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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox [Blu-ray]
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DCU: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (Blu-ray)
We all wish for the chance to go back in time and change the things, for The Flash, that coveted chance is within reach. He traverses time to right a violent, decades-past crime against his mother, but the ripples of his good intentions prove disastrous, as a fractured, alternate reality now exists in place of the familiar one. Stumbling through this twisted reality where even Superman is nowhere to be found, The Flash seeks the trusted wisdom of Batman, only to find a grittier, more violent Dark Knight in his place. Together with the help of Cyborg, they race to restore the continuity of Flash's original timeline while this new world is ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman's Amazons and the Atlanteans, led by a battle hardened Aquaman. With breath taking action and an all-star voice cast featuring Kevin Conroy, C. Thomas Howell and Dana Delany, it's a bold, emotional vision that will forever change the landscape of the DC Universe!]]>
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(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
We’ve all been there, wishing we could’ve done something differently. Which of us hasn’t wanted a chance to go back into the past if only to tweak some singular small event in order to offer us a greater chance at happiness in the present or the future? The loss of a loved one cuts deeply enough to leave a scar that’ll last a lifetime, and that’s what Barry Allen decides he wants to fix about his past: he wants to be there to stop his mother from dying at the hands of some cruel assailant. Because he’s The Flash – because he has the ability to maneuver in and out of the time stream – he decides to do just that … and, little did he know, he tears apart the very fabric of the DC Universe!
This is a brilliant tale, the kind of which didn’t used to exist when I started reading the monthlies back in the 1970’s. Why? Well, it’s necessarily dark, and it’s quite darker than most of the usual fare I’ve read in The Flash’s books. In part, that’s because the greater entity – DC Comics – wanted to use this tale as a dramatic springboard with which to reboot their entire catalogue of heroes, villains, and superheroes. In case you haven’t heard of it, DC rebooted its various worlds in 2012; while its may’ve been a source of new life for some books, I haven’t seen the rewards in others.
That story – FLASHPOINT – has now been adapted by the ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movie lines, and – so far as this critic is concerned – they’ve done it justice. All of the adult themes are there (mark my words: this is probably NOT one for the kids due to the heavy nature of violence and torture throughout), and, despite serving up the usual ‘slightly better than Saturday morning fare’ animation this one is draped in glorious somber tones and hues.
Still, there are some pieces of the overall story that don’t ‘mesh’ as well as they could, and I think that’s largely because this is essentially an 80-minute feature. The time needed to plot out all of this so that it made perfect sense to newcomers would probably be more like an animated miniseries – suffice it to say, there’s a world war going on, but it’s primarily being waged by fallen superheroes and the minions they command; and, despite it being front-and-center in the conclusion, it really gets short shrift in the first half. It gets introduced briskly with The Flash’s memories being changed so that he better understands this new universe he’s found himself a part of, and I think it could’ve been handled better than what we get here.
Time travel stories are pretty universal – even folks who don’t much care for sci-fi narratives tend to enjoy a good time-travel-yarn – so THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX is most definitely worth a view even by those who aren’t drawn to comic book properties. There’s enough in here that gives the story greater depth as well (i.e. Barry’s desire to see his mom alive again; Thomas Wayne’s desire to give his son a second chance at life; Wonder Woman’s wishes to be free of a marriage she doesn’t want, etc.), and I think that there’s probably something for everyone.
But – and I’m only harping on this because I think it’s a realistic observation – this is NOT for kids. It’s pretty grim. It’s a very dark tale. There’s an awful lot of violence, and it isn’t the usual comic-book-style; it’s graphic and at time disturbing … such as what happens to Barry Allen in this world when he tries to recreate the accident that made him who he was in the original world. It’s rated PG-13, and I think even that’s mildly questionable in a few instances. So consider yourself warned.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Everything about this JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX is superior, from the voice direction, the animation style, right down to the thematic elements. This is miles and miles better than practically anything else being done in the direct-to-DVD market, and it’s the kind of story that probably appeals to old and new fans of DC’s titles alike. I will say – and I stress this very emphatically – this is NOT a tale for children as some of the other DC flicks have been; the subject matter is necessarily dark and grim, and the level of corresponding violence is indeed quite high. For mature comic’s fans like myself, this is a home run.
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