Saturday, August 01, 2015

Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Directed by: Sam Liu

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

The first thing I saw, with regards this straight to DVD release, was a webisode where Batman (Michael C. Hall) was tracking down Harlequin (Tara Strong). It made me immediately excited about the feature that was due. Harley was truly psychotic and dangerous, with severed heads in a fridge and mannequins made out of victims. Then there was the reveal… Batman was a vampire and not exactly morally squeaky clean.

the League
He was also not Bruce Wayne. This is essentially an Elseworlds story and set in an alternate dimension. The league consists of Batman, Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) and Superman (Benjamin Bratt) but not as we know them. This league will kill, we see them in a raid at the head of the film and they do not hold back from killing (Batman even feeds during the fight) and they are not the same identities as the normal DC Universe.

general Zod
Superman’s alternate identity is Hernan Guerra and he is the son of General Zod. When he reached Earth he was found and raised by Mexican migrant farmers. Wonder Woman is Bekka, a New God who is an escapee from her own dimension following the betrayal and murder of Darkseid. Finally Batman is Dr. Kirk Langstrom, who in the normal DC Universe is Manbat. One of the issues I had with the film was the fact that I felt their backgrounds were patchy at best.

As Luther (Jason Isaacs), who is a good guy in this, has doubts about Superman due to absolute power corrupting and a nature vs nurture argument we needed to see and hear more about his background. Wonder Woman’s background was shown, as in the Darkseid incident, but the subsequent flight to Earth and how she ended up in the League isn't really touched on. We did actually get more about Batman’s origin than any other character. We hear in passing how he and Superman met but more importantly we discover how he was transformed.

Langstrom was a brilliant scientist who was at University and was also searching for a cancer cure using bats as a source for his serum. The serum wasn’t stable but he used the research into nanite technology by his friend Magnus (C. Thomas Howell, Kindred the Embraced, Blood Wars & Mutant Vampire Zombies from the ‘Hood!) to stabilise the serum and then he took it himself – as he was dying of cancer. The serum, of course, turned him into a vampire. This was a nice background (similar to Manbat’s standard background) and yet one couldn’t help but also think of Marvel and their Morbius character.

The story centres around a plot to frame the Justice League (by using robots, which could leave evidence at murder scenes that seemed to come from them) in order to execute a more dastardly plan, and the general action and story was engaging. What I didn’t like – and this is a spoiler heavy observation – was the idea that it all built towards their redemption and morphing them into heroes rather than dangerous vigilantes in an uneasy alliance with the US Government. I really liked the greyness of the morality and thus it felt like a bit of a story wimp out. I do recognise, however, that the direction was pretty much the point.

I think this deserves 6.5 out of 10 but I would have liked to have seen a more expanded background especially around Superman and a darker ending.

The imdb page is here.

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