Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Release Date: May 4, 2020 – Digital; May 19, 2020 – 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray
Synopsis: Earth is decimated after intergalactic tyrant Darkseid has devastated the Justice League in a poorly executed war by the DC Super Heroes. Now the remaining bastions of good – the Justice League, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad and assorted others – must regroup, strategize and take the war to Darkseid in order to save the planet and its surviving inhabitants. The World’s Greatest Super Heroes square off once-and-for-all against the despotic Darkseid – with the fate of all humanity hanging in the balance – in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War Special Features
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital
–DC Showcase: Adam Strange (Animated Short) – On an asteroid mining colony, mysterious drifter Adam Strange is dismissed as an interplanetary derelict. But when the miners open a fissure into the home of a horde of deadly alien insects, his true identity is exposed. He is space adventurer Adam Strange, whose heroic backstory is played out in flashbacks as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long. Charlie Weber provides the voice of Adam Strange, alongside with Roger R. Cross, Kimberly Brooks, Ray Chase and Fred Tatasciore. Adam Strange is produced and directed by Butch Lukic, who also conceived the original story – which is written by J.M. DeMatteis.
-Darkseid: New God/Evil Classic (New Featurette) – This documentary explores the machinations of one of fiction¹s greatest Super Villains as we learn more about what fuels Darkseid¹s drive to becoming a galactic Atilla the Hun and the importance of Deities in our classic and modern fiction.
-Filmmaker Audio Commentary – Observations and behind-the-scenes insight from Executive Producer James Tucker, Directors Matt Peters and Christina Sotta, and Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker.
-Look Back: Justice League Dark (Featurette) – John Constantine leads a group of misfit characters that use magic to vanquish their opponents. This is the dark version of the Justice League taking on the malevolent forces that go beyond our plane of existence.
-Look Back: Batman and Harley Quinn (Featurette) – Take a peek at the animated feature film, Batman and Harley Quinn, featuring the creators and talented voice cast.
-From the DC Vault: Justice League Action, “Zombie King”
– From the DC Vault: Justice League Action, “Abate and Switch”
-From the DC Comics Vault: Teen Titans, “Nevermore”
-A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie, Superman: Man of Tomorrow – An advanced look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection.
Editions covered in this review. Additional imagery below.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Review
by James Harvey
As reliable as ever, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided Justice League Dark: Apokolips War with an incredible 4K HD presentation and a nice sprinkling of bonus content, though the additional material is not as extensive as many will likely hope. Included in both the physical and digital home media releases for this major DC Universe Movie release, the extra features include a deep dive into the history of Darkseid, another fantastic DC Showcase animated short, and an enjoyably informative commentary track. Couple that with possibly the best physical media presentation for a DC Universe Movie title to date and it all rounds out to a very respectable release.
Looking first at the 4K Ultra HD audio and video transfers, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment gives Justice League Dark: Apokolips War a strong presentation, starting with a solid DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that packs quite the punch. The big action beats sound suitably epic, with the track sounding like it has real heft to it, and making use of each channel, both for specific sounds jumping from speaker to speaker and when making sure every speaker is effectively used, for some of the film’s biggest set pieces. The video, sourced from a 2160p transfer, looks mighty impressive and could be the best looking DC Universe Movie title to date. The visual presentation greatly benefits from the 4K format, with banding, compression and artifacting nearly non-existent, and the colors packing that much more of a punch. Black are deep and colors look fuller and more smooth. It’s a noticable step up when compared to the regular 1080p Blu-ray transfer and stronger than any 4K digital edition transfer. As usual, the 4K Ultra HD release is the way to go for the best presentation of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, but the digital and Blu-ray editions also serve up good (but nowhere near as good) presentations.
Moving on to the bonus content, the studio has put together a good albeit not great package. First up is the 16-minute DC Showcase: Adam Strange animated short, another riveting outing for the shorts series. Produced and directed by Butch Lukic, with a story by Lukic and a teleplay by J.M. DeMatteis, Adam Strange finds himself wasting away on a remote mining colony, haunted by a devastating past failure, but finds possible redemption when he must defend the colony from a threat. Starring Charlie Weber as Adam Strange, it’s a compelling look at a hero struggling with failure and reaching for hope in dark times. The animation (by Digital Emation) and design work is absolutely fantastic, coupled with a stirring story and a neat Alien-esque vibe, marking another home run for the DC Showcase series.
Outside of the animated short, the big draw for fans of the DC Universe Movie line will undoubtedly be the commentary track. Directors Matt Peters and Christine Sotta, executive producer James Tucker, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker join in for a fun, informative track that looks at not just Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, but it also acts as somewhat of a retrospective for Tucker’s tenure on the DC Universe Movie line and this particular continuity. The track is riddled with cool tidbits, such as Tucker’s thoughts on the in-continuity DC Universe Movie titles being dubbed the “Tuckerverse” (he is … not a fan), explains how there wasn’t originally meant to be continuity between these movies, and some of the creative choices, cut and changes made to Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. And yes, this film’s resemblance to the plot of a certain big-screen, live-action movie starring the League is also discussed. The commentary is a legitimately great companion piece to the movie itself and a nice overall view of this continuity and Tucker’s run.
The main featurette, “Darkseid: New God, Classic Evil” is a legitimately interesting and riddled with neat factoids, with creators and historians chiming in on the character’s impact and his role as one of DC Comics’ biggest bad guys The featurette – featuring members of the film’s creative team and personalities from the comic world – dives into the history behind the Jack Kirby’s famed creation, the themes of the character and surprising real-life inspirations, and his different media appearances throughout the years, along with his role in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. The nearly 15-minute featurette also includes a neat tidbit from Tucker on Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox‘s role in the continuity Justice League Dark: Apokolips Now is bringing to a close. The bonus content wraps up with a nearly 9-minute preview of the next DC Universe Movie title, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, which is set to start the next phase of the home movie line, along with a selection of trailers and previews for other DC Comics-related titles.
The bonus content is solid but, as what’s become standard, perhaps a shade underwhelming in scope. However, the commentary track really swoops in to give the release some added heft. And even still, the extra content included here remains perfectly enjoyable and well worth watching. But this is all in support of the main feature, which itself is not only an incredible ride, but its presentation on 4K is second-to-none when it comes to the DC Universe Movie line. While a retrospective on the in-continuity titles would’ve made for a nice addition to what’s here, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment still puts together a fine, though not extensive, package for Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, though the main animated feature and it’s excellent presentation is arguably worth the cost of admission alone. Recommended.
Please note the above review is based on retail-purchased editions, both physical and digital, of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War as review copies were not made available due to the ongoing pandemic.