Now when I first heard about this movie, I got pretty excited for a number of reasons. First off was because it has Constantine in it and they got Matt Ryan, who was great playing the role in the short lived series, to do the voice acting for it. The second reason was because it has Swamp Thing, who I always thought was one of the more interesting, yet underused, characters in DC comics. So with two characters that I like in this movie, it only made sense for me to pre-order it. So let’s see just how good DC’s latest animated movie as I watch Justice League Dark.
The plot: In Washington DC, a woman believes everyone is a monster and starts running them down until Wonder Woman stops her. In Metropolis, a man threatens to shoot his family, believing they are monsters but Superman stops him only to learn the man has also killed his neighbors. In Gotham, a woman stands on top of the church and prepares to throw her baby off the roof, believing that she gave birth to the devil. Batman tries to talk her out of it but when she throws the baby, he manages to rescue it but is unable to stop the woman from throwing herself off the roof. Back at Justice League headquarters, the League go over what has happened and notice that the pattern is happening all over the world. When Wonder Woman suggest magic might be the cause, Batman gets annoyed at the suggestion and leaves but when he is shaving at Wayne manor, he temporarily blacks out and finds the name Constantine written in the steam on the mirror, as well as all over the wall of his bedroom. One week earlier, Constantine and Jason Blood are playing poker with The Demons Three in Las Vegas. When he doesn’t have enough money to cover the final bet, Constantine bets the House of Mystery and all the contents inside so the demons summon up a treasure chest of magical artifacts to match it. Constantine wins the bet after cancelling the magic that the demons were using to cheat and they attack him. When Jason refuses to help, Constantine uses magic to temporarily possess Jason, forcing him to summon the demon Etrigan to defeat the demons. After the battle, Etrigan changes back into Jason, who proceeds to punch Constantine and chastise him for letting Etrigan loose. Back in the present, Batman goes to see Zatanna after one of her shows and asks her how to find Constantine, as he knows they used to date. As they are talking, Batman is temporarily possessed by Boston Brand (a.k.a. Deadman), who tells Zatanna that both Batman and her need to find Constantine, before Batman kicks Boston out of his body. Zatanna agrees to help Batman find Constantine and along the way, tells him the story of what happened with Boston. As they head for the house of mystery, a tornado suddenly appears and Zatanna uses her magic to help protect the Batmobile as they make it to the House of Mystery and Constantine ushers them inside. Once they are safe, Constantine uses his magic to make it so Batman can see and speak to Boston, just as Black Orchid appears and Constantine explains that the magic of the house decided to give itself a body in order to understand humanity better. Orchid seems fascinated with Boston, commenting that he is just like her, and also reveals that Zatanna still has feelings for Constantine, which shocks Constantine and embarrasses Zatanna. After Batman explains what is going on, Constantine uses magic to see what had happened and Boston tells him that Rama Kushna, the Hindu god that gave Boston’s spirit the power to possess the living in order to seek vengeance, says that even the afterlife will be affected. Constantine wants to handle it alone, but says he could use Zatanna’s magic as well but Zatanna refuses to go unless they all go and Constantine reluctantly agrees. Constantine takes them to see an old friend named Ritchie Simpson but as they approach Ritchie’s house, they see a group of Shrouds there waiting to take Ritchie’s soul and Constantine chases them away. Inside, Ritchie is upset that Constantine isn’t there to apologize for what happened to him but only to get the Keshanti Key from him but eventually gives it to Batman. The group head to the hospital in Metropolis where the man Superman stopped is being held, and Constantine and Zatanna use the key to enter the man’s mind and look through his memories in order to find out what possessed him. Meanwhile, someone summons an excremental ( a demon made of fecal matter) to attack them and Boston and Batman do their best to stop it but it manages to grab the body and starts to dissolve it. Constantine and Zatanna find the memory they were looking for and Constantine grabs the fragment showing a strange ring before they leave the body and Zatanna is able to get rid of the demon. Unable to identify the ring, the group heads back to Ritchie’s place only to find him almost dead, with Jason Blood standing over him while the Shrouds are trying to collect his soul. Batman manages to revive Ritchie while Constantine captures Jason and they head back to the house. At the house, Constantine questions Jason and Jason says that he had gone to Ritchie’s to see if he had an artifact that could get him inside the House of Mystery. He then explains that one of the artifacts that Constantine won from the demons is actually the Stone of Destiny, a gem full of dark magic that was used by an evil magician named Destiny back in the time of Camelot. Jason, who was a knight in King Arthur’s court at the time, had died in battle fighting Destiny but after Merlin’s pet demon Etrigan defeated Destiny, Merlin bonds Jason to Etrigan as a precaution against Destiny’s return. Ritchie regains consciousness and identifies the ring as belonging to Felix Faust but Constantine is unable to locate him. With no other choice, Constantine takes the group into the swamp to locate Swamp Thing, who is convinced to help them locate Faust by Zatanna. Swamp Thing uses his elemental powers to transport them to Faust’s location but refuses to help them any further. Jason changes into Etrigan, who bursts into Faust observatory but Faust easily deflects the attack and summons three demons to fight him. When Zatanna enters, she finds that Faust has made it so she can not speak, thereby cancelling her ability to cast spells so while Constantine, Batman, and Boston face off against Faust, she tries to locate the object that is keeping her from speaking. She manages to find it just as Faust is about to kill her and uses her magic to save herself, then defeat Faust but when she goes to kill Faust, Constantine stops her and helps her regain control of her magic. Faust questions why they attacked him and Jason realizes that he is not the one behind things, recognizing the three demons Etrigan faced as the demons he and Constantine played poker against. Realizing that Faust could have had the Stone fo Destiny at any time, Batman says that Ritchie was the one that sent them after Faust, indicating that he is behind what happened. Back at the house, Ritchie awakens and reveals that he has the missing piece of the Stone of Destiny hidden in his cane and uses it to help keep himself alive. Black Orchid tries to stop him but he reminds her that Constantine said to help him in whatever way and uses her to get the other part of the gem. When Constantine and the others arrive at the house, they find Ritchie with both parts of the gem and saying he is now super charged but Constantine says that Ritchie has been played for a fool. Suddenly, the piece that Ritchie had used to save his life is ripped from his body and attaches to the main gem, and Ritchie is suddenly taken over by a reformed Destiny. Destiny blows up the house and heads off to the city in order to cause chaos so he can get stronger. Zatanna manages to save the group but falls unconscious due to all the magic she has used and Constantine places a charm on her to help her heal and keep her safe, then takes the others to fight Destiny. When they get to the city, they find people attacking each other and even the Justice League become infected, with John Stewart, filling in for Hal Jordan on Earth, attacking Batman. Jason summons Etrigan and attacks Destiny but Destiny uses his powers to separate Jason and Etrigan. Constantine uses magic to damage a tree near Destiny, which causes Swamp Thing to appear and begin fighting Destiny but Destiny is able to get the upper hand and rips Alec Holland’s body from Swamp Thing, causing him to revert back into swamp vegetation. Batman is able to defeat John Stewart and Zatanna arrives to defeat Wonder Woman, then keeps Superman at bay while Batman helps take on Destiny. Constantine has Boston inhabit his body, then allows himself to be captured by Destiny and taken into his protective sphere, where Boston then leaps into Destiny’s body. Boston is able to dispel the protective sphere before Destiny kicks him out of his body but when Destiny goes to attack Boston and Constantine, Jason Blood runs Etrigan’s sword through Destiny’s chest. As Constantine uses his magic to exorcise Destiny, Batman destroys the crystal to keep him from regaining his powers and Destiny is defeated, leaving Ritchie standing there and the Shrouds appear and drag his soul to Hell. With Destiny defeated, Jason succumbs to the wound he received back in Medieval times and dies. Constantine, Zatanna, and Etrigan take Jason’s body and bury it where his village once stood, then Etrigan disappears. Zatanna tells Constantine that she is joining the Justice League and that the have extended an offer to Constantine, who scoffs until she tells him Batman was the one that suggested he join. Constantine refuses at first but when Zatanna goes to leave, he stops her and says they can talk about it, then invites her back to the restored house for a drink. The two enter the house, where Black Orchid hands them both a pint and as they head inside, Boston is seen to have been watching them and he heads inside the house as well to spend time with Black Orchid.
I know that many of the DC animated movies have taken on a darker edge to them but this one took it to a different level. I don’t know how different this is from the comic series but this is a really good movie. The voice acting was really good, with Matt Ryan (Constantine), Jason O’Mara (Batman), and Camilla Luddington (Zatanna) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good and while I was glad to see that it ended with some magic users being added to the Justice League, I was sad that they killed Swamp Thing and Jason Blood (which essentially sent Etrigan back to Hell) as they had potential to be used a lot more in future movies. As much as Batman gets overused in movies (I know that may be sacrilegious to most but it is kind of true), I did like his use in this movie as he himself is closer to the darker aspects of humanity than most of the Justice League but he also helped keep things somewhat grounded. The animation was incredible, with the overall color scheme of the movie being pretty dark while the various magic used was bright, the contrast and effect that much more effective. A great movie to watch and a great way to showcase some under used characters.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5