For years fans have held a soft spot for the Injustice: Gods Among Us series which originated as a really fun 2013 video game and was expanded upon in numerous prequel comics. Alternate reality stories can take you to some fascinating places, and a story where Superman is traumatized so deeply that he turns into a malevolent ruler of Earth leaving Batman to lead a force to take him down is pretty irresistible. With explorations through video games and graphic novels, it was only a matter of time that the DC Animated Universe would tackle this material. With such an expansive text, the idea to take the Long Halloween route and give each “Year” of the comic two parts seems reasonable, but this was not in the cards. The resulting film is one that newcomers to the story should find a pretty entertaining journey, but those more well-versed in the original source material may find the omissions maddening. As with many productions in this line, it needed a bit more breathing room to come together gracefully.
The story moves at a breakneck pace from the very beginning. Justin Hartley (Smallville, This Is Us) takes over duties as our Superman, who gets only moments to marvel over the fact that he is going to be a father before The Joker (Kevin Pollak) interrupts the idyllic day with an attack on Metropolis. This is not just another failed attempt at anarchy for The Clown Prince of Crime, and much devastation is soon wrought leaving Superman attempting to cope with a terrible loss. The downfall of Superman is anything but gradual as a mental switch flips in his head in which his good intentions lead to a supreme dictatorship where he is judge, jury and executioner. He is a character in pain, but is that really enough to do away with all the good we know about the Man of Steel? He is not alone in his plight, as Wonder Woman (Janet Varney, The Legend of Korra) and others agree with his ruthless new position. Not so on board is Batman (Anson Mount, Star Trek: Discovery) who begins to gather likeminded Justice League members for a DC Civil War.
Given the time constraints imposed on the film, it does a decent job of cramming the most necessary information into the narrative to make it resonate. Nevertheless, the film struggles with allowing choices to have real weight and getting you invested in these versions of the characters. Early on, a personal favorite character is dispatched of unceremoniously and is not paid the respect of even being mourned by any other members. This is a film with a pretty sizable body count, but each time a hero falls or exits the film for any reason, the impact is not felt as much as it should due to the lack of character development and the steam engine narrative that stops for no one. The best moments of the feature are the smaller character moments; Green Arrow (Reid Scott, Veep) and Harley Quinn (Gillian Jacobs, Community) are a pair I did not know was needed in my life. More of this type of content spread over two halves would have been a dream come true. It is expected to differ from the comic, but what we have instead should be just as thoroughly developed for the story it is attempting to tell.
Those who come to this story looking for thrilling action should not be disappointed. A mid-film attempted jail break at Arkham allows both factions of heroes to come together at least once to kick some rogue butt. The film also utilizes a few characters who do not get to shine in the spotlight as much; Plastic Man (Oliver Hudson, Splitting Up Together) and Mr. Terrific (Edwin Hodge, The Tomorrow War) offer some excitement and humor at pivotal moments. The character who most disappointed me in this story was Wonder Woman, who is mostly relegated to a Superman groupie with little of the depth and compassion we expect from her. In a film filled with many poorly utilized characters, this was the most egregious. As an adaption of the sprawling story, this film is a bit of a disappointment, but as a standalone piece of entertainment it proves to an entertaining feature that struggles with pacing and character development. The animation and vocal performances are all beyond reproach, but the narrative does not live up to the potential of the individual elements.
Injustice comes to 4K UHD Blu-Ray with a 2160p transfer that is incredibly bold with an amazing amount of depth. This disc provides some noticeable improvements over the Blu-Ray in certain areas including more vivid, natural colors and the elimination of any digital artifacting. The melancholy story lends itself to a muted color palette, but the use of HDR yields some very pleasing enhancements to the dynamic colors on display, especially in the exterior sequences in broad daylight. The disc provides much deeper black levels for a cleaner viewing experience free of black crush or banding. Whenever explosions happen on screen, you practically feel like the red and orange is jumping off the screen thanks to the HDR. Despite the dreary tone, the film is stylistically dynamic with a vibrancy appreciated in a story such as this one. The way in which this presentation handles the subtle gradients is just excellent. This disc provides excellent line detail and more distinct shading, which gives the characters greater definition. The Blu-Ray disc looks great, but those with a proper display will likely find the 4K UHD Blu-Ray a more enjoyable experience.
This release boasts a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that really holds its own during this consistently bombastic film. Dialogue is often accompanied by a soaring score and all manner of sound effects, but all of the information comes through clearly without getting muddied. The track engages all of the channels with panning effects and sounds of destruction that really transports you to the middle of the action. This is especially apparent when Superman is zipping around the screen and around your speakers. There is an immense amount of activity in the low-end which will cause your subwoofer to get a thorough workout throughout this presentation. There are no obvious sync issues or other anomalies present. Warner Bros. has delivered an incredibly strong track that showcases the impressive sound design of their DCAU films.
- Adventures In Storytelling: Injustice – Crisis And Conflict: A pretty substantial 31-minute roundtable discussion between Producer Jim Krieg, Director Matt Peters, Producer Rick Morales and Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker in which they discuss the source material, the hesitance to adapt this story, the moral questions within the story, the shocking deaths in the feature, the thin line between heroes and villains, utilizing lesser known characters, the finality to the story and more.
- A Preview Of Reign Of Superman: A three-minute preview of the 2019 film.
- A Preview Of The Death Of Superman: A seven-minute preview of the 2018 film.
- From The DC Vault: Two episodes from the amazing Justice League series are provided in high definition. The complete series is currently available on Blu-Ray and is highly recommended.
- Justice League – “Injustice For All” (21:39)
- Justice League – “Injustice For All Part II” (21:55)
Injustice is a bit messy but ultimately entertaining to casual fans of the material, but those with an immense dedication to the original text may find this omits or changes too much for your personal taste. The animation is gorgeous and the voice work employed by the ensemble is top-notch for bringing these characters to life. With the limitations that condensing the material into a single film put on the production, the team did about as well as you could hope in pulling this off. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray featuring a stellar A/V presentation and a couple of fun special features. The film is certainly worth a spin for those curious how they handle the material.
Injustice is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.