman, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited following closely behind it without quite reaching its lofty heights.
Once those shows ran their course, the WB decided to release direct-to-video movies based on the DC characters and tell stories that may not work as part of a series, but would fare better as standalone titles.
While the Justice League name is used in this movie’s title, it’s important to note that it is really a Flash story with some JL characters included.
The latest DC Comics animated adaptation of a comic tale called Flashpoint starts off with Barry Allen and his mother with a broken down car hoping for the good in humanity to shine through and help them in a time of need before fading to her birthday and murder.
Barry’s life is changed forever with the loss of his parent, and instead of allowing this event to destroy him, he uses it to mold him into a better person.
However, one day he wakes up and finds while the world he’s in appears a bit off with his superpowers not activating before turning almost scary when he finds that his mother is alive.
Barry initially views this as a good thing, but seeks to learn more so he goes to Wayne Manor to find that Bruce Wayne isn’t there. In his place is Thomas – his father.
Bruce perished and his wife went insane with a Joker laugh – leading him to become a heartless vigilante who used guns to extract vengeance on those he felt had done him wrong. Barry tries to explain himself, but winds up with two broken fingers and a single chance to explain that there’s another dimension after saying he knows what happens to Bruce.
Thomas isn’t quite sure what to believe, but spares his life, and it leads to them forming a partnership that neither feels is ideal, but will help them figure out what’s going on.
What follows is a tale that sees numerous other DC Comics heroes like the Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Superman in the alternate universe presented in a much darker manner than usual.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman have each gone mad with power, while Superman has gone from a powerful man raised by loving parents to an emaciated shell of his former self due to the government. It’s up to the Flash, Batman, Superman, and Cyborg to do what they can to make things right in the alternate universe. It’s a compelling, if predictable story that makes you care about the plight of Barry Allen and every other major character. The movie’s runtime, including the credits, is 81 minutes.
On the AV side of things, Flashpoint has impressive animation and looks great when there isn’t a jarring shift between the hand-animated stuff and CGI. The colors on the Blu-Ray are nice and crisp with sharp lines for everything, while the DVD looks great from afar.
Unfortunately, when viewed up close, you notice imperfections. Pixellation is readily apparent, and colors bleed into each other a bit. It’s not awful, but can be noticeable. The soundtrack is very good in the sense that it fits the the on-screen action, but isn’t very memorable. None of the songs in it will stick with you after watching. Kevin Conroy’s work as Batman probably will though, and the voice work as a whole is outstanding.
This Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack features no extras for the DVD – a common trend over the past couple of years, but has a handful of things for the Blu-Ray.
Beyond some DCAU episodes (including a Justice League two-parter), there are two mini-documentaries.
One covers the physics of time-traveling within the Flash universe and take a more scientific approach to things than one may be used to from an extra feature, while the other focuses on the Flash’s enemies, their motivations, backstories, and relationship with the Flash in his various incarnations.
The commentary track is fairly interesting and manages to strike a fine balance between being informative and entertaining with fun stories about the creation of the project and discussion about how hard it was to translate it from the page into an animated format.
The extras as a whole are nice, but the menus are incredibly simplistic and feel slapped-together. They’re functional, but look low-rate, and wouldn’t have even been impressive in the beginning of the DVD format, let alone now.
Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox is one of the better DCAU direct-to-video releases that Warner Bros. has put out. It tells a very compelling story that is just the right kind of predictable because you can tell where things go without being able to see every twist and turn coming.
It’s a visually striking release with an impressive soundtrack and some outstanding voiceover work as well.
If you’ve enjoyed past DCAU releases, you’ll enjoy this one as well.
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