Justice League Dark Movie Review: I Will Take You There, So You Are No Longer Here

Justice League Dark is an animated DC superhero film which holds the spot as the 28th film of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies (a series of direct-to-video films) and the 8th film in the DC Animated Movie Universe (a separate set of DC superhero movies focused on two story arcs, the first, untitled, from 2013 – 2020, and the second, the Tomorrowverse, from 2020 – 2024). Justice League Dark was directed by Jay Olivia, based on the Justice League Dark team created by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin, and with an R-rated script by Ernie Altbacker. It is one of a very few DC animated features that is not based on a previous comics arc.

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Olivia’s Justice League Dark opens with mayhem in the streets of both Gotham and Metropolis. Average people are having horrific hallucinations in which they see their fellow humans as living, breathing demons rampaging the streets. There is chaos everywhere, with people thinking they are saving the world by crashing their cars into “demons,” using guns to blow them away, and a series of violent suburban murders that have left the Justice League, Batman (Jason O’Mara), Superman (Jerry O’Connell), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), and Green Lantern (Roger Cross), confused about how to handle a situation that has the unmistakable hands of magic all over it.

Batman, always skeptical about magic, is surprised to arrive at his manor to find messages telling him to contact Constantine (Matt Ryan). It turns out that several days ago, Constantine and Jason Blood / Etrigan the Demon (Ray Chase) were in a high-stakes poker game with the Demons Three. Constantine bets his home, the House of Mystery, and the Demons Three offer a box of magical trinkets that includes a broken piece of Dreamstone. When everyone is caught cheating, Constantine forces Jason Blood to become Etrigan the Demon and solve the problem with physical violence. Constantine and Blood leave with all their “winnings.”

Batman seeks out Zatanna Zatara (Camilla Luddington) to help him find Constantine, and they are soon joined by Deadman (Nicholas Turturro). Together, they find the House of Mystery and Constantine agrees to help Batman. From here on out, Constantine leads the Justice League Dark, with Zatanna, Deadman, Jason Blood / Etrigan the Demon, Black Orchid (Colleen Villard), and Batman sullenly taking the rear, annoyed that magic appears to exist.

From the beginning to the end, Justice League Dark is an exciting, over-the-top, cosmic romp with the magic side of the Justice League. There is great humor throughout, and several flashbacks help to fill in the backstory without taking away from the present action. In no way does this animated feature deserve an R-rating, and is suitable even for young teens. Highly recommended for DC fans of all stripes.

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Greg Hammond

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