Justin Chambers, C. Thomas Howell, Michael B. Jordan, Kevin McKidd, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Kevin Conroy, Sam Daly, Dana Delany, Cary Elwes
Geoff Johns (original story), James Krieg, Andy Kubert (illustration)
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!
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 81 min.
Release Date: 7/30/2013
• Audio Commentary with Director Jay Oliva, Screenwriter Jim Krieg, Writer Geoff Johns and Producer James Tucker
• “A Flash in Time: Time Travel in the Flash Universe” Featurette
&bull: “My Favorite Villain! The Flash Bad Guys” Featurette
• Four Animated TV Episodes
• Digital Comics Excerpt
• DVD Copy
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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox [Blu-Ray] (2013)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 19, 2013)
For the latest DC Comics direct-to-video animated film, we get 2013’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. As a boy, Barry Allen loses his mother Nora (voiced by Grey DeLisle Griffin) when criminals break into their home and kill her. As an adult, Barry (Justin Chambers) continues to hold himself partly responsible, as he believes he could’ve saved his mom if he’d just run home a bit faster.
Of course, speed becomes a big topic in Barry’s life, as turns into the Flash, a superhero with amazing quickness. Lead by Professor Zoom (C. Thomas Howell), a bunch of his archenemies break into the Flash Museum and start a fight with him. They stop Flash and plan to blow up the Museum – and massive portions of Central City – but Flash’s Justice League pals save the day.
Or do they? Even though the JLA deals with the bombs and captures Zoom, the villain promises to hurt him where he remains most vulnerable. Flash dismisses these comments as the rants of a psychopath, but he soon learns otherwise.
While at work, Barry discovers a world turned topsy-turvy – to him, at least. Somehow he winds up in an alternate timeline where the Flash doesn’t exist, Nora remains alive, and the planet stands on the verge of apocalypse due to a battle between Aquaman’s (Cary Elwes) Atlantis and Wonder Woman’s (Vanessa Marshall) Amazon. Plenty of other changes exist as well, so it’s up to Barry to team with the JLA and restore the universe to its normal path.
Superhero comics love alternate existences. Indeed, DC made them part of their basic fabric, as they set up different earths to explain for the variations between “Golden Age” and “Silver Age” versions of the same characters. For instance, Jay Garrick was the original 1940s Flash, while Barry Allen didn’t come along until the series “reboot” in 1956.
Paradox doesn’t go for anything that would be part of the DC universe’s “canon”, as it posits a change that gets reversed by the movie’s finale. Sorry if that sounds like a spoiler, but I don’t think I’ve revealed anything surprising when I say the world doesn’t actually come to an end.
Besides, the fun found in stories like this revolves around how the characters “fix” events, not whether they get corrected. For the most part, that side of things works well, as Paradox gets to have its cake and eat it, too. Its format allows for massive alterations to the standard DC universe and characters, but it doesn’t need to sweat long-term ramifications because it’ll revert to Square One by its end.
Too much of that framework can get tiresome, but Paradox uses the set-up in a positive way – mostly. I admit that the story gets confusing and a bit tedious in the middle. While its first and third acts work quite well, the second segment plods a little too much. We’re stuck with too many less important roles and not enough of our primary heroes, so the movie threatens to lose its way.
Happily, Act Three follows up on the promise of Act One to deliver a satisfying finale. Indeed, Paradox becomes unusually impactful as it goes, mainly via the way it pursues the themes of loss; these connect to Flash and Batman and the film uses them to create real emotion. Even given the tale’s indulgence in alternate realities, it manages a strong character thrust.
It’s also more violent than one expects from fare of this sort. Paradox comes with a “PG-13” rating, and I think that was a gift; if this’d been live-action, it almost certainly would’ve earned an “R”. While I wouldn’t call the movie excessively graphic, it does seem more brutal than I would anticipate. Some of this seems gratuitous, but the violence usually helps convey the stakes with which the characters deal, so it doesn’t much bother me.
Despite an occasionally messy narrative and some of the pitfalls that come with alternate reality tales, I think Paradox succeeds much more than it falters. The movie mixes clever character variations with impressive action and an emotional finale to become one of the better DC Comics animated films.
The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, the image looked positive.
Only a smidgen of softness appeared, and that was result of the inexpensive source animation. Overall accuracy varied from very good to excellent, with an emphasis on the latter. No issues with shimmering or jaggies materialized, and I saw no edge haloes or noise reduction. Of course, I found no print flaws here.
While most DC adventures opt for natural colors, Paradox went with a more stylized look. It tended toward low-key tones and favored a fairly teal appearance much of the time. The colors seemed fine, as they represented their intended schemes. Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows looked smooth and clear. This wasn’t a great image but it was very good.
When I examined the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Paradox, it created a fine sense of action. The movie packed a lot of battles and involving material, and it used the five channels to impart that information in a lively manner. Explosions and fights filled the channels to create a full spectrum, and quieter elements – like often-present rain – fleshed out the room as well.
Across the board, the material sounded good. Speech remained distinctive and concise, without edginess, and music seemed vivid and full. Effects appeared accurate and tight, with clear highs and some powerful lows. All in all, the mix worked nicely.
As we shift to the set’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Jay Oliva, screenwriter Jim Krieg, writer Geoff Johns and producer James Tucker. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the original comic and its adaptation, story/character areas, cast and performances, music, art, design and animation, and a few other topics.
For the most part, the commentary gives us a good look at the project. It suffers from too many interjections of the “that looks cool” variety, but it still delivers a reasonable amount of information. That makes it worth a listen.
Two featurettes follow. A Flash in Time: Time Travel in the Flash Universe goes for 22 minutes, 24 seconds and offers notes from Johns, Krieg, Oliva, The Hero’s Journey author Phil Cousineau, UCLA Professor of Theoretical Physics Dr. Zvi Bern, co-producer Alan Burnett, and co-writer Brian Buccelatto. The show looks at various scientific theories related to time and their use in comics, with an emphasis on the Flash, of course. We find a good mix of science and fiction in this entertaining and informative program.
During the 18-minute, 58-second My Favorite Villain! The Flash Bad Guys, we hear from Cousineau, Johns, Burnett, Buccelato, and Krieg. As expected, this piece tells us about the Flash’s Rogues Gallery. It’s a good primer and probably would be useful to view before you screen Flashpoint if you don’t already know the characters.
Under From the DC Comics Vault, we find four animated TV episodes. These include “Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster” (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, 22:45), “Flash and Substance” (Justice League, 23:00), “Legends, Part 1” (Justice League Unlimited, 21:57) and “Legends, Part 2” (Justice League Unlimited, 21:46).
In “Requiem”, the Flash apparently dies – but the truth tells otherwise, so Batman helps “Golden Age Flash” and Kid Flash rescue him. It’s kind of goofy – which appears to be the tone of Brave and the Bold - but it’s entertaining. With “Substance”, Flash’s foes get really tired of always losing to him, so they team up to try to off him once and for all. It also comes with a nice sense of humor and works well.
Finally, “Legends” sends members of the JLA to an alternate earth where they encounter the 1950s heroes the Justice Guild. I’m not sure it can sustain its plot for two full episodes, but it still succeeds most of the time and becomes another enjoyable story.
We also locate a Digital Comics Excerpt. This gives us a glimpse of the first few pages of the Flashpoint graphic novel. I’m not a fan of these “excerpts”, as they’re just teasers to tempt you to buy the item.
The disc opens with ads for Man of Steel and Lego Batman The Movie: DC Heroes Unite. Under trailers, we also get “A Sneak Peek at Justice League: War”, “More from DC Comics”, DCU: Superman: Unbound and “DC Heroes”.
The package also includes a DVD copy of Paradox. This comes with a few trailers but lacks any other extras.
In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, we get a mostly satisfying superhero adventure. It struggles in its middle but it usually delivers excitement and emotion. The Blu-ray offers very good picture, audio and supplements. Fans of comic book fare should enjoy this high-quality production.
Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars
| Number of Votes: 5