Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Runtime: 78 minutes
Release Date: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Blu-ray, Digital – October 19, 2021
Synopsis: Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice finds an alternate world gone mad – where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes. But when Super Heroes go to war, can the world survive?
Justin Hartley and Anson Mount lead the Injustice all-star cast as Superman and Batman, respectively. The massive cast also includes Janet Varney as Wonder Woman, Brandon Micheal Hall as Cyborg, Kevin Pollak as Joker & Jonathan Kent, Anika Noni Rose as Catwoman, Reid Scott as Green Arrow & Victor Zsasz, Edwin Hodge as Mr. Terrific & Killer Croc, Gillian Jacobs as Harley Quinn, Oliver Hudson as Plastic Man, Laura Bailey as Lois Lane & Rama Kushna, Faran Tahir as Ra’s al Ghul, Derek Phillips as Nightwing & Aquaman, Yuri Lowenthal as Mirror Master, Flash & Shazam, Zach Callison as Damian & Jimmy Olsen, Brian T. Delaney as Green Lantern, Fred Tatasciore as Captain Atom, and Andrew Morgado as Mirror Master Soldier.
Matt Peters directs Injustice from a screenplay by Ernie Altbacker. Jim Krie is Producer and Alyessa Ornelas is Associate Producer. Producer is Rick Morales. Sam Register is Executive Producer.
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Injustice Animated Feature Review
By James Harvey
With a wealth of bloody action and an unrelenting pace, the Injustice animated movie doesn’t hold back when it’s time for the fists to fly. Like the video game and comic series it’s based on, this DC Animated Movie title puts viewers right in the middle of the morally grey action, which can be genuinely exciting at times. Injustice shines when the battles rage, but without a fully-developed story and ample character beats to give these life-and-death tussles meaning, the animated adaptation ends in more of a draw than a flawless victory.
In an alternate universe, the world is thrown into chaos after The Joker viciously tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child, sending the Man of Steel into crazed hysterics over their deaths. After killing The Joker, an unstable Superman decides to take control of Earth for humanity’s own good, an act which quickly divides the superhero community. Forced to act, Batman is determined to bring down the Mad Man of Steel before the planet falls under his grip forever.
Please note that while spoilers will be light, there will be references made to specific story beats both in the animated movie and from the Injustice: Gods Among Us video games and spin-off comics.
Injustice wastes no time getting things rolling. In the span of fifteen minutes, it goes from Superman and Lois Lane awkwardly (in a sweet way) discovering they are new parents to The Joker being on the receiving end of the ultimate punchline (to steal a phrase from the movie). To note, these events are depicted in the film’s trailer. While a little too speedy, it’s an ultimately effective start that kicks off the story with a rocket’s pace and, despite some already readily apparent hiccups, should keep viewers glued to their screens. The opening, and just how fast life can change on a dime, does help sell Superman’s quick turn from hero to murderer, even if it’s not entirely believable.
The film holds that rapid pace as we shift from the set-up to the fallout and, well, a lot happens in those remaining 60-ish minutes. While Injustice does try to smooth some aspects of the hefty story it’s adapting – especially when you consider it’s covering a video game and five years worth of stories – it also chooses to add and shuffle around some plot points from the comics that don’t really gel. Injustice pulls primarily from the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and the Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year One comic series, along with some plot points and events from the Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year Two, Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year Three, Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year Five and (it seems) even a loose idea or two from the Injustice 2 comic series. And while it’s smart to hit those key points in order to streamline the story and make it work as an 80-minute movie, some of the choices seem almost random.
There is a lot more that can be discussed when it comes to the decisions made in adapting Injustice, but so many veer into hard spoiler territory. Some characters are killed off in underwhelming or dirty fashion, while others are completely left out, including some major players in the Injustice video game storyline. Again, some of the choices do make sense, and the difficulty in deciding what to cut and what to keep must’ve been off the charts, but their absence also robs the movie of the weight needed to make the bigger moments effectively hit hard.
However, at the same time, there are also some really smart changes made that drastically improve some aspects of the original material, especially when it comes to Wonder Woman’s depiction and some aspects of Superman’s eroding mental state. There’s a legitimately shocking scene where Batman and Catwoman witness a horrific act on Superman’s part that ends up being pretty effective almost solely for it’s sheer audacity. It really does sell how far the Man of Steel has fallen, and ends up having a surprising impact on Wonder Woman, but the lead-up to it isn’t sufficient.
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The movie tries to tell so much story that it forgets to let things breathe a little. To linger in those quiet moments. There are countless opportunities, but we don’t really get that. Again, the quick opening set-up makes sense to effectively portray the chaotic and quick nature of these events, but it makes the mistake of keeping that same pace going forward. As a result, Injustice just kinda keeps going, pushing out enough plot for two or three more movies before the end credits roll. The movie loses the nuances of its story. It’s unfortunate because the film’s strong parts are brushed aside quickly to move on to the next plot point, leaving no real impression and sometimes resulting in character decisions that seem abrupt or out-of-place due to lack of development.
Despite its problems, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Lots of great moments, including some of Tom Taylor’s smart dialogue and character beats, are recreated here for the movie. If not directly, then modified to fit the confines of this iteration of Injustice. There’s an excellent scene here with Superman and Mr. Terrific where they have a philosophical debate over a game of chess, a modified take on the similar debates between Superman and The Flash from the Injustice comics. There are other bits scattered throughout, but the movie just can’t adequately string them together.
Even if the end product doesn’t hit all the marks, the creatives behind it still clearly give it their all. The directing by Matt Peters is solid and straight forward, juggling big action beats with ease and a bit of flare. While Ernie Altbacker’s script does fall short in some regards, he still makes a commendable attempt to bring all these different aspects of the Injustice video games and comics together. Voice work is fairly solid across the board, even if it takes a little bit of adjustment, especially if you’re used to the cast of the video games. The likes of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, Phil LaMarr and George Newbern are greatly missed, but the cast here does good work. Anson Mount, Janet Varney and Gillian Jacobs – as Batman, Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn, respectively – all turn in notable work here, though it takes a bit of time for Justin Hartley to find his footing as Superman (but he eventually hits his groove).
Additionally, the animation is pretty good, easily on par (and sometimes exceeding) with the recent efforts from the DC Universe Movie line. While it’s not consistently strong from start to finish, there’s very little in terms of stiff or jerky animation, with any lapses barely noticeable. It’s also admittedly cool to see some of the super-moves from the game brought to life here. Fittingly, the character designs and animation style for Injustice are nearly identical to Warner Bros. Animation’s recent (and awesome) Mortal Kombat Legends animated features, and were clearly handled by the same creators. Characters also look great, though some can look a shade bulky and blocky (likely the result of staying true to the clunky costumes of the video game series). Also worth noting is the film’s excellent score by Robert J. Kral. Not only is this his best work on a DC Comics-based project to date, but his growth from 2007’s Superman/Doomsday to today (with Injustice) is legitimately impressive. It’s an excellent score, packed with wicked nods and neat surprises, deserving of recognition.
While Injustice may fall short of the tragic, action-packed epic many were expecting, there’s still good material to be found within. The fisticuffs are ultimately satisfying, and there are some pretty excellent character beats (though they still remain sparse overall), but the film’s understandable emphasis on fighting over feelings robs it of depth. It’s a valiant effort, struck down by its own lofty ambitions.
In the end, Injustice tries to cover too much ground, jamming years or stories into an 80-minute feature, when a more focused, streamlined version would’ve likely been more effective. Injustice almost plays out like an abbreviated rundown of the events from the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and spin-off comics, hitting most of the key events, but lacking a cohesive, structured narrative to make it into a satisfying, fully fleshed-out story. Injustice is at least worth a Rental, as both casual and die-hard fans are likely interested to see just how this take on the acclaimed fighting franchise handles itself.
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[ Continue on to the Injustice Home Media review ]