Based on the hit comic mini-series a ripple in time caused by The Flash creates an alternative future with dire consequences.
Directed by Jay Oliva
Written by James Krieg
Based on story by Geoff Johns and Illustrated by Andy Kubert
Beware of spoilers!
‘Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox’ is the next in the line of DC animated movies to be released directly to home video. The last being ‘Superman: Unbound’ released earlier in 2013.
The film boasts an all star cast from the DCAU including Kevin Conroy (BTAS); Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern: Emerald Knights), Grey DeLisle (Beware the Batman) and Dana Delany (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm). Sadly absent here is Tim Daly as Superman although he is appropriately replaced by his son Sam Daly.
I have to admit that at this stage I have not read the Flashpoint comics that this film is based upon… I know… I should be ashamed. They are currently winging their way to me as we speak so that I can properly check out the source material. That being said I want to review this as a film without said source material informing my impressions.
Let’s start by saying: this film is brilliant! The voice casting is absolutely perfect as any DCAU fan would come to expect from Andrea Romano. The DCAU would not have the reputation it has today if it wasn’t for the years of hard graft that she has put in to cultivating returning actors to these various roles.
As a fan of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ it took me a little whilst to settling in to hearing Justin Chambers play The Flash/Barry Allen yet surprisingly I instantly took to Kevin McKidd as Alternate Batman/Thomas Wayne. Chambers is new to the DCAU but given time to settle in he fits in perfectly with the crowd and carries the film with ease.
It’s always a great moment when Batman first appears and the voice of Kevin Conroy echoes from your speakers; he only has a short amount of dialogue in this film but as always he makes it count and his few short scenes are standouts around the alternative timeline.
Aside from Chambers most of the film is carried by McKidd who plays an admirable Thomas Wayne with enough conviction that come the end of the film I could have shed a tear much like Bruce. There is also a huge amount of dialogue for Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) as Cyborg. Another newcomer to the DCAU – possibly soon to be entering the Marvel universe if rumours are to be believed – he plays the alternate timeline Cyborg with a balance youthful naivety and dedication to duty that makes his character a standout in this piece.
I can’t comment on the state of the adaptation from the source material but as a stand alone story Flashpoint is a brilliant ‘what-if’ piece about the consequences of altering time. There an emotional gravity to this film which can sometimes be lacking in these types of DTV releases and right from the beginning I couldn’t help but feel a strong connection Barry Allen.
As a life-long fan of Batman I felt the most connection to the story of Thomas Wayne which also touches on some of the story aspects which are from the ‘Batman: Knight of Vengeance’ mini-series. It’s a tragic story and such an original spin on the idea of Batman that I can’t believe it hasn’t been written about much more frequently.
There are a huge amount of secondary characters and cameo appearances in this film to the point where it would be impossible to mention them all but most are carefully crafted to appear true to their comic origins and each is given then own, sometimes brief, moments to shine on screen. If this were a live-action film there would be no way to manage all these characters in a satisfactory manner.
The animation is top-notch as with all the predecessors in this DTV series. The animators go a long way to separating out the two universes using subtle changes in characters costumes; differences in architecture etc… and after only one watch there are probably huge amounts of differences I’ve yet to pick up on.
The scenes are beautifully framed and the action sequences are choreographed perfectly to fit the 2D medium. There is never any confusion as to what is taking place in a scene and at no point did I find myself frantically scanning the frame to take in all the details which can be a hazard with some film whether they are animated or not.
If you are a newcomer to the DTV DC world then this would be a brilliant yet sombre jumping off point for you and I cannot recommend this film enough.