Friday, August 12, 2016

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

   I guess I'm starting to get the appeal of these one-off animated movies. For the longest time I just had no interest in them. Either the animation was off-putting or the story was just not one I felt drawn to. But between Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and this one, The Flashpoint Paradox, I might be a fan. Once I got past the style of the animation they used here, I found the story pretty engrossing. I'll admit right now that I've never read much of The Flash comics. I like the character, I've read stuff with him in it, and I'm a big fan of both the old and the new TV show, so I figured- what the hell? With a positive recommendation from a friend, I decided to check out The Flashpoint Paradox.

   I had a good time with it. Like most of these movies, it's lamentably short, but only because it's so lean. It feels like a full 90 minute movie with every ounce of filler and fluff trimmed away, leaving just the core of the flick. Which isn't a bad thing. So many live action superhero movies feel the need to explain everything to the audience ad nauseam. It's annoying, but thankfully something we don't have to put up with in these kinds of flicks. As far as I'm aware, it's not part of any larger continuity, so there's nothing to really keep tabs on before or after the movie. It's just a breezy little flick that I found surprisingly enjoyable.

   It's also surprisingly violent. I don't know how dark the source material got, but I found some of the scenes in here pretty unsettling. Nothing extreme though, the movie is still a PG-13 after all, but it seems the animated medium gets some slack with what they can show simply because none of it is done with real people on screen. So when Wonder Woman hangs a man to death by lassoing him around his neck, and then slowing floating up until the rope is taut, and his feet are swinging... it's pretty cold blooded and gruesome, but it's also a fantastic scene in it's own right. There's several jarring moments like that in the movie, but they're clearly intended to be jarring.

   For anyone who doesn't know, the story is one of those 'you changed the past and screwed everything up' things. I mean... spoilers? I guess? There's still enough to keep you engaged regardless, the premise and the hook aren't the only interesting things about the movie. It's fun to explore this alternate timeline, and see how different things have become. For example, instead of Clark's rocket landing in Smallville, it crashes in Metropolis. Instead of Thomas and Martha Wayne getting shot, and dying, Bruce got shot and died. It's fun to see how those little details develop into different things, yet fundamentally familiar.

   In this world, the Atlanteans and the Amazons are at war and the rest of the world is caught in the crossfire. Aquaman has a secret weapon that could destroy the world if the Atlanteans lose the war. So there's more at stake here than just a few cosmetic differences. Quite unexpectedly, the movie also gets pretty emotional. From Barry Allen's reunion with his mom, to a certain message across time, the movie has a surprisingly emotional core to it. I liked that a lot, enough to overlook the off-putting style of the movie, which I'm still not a fan of. It just looks really... odd to me. But, regardless, it accommodates the action scenes well.

   When you get right down to it, the strength of the story and the voice acting, which are both pretty darn great, should be able to shine through the animation and the style, and whatever else. The quality of the animation is always a factor when you're watching anything like this, but animation is a medium, not a genre. There are amazing movies that might have horrible special effects, but people can see past that. Thankfully there's not much to 'get over' with Flashpoint Paradox. The animation itself is solid, but the style of it might put off some fans. If it doesn't bother you, I wholeheartedly suggest you give this little gem a watch.

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