Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Review

The latest animated movie starring the Justice League adapts a difficult comic story dealing with alternate realities and shattered heroes. Somehow, it succeeds.

Flashpoint is not an easy story to adapt. It plays with a ton of characters, each experiencing fundamental paradoxes from their familiar reality, and has to keep each of these disparate entities clear in the minds of the fan. While at times telling a poignant Barry Allen story, the core Flashpoint comic by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert failed on a number of levels, getting lost in gimmickry rather than tracking the character arcs of those affected by the new reality created when Barry went back in time and prevented the murder of his mother. Somehow, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox succeeded where the comic failed, and told a brutal but personal story about fate, redemption, and loyalty.The film starts with a very effective recap of Barry Allen’s life and the loss of his mom to a brutal murder. In a quick prologue, Flashpoint establishes the Flash’s motivations and shows the inciting event for everything that is about to happen. This is followed by Flash and his Justice League comrades taking down the Rogues in the Flash Museum (yes, animated JLA versus the Rogues in the Flash Museum…every Silver Age baby reading this just fist pumped). The battle is interrupted by Professor Zoom, who betrays the Rogues and establishes himself as a sociopath of the highest order, a villain who will soon plant that seed that will cause Barry to go back in time and save his mother, the event that causes the bleak world of Flashpoint.The JLA work together as a unit, a grouping of godlike and magnanimous individuals who believe in mercy and self-sacrifice. They are friends and allies who care for each other and the world they have sworn to protect. The early unity of the JLA serves as a stark contrast to the chaos and disharmony that Barry soon finds himself in.Barry arrives in the alternate world without warning; the viewers and Barry feel a sense of disorientation as Barry discovers Captain Cold is now Citizen Cold, Central City’s sworn protector, that no one has heard of the Flash or Superman, and that Barry no longer can tap into the Speed Force. The film is complex and moves at a breakneck pace and it respects its viewer enough to keep up. The film daringly boils down a war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman into a wordless montage that leaves the viewer feeling betrayed and depressed because they saw how selfless and heroic Arthur and Diana were in the opening battle with the Rogues and Zoom. Wonder Woman is a nasty villain, and almost Darkseid level in her terrible mercilessness. Aquaman is a thuggish brute, prone to giving into his lustful emotions. They are both fully realized villains of the highest order and maintain an ominous presence throughout the film.One would think that some of the minor characters would be ignored because of time contraints, but most of the Flashpoint players are represented. From pirate Deathstroke and his crew, to Lois Lane embedded in Themyscira, to the Shazam kids that form Captain Thunder, all the players are there and they all get their moments.  The major players and their tragedies are all contrasted to their godlike versions from the beginning of the film. Hal Jordan’s tragic tale to bring down the forces of Atlantis is there, driving home the fact that Flash’s actions cost him the life of his best friend.The Flashpoint version of Superman is well represented and just as shocking as it was in the comic, and then there’s the most grim version of Batman perhaps ever, a hero who suffered an unimaginable tragedy and is as liable to pull out a flask of whisky as a batarang. Batman is the constant reminder of just how dark and lost the world of Flashpoint is and the stunning secret of Martha Wayne is intact and mind-blowing. I won’t ruin it here.This is a violent movie, filled with blood, mayhem, and dismemberment. It is not for the faint of heart but it never borders on the excessive. The Flash made this world through his selfless need of seeing his mom again, and he is the one that must put this lost and shattered world away so his reality can return.Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a film of contrast, of what is and never should be, it shows how even the most heroic souls can become villains given the right push, and it shows even the most dense and impenetrable comic stories can be adapted given the right creative people. It is a must watch animated film filled with emotion and holy shit moments every few minutes.And yes, the Canterbury Cricket makes an appearance.Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 starsLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!