Justice League Dark – Review (***)

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Though the fanboy-pleasing quality to this animated adaptation of the cult superhero supergroup is undeniable, fans will probably be left simply whelmed by its merely acceptable approach to bringing these beloved characters to the big screen.

When local citizens begin experiencing grotesque visions and committing violent acts, Batman (Jason O’Mara) must team up with some supernatural cohorts, namely John Constantine (Matt Ryan), Zatanna (Camilla Luddington) and Deadman (Nicholas Turturro), to help bring the city back under control.

Justice League Dark certainly lives up to its title, opening with an unpleasant prelude which damn-near justifies that R-rating in of itself. Where the film stumbles, however, is with its unsurprising decision to force Batman to the forefront of proceedings simply to make the film more accessible to a wider audience. Presumably this and the fairly lackluster animation quality were compromises made to retain the adult content.

Even with these disappointments, though, the charm of the group manages to shine through, largely thanks to Ryan, who of course also played Constantine in NBC’s doomed live-action series, and delivers a note-perfect rendition of the character’s cocksure charm here. The chemistry between the central group is the main reason the movie works, even when Batman’s threatening to hog the screen and the film struggles to arrive at a compelling villain, especially as it cycles through several red herrings before finally settling on one.

Fans of Warner Bros’ DC animation division may still be feeling sore and burned after this past summer’s The Killing Joke adaptation went so horribly wrong, but to that end this is a far more sturdy and less-offensive treatment of its source in terms of realising its themes and characters.

Justice League Dark is far from great and only barely scrapes those three stars overall due to the clear commercial concessions made, but it’s not sacrilegious either, and will probably entertain more than it frustrates.

***

Justice League Dark is available on VOD now

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