Justice Society: World War II is a superb superhero movie thanks to the screenplay by Meghan Fitzmartin and Jeremy Adams. It mashes together more genres than the title implies and handles each one well. The movie also delivers fun surprises, so the less known going in the better.
With Hitler and the Nazis on the move in Europe searching for magical artifacts (like the Ark of the Covenant), FDR is introduced to a team of heroes. Led by Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), Hourman (Matthew Mercer), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru), Jay Garrick/The Flash (Armen Taylor), and Hawkman (Omid Abtahi) comprise the Justice Society of America. The group fights alongside the Allies, including love-struck Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos), in war-torn Europe.
In modern-day Metropolis, Barry Allen/The Flash (Matt Bomer) helps Superman (Darren Criss) in a battle against Brainiac (Darin De Paul) It’s early in the heroes’ friendship and there’s no Justice League. During the fight, Doctor Fate draws the Flash back in time where he encounters the J.S.A.. They try to limit his actions because they don’t want him to cause a paradox, but hasn’t he already by being there? As the story progresses, its scope expands. After fighting on land in Europe, our heroes must protect America from sea and air attacks.
The handling of the characters is why the movie succeeds. Rather than his frequent use as comic relief in recent outings, the modern-day Flash is a thoughtful scientist. He is dating Iris West, but fears taking their relationship further because he doesn’t want to put her in danger. Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor are dealing with a similar dynamic. Katic gives Wonder Woman an accent. While it’s startling at first, the choice works well and is surprising no one has done this before because it sounds like she’s from the region of the world Paradise Island is located. A war correspondent called “Shakespeare” appears briefly. His character is interesting as he unlocks a mystery for Allen and the audience. Another fun surprise is discovering who is working with the Nazis.
The video comes with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The strong hues allow the colors to pop. This contributes to the quality of the image contrast, especially when the costumed heroes are seen against backgrounds of dark shades. Characters are drawn with thick lines, creating a sense of depth. Some objects lose focus to convey movement and speed. Banding occurs, an example occurs when Wonder Woman throws a tank at the Nazis.
The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue is clear and positioned in the front channels. Action scenes find the surrounds and subwoofer put to use to as the effects augment the scenes. Kevin Riepl’s score comes thorough the speakers with good fidelity as it matches the mood. All elements are balanced well together in the sound mix.
The Special Features, all in HD, are:
- DC Showcase Short: Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! (18 min) – In a post apocalyptic world, a human boy interacts with talking animals. Based on a comic created by Jack Kirby, the story is very good. I hope it leads to a series.
- Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II (30 min) – A roundtable chat about the making of the movie.
- Sneak Peak: Batman:The Long Halloween, Part One (10 min) – A look at the next DC animated movie.
- Previews Justice League vs. Teen Titans (11 min); Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (10 min).
- From the DC Vault: Justice League: “Legends” (part 1 & 2) two episodes from the animated series. The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter transport into a parallel universe and encounter comic book characters: the Justice Guild of America comprised of Catman, Black Siren Green Guardsman, Tom Turbine and the Streak.
The Justice Society: World War II home video release comes highly recommended because both the main feature and the Kamandi short are marvelous. (Is that adjective allowed when talking about DC Comics?) It’s great that DC shines a spotlight on other characters aside from the Big Two, especially when the stories are so well done. The makers have me wanting to return to both worlds. The Blu-ray delivers a pleasing high-def experience.