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‘Injustice’ collapses under its own ambition

It was successful as a video game series, as well as a comic book series. But does Injustice work in the field of direct-to-video animation?

In 2013, NetherRealm Studios, known for developing the Mortal Kombat games from the last decade, made a fighting game that was set in a parallel universe within the DC Comics’ Multiverse. Presenting a storyline featuring darker versions of iconic DC superheroes and a gaming system that was built upon several aspects of Mortal KombatInjustice: Gods Among Us was so successful that it not only spawned a better sequel, but also a long-running comic book series written by Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato. 

Whilst fans are hoping NetherRealm Studios to announce a possible Injustice 3, as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, an animated film based on the video games is released. After being tricked by the Joker (Kevin Pollak) into killing his pregnant wife, Lois Lane (Laura Bailey) and detonating a nuclear weapon that destroys Metropolis, Superman (Justin Hartley) descends into madness with his intentions to put the Earth in peace, by force if necessary. Causing friction amongst members of the Justice League, Batman (Anson Mount) rebels against the new regime with the hope to redeem his best friend. 

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Adapting a video game into a movie is a challenge; just pick one video game movie previously and most likely you’ve picked one that sucked. It’s also another challenge to adapt a whole comic book storyline into a movie. So, it’s rather ambitious for this direct-to-video animation with a running time of 78 minutes to tackle this wildly popular source material.

Sadly, this adaptation gets collapsed under its own ambition. Like a superhero crossover event, it juggles too many characters and doesn’t quite how to use everyone, let alone find an emotional angle. 

A lot of the characters are well-cast, particularly the Holy Trinity. Justin Hartley plays Superman with such rage that it’s rather terrifying, Janet Varney finds a balance in a take on Wonder Woman that could’ve been detestable, whilst the moody vocals of Anson Mount make you wish he played Batman in a live-action movie.

Considering the dark and tragic events that occur throughout the movie, moments like the death of Lois Lane don’t hit as hard as it should, because the movie is rushing to establish many other things. There’s even a whole subplot where Green Arrow is protecting Harley Quinn, which doesn’t go anywhere, other than to show how comically crazy she always is. 

'Injustice' collapses under its own ambition

This is definitely a case where the filmmakers are just reveling in the massive treasure that is the DC universe, albeit a dark parallel one, without much resonance, not even on an animation standpoint. With an animation style that evokes the recent animated Mortal Kombat movies, Injustice is one of exploding gory violence, but blood is shed and unfortunately falls into a recurring pitfall that has plagued a number of DC animated flicks.

Knowing full well this is adapting a source material that outs a more mature spin on these colorful characters, there is something off in the way the movie tries to earn its R-rating, in which these heroes are swearing and getting bloodied for the sake of being edgy. There is some fan-service such as certain super-moves that you can achieve in the games, but the action here seems so uninspired, despite the plethora of superpowers going on.

‘Injustice’ collapses under its own ambition
Crushed under its own weight, in terms of adaptation, the animated spin on the Injustice franchise tries to do a lot without much of it resonating.
Reader Rating0 Votes
A well-cast ensemble doing spot-on voices for these iconic characters...
...even though the emotional turmoil they go through doesn't hit as hard as they should.
With a running time of 78 minutes, it revels the huge range of DC characters without much coherence to help the central narrative.
On an animation standpoint, the action is uninspired, whilst the desire to push strong content for its R-rating can be numbing.

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