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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox – Double Review

JusticeLeagueTheFlashpointParadox-finalboxartSince Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has such importance for Flash fans, we are bringing you not one, but TWO different reviews featuring THREE points of view (just read below, you’ll understand).  Let’s get started – with a quick note:

SPOILERS AHEAD!

LIA’S REVIEW:

As a Rogues fan I was quite excited for the film, and on that front it did and didn’t disappoint.  The Rogues are pretty tough, and put up a decent fight for the Flash.  However, once Professor Zoom shows up they pretty much turn into comic relief.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I suspect many Rogues fans won’t be happy about it, and I was a little bit disappointed by how hapless and dopey they seemed.  But overall I found their scene entertaining and enjoyable, and in the end that’s mostly what I want from a film like this.  Plus, their scene is actually important: it shows what the regular DC universe is like to new viewers, so people understand how the Flashpointverse is significantly different and awful.  And there’s a nice clear contrast made between the more benign criminality of the Rogues and a crueler villain like Professor Zoom.  The scene really works.

Professor Zoom fans should be pleased with his portrayal, because he’s a magnificent trolling bastard as he ought to be.  But although the film’s plot follows the original Flashpoint comics pretty closely once Barry winds up in the Flashpointverse, the story has a few odd changes: the movie implies Barry’s mother was killed by a random stranger, not Thawne (and Henry Allen isn’t mentioned in the story at all ­ it seems Nora was a single mother).  I think that’s a very strange plot choice, because now Thawne doesn’t seem quite as monstrous or obsessed with Barry.  He does taunt Barry about what happened to Nora Allen, but doesn’t seem to have been personally involved in her fate.  Why did the writers decide to make that thematic change?

The art styles and character designs give me mixed feelings.  They can be jarring in places, and at times the characters’ proportions are drawn truly ludicrously.  But overall I liked it (it’s certainly unique and not bland), and found it kind of endearing.  The animation is smooth and flawless.  And there are also nice subtle touches here and there, like Captain Boomerang’s costumes; in the DCU Rogues’ scene his costume is very reminiscent of his look in Justice League Unlimited, but his cameo in the Flashpointverse shows him in an outfit based on his Brightest Day redesign.  Out with the old, in with the new.

I haven’t watched the bonus features yet, but am somewhat annoyed that the “My Favourite Flash Villain” feature is only available on the Blu-Ray disk.  I bought the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack so I do own it, but I don’t have a Blu-Ray player.  I’ve been looking forward to that feature for months, but can’t watch it until I get access to somebody else’s player.

Overall I enjoyed the film.  The violence was a bit much, to be honest, and I’m kind of horrified that the film managed to make Professor Zoom’s death even more gruesome than the original comic.  But I loved seeing the Flash and his villains take a key role, and found the story well done as a whole.  The film is unsurprisingly dark, but there are occasional touches of humour here and there to offset it, and Barry manages to keep things fairly light with his genial personality.  And because the film mostly follows the original story so closely, it can’t really take the blame for the extreme darkness — that’s the fault of the Flashpoint comic.  All the same, it’s darker and more violent than I personally like in my entertainment, and I would have preferred it if the tone of the entire film was more like the early Rogues scene than the intense grimness of the Flashpointverse.  But we take what we’re given, and I still had fun.

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ED’S REVIEW

I watched Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox with my college-age son, Will.  My son hasn’t been a big comics fan (he was more into the animated shows of Batman and the Justice League instead of the books) and he had not ever read the Flashpoint series.  Interestingly enough, that was a big factor in the different opinions we had of the movie.

I enjoyed the movie overall…my son didn’t hate it but felt it suffered from distractions and from trying to do more than the time of the movie allowed.  The difference? I had read Flashpoint and found myself mentally “filling in the blanks” where the movie didn’t include the storyline details of the comics.  Without that point of reference, there were gaps that needed more explanation than the running time of the movie allowed. For example, Hal Jordan’s entire storyline was reduced to just a quick flight and death scene.  Lois Lane’s work with the Resistance was cut so short that the Resistance itself wasn’t explained very well.  The reason for the war was cut short as well, leaving out most of the machinations that caused Arthur and Diana to be pitted against each other in the first place.  The Joker was barely revealed as Martha Wayne without exploring it further, leaving out one of the more heart-wrenching side storylines of the Flashpoint series.  In my mind, I knew what the story originally included so it made more sense to me…but it didn’t make nearly as much sense to my son who grew up on the cartoons rather than the comics.   It seemed that they knew they could not put everything in this movie, but felt they had to somehow include key characters for the fans…so they put them in through cameos that made much less sense given their short screen time.

Getting past those differences, there were some points where we agreed.  The dialogue was a bit clunky at times, especially early on, but that improved over the course of the movie.  And, the violence was at times a bit over the top (think Steve Trevor’s eyes bulging out at his death and Mera’s severed head), even though this was based on a very grim Flashpoint series.   It may be a bit extreme in terms of violence for a small child.

Just a couple of additional notes.  I loved seeing the Pre-New 52 Rogues at the beginning of the movie – it was a nice touch.  On the other hand, I wish they had been able to include Barry’s last conversation with his mother prior to setting the timeline back (which was in the comic but not in the movie).  The bottom line? While they missed some opportunities to make this movie even better, both my son and I still enjoyed Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox overall.

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