11th May2021

‘Justice Society: World War II’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Features the voices of: Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Geoffrey Arend, Armen Taylor, Elysia Rotaru, Liam McIntyre, Omid Abtahi, Matthew Mercer, Keith Ferguson, Darin De Paul, Ashleigh LaThrop, Chris Diamantopoulos | Written by Meghan Fitzmartin, Jeremy Adams | Directed by Jeff Wamester

It has been said, VERY often, that Warner Bros’ animated DC movies are the highlight of the DC cinematic universe – often surpassing their live-action counterparts in terms of performance and story, with more animated hits than live-action misses. The long-running series of animated movies was recently rebooted, no longer needing to fit into the continuity of The New 52, under the “DC Universe Movies” banner… the latest of which is Justice Society: World War II.

The film finds modern-day Barry Allen – prior to the formation of the Justice League – discovering he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. The Flash is promptly launched into the midst of a raging battle – primarily between Nazis and a team of Golden Age DC Super Heroes known as The Justice Society of America. Led by Wonder Woman, the group includes Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The Flash quickly volunteers to assist his fellow heroes in tipping the scales of war in their favour, while the team tries to figure out how to win their battle AND send Barry Allen home.

Like the previous movies in this new continuity, the animation in Justice Society: World War II is once again more “comic book” style, with more vibrant use of colours, really helping shed the look of the previous dark and gloomy days of the old DC universe. This is animation that reflects a new style and new, more hopeful, series of animated movies. And like the first in this new series of movies, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, this is not only a story about the Justice Society, its an origin tale for what we now know as the Justice League – Barry Allen’s trip to the past giving him ideas about his future on his Earth.

Which also gives me hope that – like their predecessors – these new animated features are building slowly to some thing bigger. After all audiences have, since 2013, been party to a long line of DC animated films that were interconnected; creating their own animated cinematic universe. Here there are hints that is happening again, to a lesser degree. In fact Justice Society: World War II, rather than being a time travel film is actually a multiverse movie, introducing the concept of parallel Earths to the animated universe – which opens up HUGE possibilities for the future of DC’s animated movies… Stories can be told both in continuity and out of continuity. For example, the previous animated film, Batman: Soul of the Dragon, could take place on a parallel Earth rather than be a stand-alone film. The possibilities for crossovers between existing characters and their “Elseworld” counterparts is truly endless now!

In terms of extras, the Justice Society: World War II Blu-ray features the usual collection of film-related special features. Here there are two random featurettes focussing on 2016’s Justice League vs. Teen Titans and 2019’s Wonder Woman: Bloodlines; along with two episodes of the old Justice League cartoon, Legends: Part One and Two. There’s also a featurette on the production of the film entitled Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II; and a sneak peek at the NEXT animated movie from DC, Batman: The Long Halloween – Part One.

But the piece de resistance on this Blu-ray is the animated short that accompanies the main film. Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth which tells a story that sees the last civilized teenage boy on a post-apocalyptic Earth, Kamandi, along his friends Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Kingdom and humanoid mutant Ben Boxer kidnapped by a gorilla cult led by Golgan, who puts the trio through a series of deadly tests to find if any of them know the secret of… The Mighty One. Animated in the same style as the legendary Jack Kirby’s comic art, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth is probably the best thing Warner Bros./DC’s animated team have put out in a loooong time; in fact I’d go as far as saying the short is better than the movie it accompanies! I sincerely hope that the end of the short means that we’ll see more adventures for Kamandi – either more shorts or a feature film animated in the same style – in the future.

Another fantastic DC animated movie, Justice Society: World War II is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

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