A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Justice League: War is a 2014 straight-to-DVD installment in which Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and other well-known superheroes band together to stop an alien invasion of Earth. While the more "noir" takes of these superheroes has been going on for some time now -- Batman and company are far from perfect, have obvious flaws, have difficulty finding acceptance from the human race, etc. -- parents more accustomed to the '70s and '80s evocations of these characters will be more than a little shocked to see the Green Lantern call Batman a "phenomenal douche bag." There is other profanity throughout (including "s--t" and "bitch"), but it's the violence that's the most prevalent. The movie feels like one long fight scene as superheroes and villains fight each other, throw each other into walls and buildings, and battle with swords. There is some bullying and taunting, and in one scene a man informs Wonder Woman that she "dress[es] like a whore." Also, when Wonder Woman puts the "lasso of truth" around this man, he reveals he cross-dresses in a Wonder Woman costume because it "makes [him] feel powerful."
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What's the story?
Batman is blamed for a series of abductions. In pursuit of the actual kidnapper, Green Lantern comes to realize that the attacker is actually a Parademon -- one of the monstrous alien troops under the service of Darkseid. They pursue the Parademon into the sewers, where it charges a Mother Box. As they try to make sense of this Mother Box, the Flash supplies another Mother Box to S.T.A.R. Labs, where the scientist father of a winning football player named Vick (Shemar Moore) cares only for finding out all he can about the Mother Box. When these and other Mother Boxes explode and turn into Boom Tubes, the superheroes realize that an alien invasion perpetrated by Darkseid is eminent; while in the midst of an argument with his father at S.T.A.R. Labs, Vick is gravely wounded by Boom Tubes emerging from the Mother Box he holds in his hand. Vick emerges as the superhero Cyborg, who must join forces with Shazam, another newly emerged superhero, along with Superman (Alan Tudyk), Batman, Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), Green Lantern, and the Flash to save Earth and stop the alien invasion.
Is it any good?
JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR is enjoyable, even if at times it just feels like one big battle scene rather than an origin story of sorts. There's nothing quite like a scene in which Green Lantern calls Batman a "phenomenal douche bag" to let anyone more accustomed to the "Superfriends" Saturday morning cartoons of their '70s and '80s childhoods know that we're a long way from those days. Superheroes are now conveyed as deeply flawed, short-tempered, and misunderstood by humanity at large. The story is best enjoyed by those who are already familiar with such things as "Mother Boxes," "Parademons," and "Boom Tubes." The origins of Cyborg and Shazam are interesting, but it's all part of the frenzy that, at times, feels overwhelming, like trying to convey too much information and story in a limited amount of time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in animated features. How is it similar to and different from the violence in nonanimated feature films and TV programs? How has that changed over time?
Was the violence in this movie necessary for the story, or did it feel forced?
How are the superheroes' characters shown to be more complex than they were in the past?
- On DVD or streaming: February 4, 2014
- Cast: Alan Tudyk, Michelle Monaghan, Shemar Moore
- Director: Jay Oliva
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Book Characters, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 79 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Sequences of violence and action, and some language.
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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