I’ve enjoyed almost all of the movies out of what is called the DC Animated Universe. I think Crisis on Two Earths was probably my favorite so far, though I wasn’t too big a fan of the last two, Superman Unbound and an animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns. I love the graphic novel of that one, but I think the film stuck a little too close to the source material.
The latest film in the series, The Flashpoint Paradox, just showed up on DVD (all of these have been released straight-to-DVD, which I think works well for the company, since they keep making them), and it recaps the Flashpoint storyline which took place in the actual comics a few years back. I won’t spoil the comics story or the animated film here, but suffice it to say that it’s a far-reaching time travel story, involving an alternate universe in which our most familiar heroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman and Flash) appear as twisted up versions of themselves.
These big crossover titles can be very confusing, and I won’t say that The Flashpoint Paradox isn’t. Though there are a lot of fun nods to DC continuity (and even the animated universe — Ron Perlman makes a quick cameo as a character he’s voiced before, and Nathan Fillion gets to play a few different versions of Hal Jordan, which he’s played before also), but you sort of have to recognize heroes to figure them out, and a few of them are even alternate versions that are never really explained.
Overall, though, the very convoluted storyline is portrayed clearly, and all of the different hero versions (which parlayed into The New 52 event in the comics) end up getting outfitted with both their own new costumes and motivations. Batman’s my favorite character in the standard timeline, and though I didn’t really like his portrayal in the Flashpoint comics, I liked the way he was done here. In fact, I wish we’d seen more of him — the rest of his world was only hinted at enticingly, and I think it would have been fun to explore.
But the central storyline of course revolves around the Flash, and it’s a good one. Though things do get very chaotic throughout the film, the producers wisely put Barry Allen as Flash front and center, and are able to put a very human face and a very intimate concern on a far-reaching, timeline-crossing tale. The Flash is the axle on which this whole story turns, and though in the comics he can get a little too silly for my taste, he holds the whole thing together very well. In fact, more than a few moments in his story were actually very touching (even if it was Batman who finally got me tearing up a bit).
After this movie, the animated DC is headed back into a big Justice League story, retelling Geoff Johns’ “Origin” tale (which I already know doesn’t have a happy ending for me). I don’t know if that will be quite as good as this one, however. If you’re not a huge fan of the DC Universe, The Flashpoint Paradox may have you a little lost at times, with all of the lesser known heroes and alternate realities popping up. But it does a great job of fitting one of the more interesting epics about these modern heroes into a very enjoyable 90 or so minutes, and making sure that even if you miss the cameos and in-jokes, there’s a solid set of relationships to follow right there at the center.
Posted on Friday, August 2nd, 2013 at 12:17 am. Filed under general.