Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020) [4K UHD/Blu-Ray/Digital]

It’s disappointing that this is where we’ve arrived with the DC Warner animated movies. We went from stellar to “Its fine, I guess.” That’s exactly what “Apokolips War,” the sequel (?) to “Justice League Dark” is. It’s fine. It’s okay. It has all the ingredients to be a damn good epic, but instead chooses gruesome pointless violence, over heart and substance. I’m not one to complain about violence in more mature aimed films, but “Apokolips War” often watches like it’s compensating for the lack of any real substance or entertainment value by splashing the screen with ridiculous violence and gore.

The Justice League have gotten word that Darkseid might be planning an all out assault on Earth for one final attempt to conquer it. Led by Superman, the Justice League, JL Dark, and the Teen Titans plan a first strike. After that plan proves utterly disastrous, two years later Earth is a wasteland under invasion by Darkseid and his new breed of Parademons. Now with a depowered Kal El and Raven leading the charge, they recruit John Constantine, Etrigan (and various members from Teen Titans and Suicide Squad) to help them bring down Darkseid (and his new second in command, Batman) before he completes his ultimate plan to absorb Earth’s resources.

If there’s one thing that keeps “Apokolips War” from being a great finisher to what’s been an overall mediocre animated universe is the pointless violence that the animators enact. They almost seem to relish in delivering gruesome endings to beloved heroes; People like Batgirl and Swamp Thing are eaten alive by Parademons, while heroes like Robin and John Stewart are literally ripped in two. “Apokolips War” is well animated but problematic in that it tries to deal with the initial storyline/maguffin (e.g. Darkseid) while resolving storylines from the other spin offs of this animated universe. That means Robin coming to grips with Batman, Raven trying to conquer her father, Harley Quinn realizing her leadership role as the Suicide Squad.

As for our pal Superman, he realizes that he’s kind of a moron—while facing a new form of Doomsday. Seriously, I am a true blue Superman fan, but in “Apokolips War” he’s a grade A moron who acts recklessly, charges in head first without an actual plan, and never seems to learn from his mistakes. That said there are redeeming qualities including the supporting turns from Harley Quinn and Lois Lane, as well as John Constantine becoming the inadvertent hero who helps to stop Darkseid. Star Matt Ryan does a great job in the role, and as Constantine, you can’t help but root for him, even when he’s reluctant to go in to battle. I also quite enjoyed Tony Todd as Darkseid; he’s absolutely creepy in the role.

“Apokolips War” is a suitable ending to the DCAMU. Like most of the movies in this universe, it’s mediocre, passable entertainment suitable for background noise on a lazy day.

The Release from Warner includes DC Showcase: Adam Strange a sixteen minutes animated short that follows the titular space adventurer — now a drunken bum — during his extended stay on an asteroid mining colony, while his much more heroic earlier life is revealed during a few flashbacks. Voices includes of Charlie Weber, Kimberly Brooks, Fred Tatasciore, and more, with a story by J.M. DeMatteis (Constantine: City of Dreams) and direction by Butch Lukie (Batman: Unlimited franchise). The fifteen minutes Darkseid: New God / Evil Classic, is an enjoyable featurette exploring the infamous supervillain, the New Gods, Jack Kirby, and a general overview of godlike beings and ruthless conquerors present in classic and modern fiction.

Featured are directors Matt Peters and Christine Sotta, writer/comic historian Mark Evanier, DC Daily host Hector Navarro, executive producer James Tucker, and others. There’s an Audio Commentary with Directors Matt Peters and Christine Sotta, executive producer James Tucker, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker, all of whom sit down for a full-length track full of candid insight and trivia. Finally, there’s the always reliable From the DC Vault, which features Three related adventures are included “Zombie King” and “Abate and Switch” from the first volume of Justice League Action (only available on DVD), as well as “Nevermore” from the first season of Teen Titans.