A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a 2020 DC Comics animated movie in which the Justice League regroups after defeat to save the Earth from Darkseid and his minions. Even among the many dark depictions of superheroes and villains in recent years, this contains more content intended for mature teens and adults, which explains the movie's R rating. The third act of the movie is one extended violent battle. Fighting with machine guns, lasers, punches, kicks. Character shot and killed in the forehead. Attempted suicide. Regular profanity, including "f--k" and some colorful variations. Innuendo concerning oral sex. Binge drinking in a bar, as one of the heroes takes to drowning his sorrows in the bars still standing in Gotham after the Justice League is defeated. Cigarette smoking. This is the 15th film in the DC Movie Animated Movie Universe franchise, and while this sequel can be enjoyed on its own terms due to the constant action and basic familiarity most people have with most of the characters, it's still a movie that's best enjoyed by superfans of the DCU.
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What's the story?
In JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: APOKOLIPS WAR, after Darkseid's (Tony Todd) two failed attempts to conquer the Earth, Superman (Jerry O'Connell) thinks that it's time to go on the offensive. Under his leadership, the Justice League will go to Apokolips to fight while the Teen Titans stay behind to guard Earth. This attack is a colossal failure -- the Paradooms rout the Justice League and either kill or enslave them and slaughter the Teen Titans. Two years later, Earth is a wasteland, conquered by Darkseid, mined by "Reapers" that are emptying Earth's core as Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson) oversees this strip-mining while reporting to Batman (Jason O'Mara), who has been brainwashed into being Darkseid's henchman. The remaining superheroes blame Clark Kent, who is kept human by liquid Kryptonite covering his body, as Raven contemplates suicide, and John Constantine and Ertigan the Demon spend their time binge drinking in the ruins of bars. After Clark stops Raven's suicide attempt, they make a plan to find Damian in the hopes that he can somehow rescue Batman from Darkseid's clutches. Damian is now the leader of the League of Assassins, and Lois Lane has recruited the Suicide Squad (now led by Harley Quinn) to try and infiltrate LexCorps and find a way back to Apokolips. As the remnants of the League and their unlikely allies begin to reemerge, they must find a way to rescue the enslaved superheroes and rescue what's left of the Earth by stopping Darkseid, the Paradooms, and the Reapers.
Is it any good?
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the 15th and final film in the DC Animated Movie Universe. While it's possible to enjoy this movie on its own, this is definitely best enjoyed by those who, if they haven't seen the previous 14 movies in the series, have at least more than passing familiarity with the DC Comics Universe. It's somehow even grittier and darker than the DC movies of the last quarter century or so, and it has certainly earned its R rating. The blurred lines between "good" and "evil" that has come to define so much of these characters and their stories and backstories now takes the overarching narratives into territory long believed to be impossible -- superheroes can actually be killed. Not knowing who will actually survive this onslaught -- and it's an onslaught, as the third act is essentially one long nonstop war -- actually makes this more interesting than the typical superhero and villain stories where it's generally assumed that "the good guys" will survive no matter what "the bad guys" throw at them.
Without a working knowledge of the DCU, or familiarity with what happened in the previous movies, so much of this can feel like little more than fan fiction. There are unexpected alliances, characters in unusual situations and relationships, and story and character twists best enjoyed by fellow superfans. It can be exhausting trying to keep up with what's happening with every single superhero and their respective fates, and the story soon grows into a wearying hydra-headed complexity, so much so that new viewers can be forgiven for simply enjoying the epic battle scenes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies with iconic superheroes and villains. How are these well-known superheroes and villains similar to and different from other depictions in other movies, TV shows, comic books, etc.?
This is the 15th (and presumably final) film in the DC Animated Movie Universe franchise. As a sequel, can this movie be enjoyed on its own, or is it necessary to watch the previous movies to understand and appreciate the story?
This movie has very mature content. Did much of this content seem necessary to the story and characters, or did it seem gratuitous? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: May 5, 2020
- Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Jason O'Mara, Rosario Dawson
- Director: Matt Peters
- Studio: DC Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Bloody violence, language, and some sexual references.
- Last updated: December 8, 2020
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