Justice League Flashpoint Paradox Review

DC has no shortage of stories set in an alternate universe, with most of the play going to Infinite CrisisCrisis on Infinite Earths, and other Elseworld stories. So when Geoff Johns came out with the Flashpoint arc in 2011, fans were initially skeptical. Not only was Johns trying to reconstruct the DC comic lore, but he was doing it with Flash at the helm. While Barry Allen has been a staple character in the Justice League since his mid-1950’s induction into DC Comics, he remains out of the spotlight. The premise of the Flashpoint storyline is that, in a desperate move to change events in time to save his mother from being murdered, he taps into the Speed Force (it’s a long story; basically, the best way I can describe the Speed Force is an energy that the Flash can pull from to manipulate time… or some crazy shit like that), unknowingly creating a Butterfly Effect, saving his mother but putting himself right in the middle of a world war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Flash has found himself in a world without allies and without his powers. It’s a bit far-fetched of a story, but it really works out. So many questions about the DC Universe that begin with “What if” are addressed in the Flashpoint Paradox. What if Hal Jordan never was given a Green Lantern ring? What if Superman’s Kryptonian shuttle passed Smallville and landed in the hands of the government? What if Aquaman and Wonder Woman never got to interact with humanity before their rise to power? Maybe it’s just the fanboy in me, but there’s just something thrilling about not knowing what will happen next – an entire realm of new possible outcomes.

Everything that makes the book work shows up in the film. Foremost, the Flash is an excellent leading character. He’s charismatic, witty and is the one voice of hope in a universe full of darkness. Plus, he can run really fast. But really, it’s Flashpoint Batman that steals the show. Batman (who is not Bruce Wayne in this world) is one of the most rugged and dangerous characters I’ve ever seen. He’s missing the high-tech gadgetry, but he more than makes up for it by being a total badass. Even the President respects his gangster. The rest of the Justice League is also in full effect. Flashpoint Aquaman and Wonder Woman could easily hold their own movie. As the two juggernauts clashed, I almost forgot I was watching a DC Animated movie. Professor Zoom AKA The Reverse Flash AKA… (this could take a while; he has a lot of nicknames) … AKA Thaddeus Thawne plays a crafty villain that is obsessed with bringing down the Flash, even at the expense of destroying the world (Sheesh dude, get a hobby). He presents the perfect match for Flash, as he can manipulate the Speed Force to make it appear that he is going faster or slower. He’s the yin to Flash’s yang and they play off each other well.

I bet the first time The Flash and The Reverse Flash met, it was just like this.

I bet the first time The Flash and The Reverse Flash met, it was just like this.

The biggest note of discussion with this film is the decidedly adult nature it takes on. Not only is it darker than the comics it adapts from, but it is the darkest DC Animated film released yet. There are tons of violent deaths, and nobody is off-limits. It’s like I was watching The Wire. While some might see this as unnecessary, I feel that the violence and tragedy add to the gravity of the film. It’s not for the faint of heart, and definitely not a family-friendly movie, but the anime-style brutality made me feel more in touch with the characters and the stakes they were fighting for. The animation is complemented by nuanced changes in the storyline to make things fit more cohesively. Die-hard fans can tell, but there are several events that allude to several of the spin-off stories that come from Flashpoint, chronicling the stories of the Justice League in this alternate timeline from hell. On the other hand, though, some of the subtleties may fall off the deaf ears of many of the casual fans that look to these movies to learn more about comic books.

Overall, this is one of my favorite graphic novel movie adaptations that DC Animated has done. It has a solid storyline and a great voice acting cast to carry it throughout the amazing action scenes and large-scale thrills. Its mature content and subtle hints may turn off some casual fans, but do pay homage to the grave nature of the source material. If you want to broaden your horizons in the comic book world and aren’t afraid of graphic violence, this is the DC Animated film you have been waiting for.

 
SCORECARD:
Category Explanation Score
Plot One of the best alternate universe stories I’ve ever read, there are a few points in the film you can’t really understand unless you’ve read the source material. 8/10
Voice-acting An All-Star cast creates believable characters that carry themselves. 10/10
Representation of Source Material Flashpoint does a solid job of taking the source material and bringing it to life, keeping some of the most memorable moments intact. 10/10
Animation The hardcore and anime-like feel of the film fit the dark storyline. They also do a great job of making the Flash’s animations clean. 8/10
Sound Effects and Music Hero-certified music and cool time-warping sound effects fit the ambiance 8/10
Captivity Flashpoint is broken up into enough segments that it never feels like it’s as far along as it really is. 10/10
Overall awesomeness There is nothing about this film that does not kick total ass. 10/10
Creativity Even though it’s a remake of a graphic novel, the genius that is Geoff Johns crafted an amazing story that explores an alternate universe with no reservations. 10/10
Replayability I’ve seen the Flashpoint Paradox three times already, and there are more details to catch everytime 9/10
Special Features A feature on the Rogues Gallery, a scientific breakdown of the Speedforce and some great DC Vault episodes make this an excellent showcase of The Flash 10/10
 
 
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IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK THESE OUT:
Justice League: Doom (film)
 
All the Flashpoint books!
 
NEXT FOR DC ANIMATED:
Justice League: War will be DC Animated’s first New 52 movie and will reprise the first storyline of Jim Lee and Geoff John’s Justice League. All that I have on my wish list is that it’s animated by Jim Lee (I’m kind of obsessed with his art) and that I get to see the animated version of this. It’s already been released that Whedon alum Alan Tudyk is voicing Superman and DC Animated veteran Jay Oliva will be directing. Check out the teaser trailer at the link below.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

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