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Justice League: The Flashpoint
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/30/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/6/2013
As with so many kids my age, I watched Superfriends when I was a kid. (I didn't learn until years later that this was a watered-down version of Justice League of America stories.) When it came to comic books, I was almost exclusively a Marvel person, but I did enjoy these adventures of DC characters. And while I liked the main group, I really liked the episodes where The Flash made an appearance, and I never understood why he wasn't used more. Even in the modern Justice League movies, such asDoom or Crisis on Two Earths, The Flash is present, but he rarely has a big part of play. Therefore, it's about time that the fast superhero got his own movie and this arrives in the form of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
As Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox opens, The Flash (voiced by Justin Chambers), along with the rest of the Justice League, defeat a group of super villains who has broken into The Flash Museum. (There's a Flash museum?) One of these villains is Thawne (voiced by C. Thomas Howell), who si also known as Professor Zoom or Reverse Flash. Barry Allen -- The Flash's alter ego -- suddenly awakens to find that he's fallen asleep at his desk in police headquarters. And while his office looks the same, he finds that he is in a different world. For starters, his long-departed mother, Nora (voiced by Grey DeLisle), is alive. Secondly, the city looks very different. The worst part is that Barry doesn't have his Flash powers. He learns that Aquaman (voiced by Cary Elwes) and Wonder Woman (voiced by Vanessa Marshall) are at war and their battle is threatening to destroy the planet. Barry desperately searches for the other super heroes and finds that Batman (voiced by Kevin McKidd) is not Bruce Wayne and that Cyborg (voiced by Michael B. Jordan) works for the government. Oh, and that there is no Superman. Mustering a "never say die" attitude which flies in the face of this apathetic new world, Barry decides that he must get his powers back, he will help save the world, and, most importantly, he must discover how he ended up in this strange place.
While it wears the garb of several genres (super hero, action, etc.), at its heart, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a time-travel movie combined with a dystopian future piece, and it certainly contains the pitfalls of those kinds of stories. We are told that the story is related to time-travel, and yet, it is much more reminiscent of the kind parallel universe stories which are abundant in comics. (And it's very easy to make that jump here, as DC is famous for it's "Infinite Earths" books.) We learn that Thawne is behind Allen's displacement, but the details on how he did this are fuzzy, especially during the finale. The Batman and Superman elements of the story are very interesting, and we are given a great deal of detail on Batman's background, but the whole Wonder Woman/Aquaman war is given a Shakespearian glossing-over and we are simply asked to accept the fact that these two titans are at war and that their battle would threaten the entire planet.
Having said that, there are definitely some clever ideas here. Again, Batman's storyline is well done. Over the years, we've seen several different incarnations of the famous character and various artists have put their stamp on the Caped Crusader, but the twist here is certainly unique and it gives us a Batman with a different set of skills. The fact that Allen doesn't have his super-speed obviously creates a conundrum for him and his solution to this problem pushes the mature rating of the movie. I've never been shy about the fact that I'm not a huge fan of Superman, but I really liked how the character was used here. The movie also contains some nice cameos, and it isn't afraid to kill off some well-known characters, because, hey, anything can happen in an alternate reality.
Again, it's great to see The Flash getting his due and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a fine platform for him. The story, despite some vague areas and plotholes, is very interesting, and shows real creativity with its portrayal of familiar characters. The animation is good, but it veered too far into anime territory for my taste, and, let's just say it, Aquaman is really weird looking here. Nitpicking aside, DC and Warner continue to do a great job of adapting comic book stories into movies and I can't wait to see what they will tackle next.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox reminds us that The Flash has an...interesting?...array of super villains on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 18 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The image is nicely detailed, but this doesn't reveal any issues with the animation and the depth is pleasing. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is yet another animated film track which reminds us that all of these sounds had to be created and someone did a fantastic job with it. The action scenes, most notably the explosions, sound great, as they fill the rear channels and trigger the subwoofer to join in. The stereo effects are nicely done and highlight sounds coming from the left or right of the screen. The track shows good separation from left to right and front to back.
The Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Producer James Tucker, Director Jay Oliva, Writer James Krieg, and Author Geoff Johns. "A Flash in Time: Time Travel in the Flash Universe" (22 minutes) takes a scientific look at the notion of time and the concept of time travel, complete with comments from scientists. This leads to a discussion of how notions of time travel are used in stories with The Flash and what his powers can achieve. "My Favorite Villain: The Flash Bad Guys" (19 minutes) gives an overview of the villains from The Flash comics, complete with various panels form the comics. We get a "Digital Comics Excerpt" from the Flashpoint comic. Finally, there are four bonus TV episodes from shows which feature The Flash -- one from The Brave and the Bold, one from Justice League, and two from Justice League Unlimited.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.