The Infallible Fish Reviews: Justice Society: World War II

We live in a society…a justice society.

What’s the Story?

Barry Allen, aka the Flash, is just trying to have a nice, normal picnic with his girlfriend in Metropolis, of course he’s a superhero and that doesn’t last long. One minute he’s teaming up with Superman and fighting Brainiac, the next he’s in World War 2, punching Nazis alongside heroes he’s never heard of. Those heroes would be Wonder Woman, the Flash (Jay Garrick), Hawkman, Black Canary and Hourman, the Justice Society of America, a secret team of super-powered beings sent by the US to combat the Nazis menace in Europe. Their current mission is to find someone who can decode a secret message that will tell them Hitler’s next big plan, while Barry tries to work out how he’s going to get home. Not everything is as it seems though and the Justice Society are in for a lot more than they bargained for. This is war after all and not everyone is going to make it out alive.

The Review:

And we’re back to the DC Universe animated movies! It feels like it’s been an age since I reviewed one of these films, even though I looked at Wonder Woman Bloodlines just last year (you can check out the review HERE). Part of that is down to my general lack of enthusiasm for these films lately. While I’ve enjoyed the majority of the ones I’ve seen, I have to admit that barring a few stand outs (like Death of Superman and Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), none of them really hold a candle to DC’s early output of animated films. That might just be changing though. The DC Universe animated movies have undergone a bit of a revamp, there’s a new animation style, a reboot of the universe and, going by this one, a level of care and attention that’s been missing from these films for a while now. Justice Society: World War II isn’t a film that’s going to change the world, and clearly someone was watching the first live action Wonder Woman movie before penning the script, but it’s a great, fun romp that shows a lot of promise for the future.

Before we get to that though, first let’s talk about that new animation style. I have to admit that when I first saw the trailers for this film it took me a while to get used to the new look. I’ve never watched Archer, but that’s exactly what this style reminds me of, the strong outlines combined with the characters designs really give this film a unique look (not counting the previous Superman movie which also uses this style, but I haven’t watched that film, yet). The film looks good throughout, though when it comes to the action sequences that ramps up to spectacular. The action, of which there is a lot, is fast, fluid and full of impact, leading to one heart-pumping sequence after another, especially towards the end of the movie when all the stops get pulled out. Black Canary gets some particularly gorgeous sequences showing off her powers.

Speaking of the characters, let’s talk about them. Part of what surprised me most about this film being released is that there’s some obscure heroes in this roster. The Justice Society isn’t a superhero team that’s made it’s way into popular consciousness yet, despite getting a couple of appearances on TV (They had a two-parter in Smallville and are a big part of the current Stargirl show). I mean, yeah, there’s Wonder Woman, Flash and Superman to draw people in, but, be honest, how many of you have actually heard of Hourman before?

The film does a good job of introducing all of its characters and giving them a few moments in the spotlight, even if it never goes that in depth with any of them. You might not understand the whole of Hawkman’s deal, but through the writing and the terrific voice acting you’ll get a sense of his personality and what he’s like. Which is all you need for this one film. It’s the little quiet moments I love the most, whether it’s Jay and Hourman acknowledging the fact that it’s usually them that has something go wrong with their powers, or Black Canary worrying about how our Flash (Barry) has no idea who they are when he’s meant to be from the future. It humanises all the characters and that makes me care when they dive into the next action sequence.

As for the story, it’s a fun action romp as I said. Most of it is an excuse to get to the next action sequence and, as I mentioned before, there’s a lot of parallels to the first live action Wonder Woman movie. Maybe it’s just me, but seeing Wonder Woman in a World War, jumping around a village while fighting German soldiers, some plot specific things later on and the fact that Stana Katic is clearly doing a Gal Gadot impression, it just rings a lot of bells for me. Putting that to one side though, there’s a lot of fun elements to this film and a fair few surprise appearances by characters I was not expecting to see (Fair warning, if you buy the physical DVD or Blu ray, don’t look at the back cover as that will give one of the surprises away).

There’s also a twist I didn’t see coming and, while I don’t think it was strictly necessary, it’s a fun wrinkle in the adventure. The last thing I’ll say is that, while this is a standalone film and you can easily watch it independent of anything else, there’s also a real sense of laying the groundwork for something here. I mean outside of planting the idea in Barry’s head about some sort of Justice Club for Superheroes, there’s a few plot points that could, and I think will, come back in a later films. It’s got me excited about these films again and if they want to take the approach of standalone films that gradually build towards something than I am all for it!

The Verdict:

In the end, Justice Society: World War II, is a great deal of fun. It’s not going to the change the world or break any moulds, but it’s an exhilarating thrill ride, with a fair number of surprising twists and spotlighting a few characters that could really use it. Plus you get to see Wonder Woman and the Flash punching Nazis and who doesn’t love stuff like that? There is a lot of action in this film, all of it great, but the film also takes the time to give us quieter moments between the characters to humanise them and let us get to know them. This could really be the start of something wonderful and I am all for it. If you haven’t checked this out then make sure you do!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

8 comments

  1. ospreyshire · June 19

    That’s cool how the Justice Society has gotten a movie even if it involves the older incarnations. Yes, I’ve heard of Hourman before even if it was through HeroClix back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • neverarguewithafish · June 19

      I’ll be honest I didn’t even know his name until a few years back. I’d seen him in comic panels, but I haven’t read much Justice Society stuff outside of stories where they made a cameo appearance. Hourman does seem to be getting his fifteen minutes of late, appearing in his and he’s one of the side characters in the current Stargirl show.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · June 19

        That’s okay. It’s cool you got exposed to that superhero though. I haven’t seen Stargirl. Is that a good show?

        Liked by 1 person

      • neverarguewithafish · June 20

        I’d say it’s decent show. I like the cast and there’s some good ideas and fun sequences throughout, but I’m kinda worn out with the CW superhero shows.

        I keep seeing the same problems cropping up over and over again, they’re too formulaic, the casts are too big so they lose focus and a lot of the shows feel like they’ve run out of ideas. I enjoyed a lot of the early seasons, but I’ve stopped watching the majority of the shows.

        Stargirl at least feels like it has a direction, but I don’t know how long that will last. I’d say check it out, but don’t expect it to blow you away.

        Personally, as far as DC shows go, Doom Patrol is the one that I’d recommend. The first season is wild, imaginative and just brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · June 20

        Gotcha. I’m just dealing with superhero fatigue and it seems like the CW DC stuff has been getting too much.

        I see. It can be rough to keep track of a lot of those shows and characters.

        That’s good. I didn’t think a character like that would get her own show. Would I need to see the other CW shows to understand what’s going on?

        I’ve heard good things about the Doom Patrol show. I guess after mentioning Elasti-girl/Elasti-Woman and the parallels with Incredibles!Elastigirl in my Top 7 list about ripoff characters, I feel like I would have to at some point. I also heard the comics have been great even if they get really weird like the Vertigo series.

        Liked by 1 person

      • neverarguewithafish · June 21

        Stargirl is pretty much it’s own show. I don’t know if that’s going to change in season 2, but in season 1 it’s just concerned with its own characters and lore so you can jump straight in.

        The Doom Patrol comics are on my ‘To Read’ list. That being said the show gets plenty weird itself and that’s part of the reason I love it so much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · June 21

        I see. That’s good if it’s self-contained.

        Nice! Doom Patrol has always been such a weird thing with a lot of the comics, so it’s not surprising with the show.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Infallible Fish Reviews: Batman: The Long Halloween Part One | Never Argue with a Fish

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