'Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox' is the 17th DC Universe Animated Original Movie. It is based on the 2011 DC Comics crossover event "Flashpoint," the main component of which was a limited series by writer Geoff Johns and artist Andy Kubert. I have not read the source material, so I won't be able to comment on how well it has been adapted.
Barry Allen, who is the speedy superhero known as The Flash, is lamenting the loss of his mother who died when he was a young boy. Screenwriter Jim Krieg compounds the tragedy by having her murdered as a result of a home-invasion burglary, and having Barry discover her body on his birthday no less. But Barry has little time to mourn this day due to a disturbance at The Flash Museum. Eventually, he gets caught in a trap set by Eobard Thawne, the 25th century villain known as Professor Zoom and Reverse-Flash, who as his name indicates has the same abilities as The Flash. Thawne wants The Flash dead and his plan would have worked had it not been for the arrival of some of The Flash's peers. Although captured, Thawne taunts The Flash, who runs off in response.
When next we see Barry, the world has changed and he's the only one who knows it. He no longer has The Flash's abilities, his former nemesis Captain Cold is a hero known as Citizen Cold, and, most importantly, his mother is alive. Unsure what to make of it, he seeks the one person who can help him, Batman. However, this Batman is not Bruce Wayne but a gun-shooting, vicious vigilante.
The other Justice League members have changed as well. World War Three has broken out between the Atlanteans, led by Aquaman, and the Amazons, led by Wonder Woman. Humans are caught in the middle as the warring parties lay waste to everything. Barry wonders why Superman hasn't gotten involved but Batman knows of no such being. Clues of Thawne's involvement begin to emerge. Barry figures the villain must have gone into the past and altered an event that created this new timeline, but what? And who can correct it now that he can't travel through time?
'Flashpoint Paradox' has a very interesting premise, but as the story progresses it makes less and less sense. Thawne's ultimate goal would have been accomplished if he hadn't kept making his presence known, but this appears partily done to misdirect the viewer. The heavy hand of the screenwriter is also felt once the twist is revealed. I went back to see if I had missed clues, but the viewer is given no hints of what happened. What doesn't make sense is why the alteration of one event would create a world without any heroes, other than Cyborg. The reasons for the absence of Superman and the appearance of a different Batman are clear, but there's no good explanation about the unheroic behavior of Aquaman and Wonder Woman that led to war. They come off more like gods of Greek and Roman mythology than the heroes they are.
Also, the resolution doesn't reset things as one would expect. Attentive viewers will notice slight changes between the beginning and the end scenes, but the movie doesn’t deal with them in any way, so not sure why the characters appear in yet another timeline. There are a lot of cameos, so DC fans will enjoy spotting familiar faces in unusual situations. Lastly, it's unfortunate that the big ideas in the story are problematic because some of the smaller ones are much more compelling, like the identity of the Joker, but they are dealt with much too briefly.
'Flashpoint Paradox' is agrim, violent tale that is likely the most violent DC Universe Animated Original Movie in the collection. Not only do many characters die, but director Jay Olivia and his animation team present the gory details. Viewers get to see blood spilled frequently as characters get shot, stabbed, and their bodies torn apart. While the ramifications of violence are presented, I was surprised by the extent in a Justice League movie. Olivia also made a number of other of bad choices, from overly muscular and bulky character design, particularly Superman and Aquaman, to frequent lens flare. I definitely wouldn't recommend this movie for children, and only mildly recommend it for adult comic-book fans who are more interested in action than heroes.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox' is a 50GB Region A Blu-ray disc housed in a blue keepcase along with a DVD and Ultaviolet offer. The disc starts with trailers for 'Man of Steel' and 'LEGO Batman The Movie: DC Super Heroes Unite'.
'Flashpoint Paradox' has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Primary colors are vibrant as expected for a animated comic book movie, and then toned down somewhat while in the new timeline. Blacks are very deep, almost crushing at times when other-Batman is amongst shadows and darkness.
Those familiar with the DCU movie series will recognize some problems with the video. While banding from light sources was much improved, it could still be seen in solid colors like Flash's red costume. Macroblocking also appears on occasion. For example, in Barry's jacket when he meets his mom and surprised to find her alive.
Elements such as sharpness, depth, and detail have been negatively affected by director's artistic choices, and almost had me picking an even lower score. Foreground objects were usually drawn with black lines to create edges on objects. Backgrounds were drawn intentionally soft, lacking in detail and limiting depth. Focus is intentionally softened at times for effect. Most notably, and at its worst, during a dream sequence when Barry sees a flashback of Aquaman and Wonder Woman meeting in this timeline. The visuals are so blurry it looks like something went wrong.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is a more satisfying experience. Right from the opening scene, cars can be heard racing by across the channels, suggesting an expansive space the soundtrack takes full advantage of throughout as the heroes and villains battle. A number of great big explosions occur as a result of the break-in at Flash Museum and the LFE delivers great oomph in support of them, and all the action. Even the scientifically inaccurate bomb exploding in space. Dialogue is always clear and understandable thanks to a well-balanced mix that offers a wide dynamic range.
Although these characters are much more violent than I am used to seeing them, the team that ultimately fails is the creative one. Plot problems are overlooked to rush to the next action sequence. Director Jay Olivia makes a number of bad directorial decisions that diminish the viewing experience as well as appearance of the Blu-ray's video. The quality of the audio and extras should help DC completists justify adding it to their collection.