Just saw it as well and . . . . WOW that was bad. There were some elements I liked about it, but it was almost everything I disliked about the Nu-52 distilled into animated form. Warning, heavy spoilers to follow.
• The action could be quite entertaining at times. You’d get some genuinely fun moments like Batman dodging and judo-throwing Parademons around, and when they stop they see that they’ve all got explosives on them. Sometimes we’d get to see multiple heroes using teamwork, and that was cool.
• There were a couple of funny moments here and there. Hal had maybe one or two funny lines, and sometimes Cyborg and Shazam’s interactions reminded me of Vic and Beast Boy/Changeling’s interactions from the old Titans days.
• The animation was generally very smooth, fluid and polished. On a purely visual level, the film was rock solid.
• Darkseid was a genuine threat. I liked that he was HUGE, easily 10 or 15 feet tall, this giant dark god the heroes couldn’t face one-on-one. In some ways it felt like a return to the Superman: TAS Darkseid who Superman could not defeat straight up, before Justice League and Justice League Unlimited made him into Superman’s punching bag.
• The film actually showcased what a Superman vs Batman fight should look like if Batman didn’t have one-sided prep-time. Bruce was able to avoid Superman for a while, constantly moving, hitting him with weapon after weapon, keeping out of Superman’s way, but ultimately unable to harm him. Superman eventually gets the better of him, and it makes sense, because nothing in Batman’s normal arsenal should really do much to Superman at this point.
• This basically felt like an attempt to emulate the feel of Marvel’s Avengers film, but done through a ‘Man of Steel’ lens and directed by Michael Bay. Like the Avengers film, it involves an alien invasion, a collection of heroes that don’t get along with each other, superheroes fighting each other, culminating in a big fight scene in a city that requires the heroes to work together to save the day, and the closing of a portal in order to win. Unlike the Avengers, the heroes are all unlikable, there is very little in the way of actual character growth, there’s even less in the way of genuinely witty dialogue, the pacing is all over the map, etc. Like Man of Steel, it’s about heroes that are often dark and depressed in a world that hates and fears them, has fight scenes that outstay their welcome, and involves so much collateral damage that you wonder if the city will ever recover. And like Man of Steel, it includes a scene of Superman snapping someone’s neck.
• Almost all of the characters were all unlikable for the most part. The only marginally likable ones were Batman, Cyborg and the Flash. Bruce was the level headed one actually focused on trying to get everyone to work together and save the day. Cyborg genuinely had stuff to complain about and likewise was focused on saving the day. The Flash . . . . well, he was in this so little and the scenes he was involved in were not offensive in any way. Everyone else . . . well, they feel like the Nu-52 versions of the characters. Both Superman and Wonder Woman are way to fight happy, and both with more than a little arrogance to them. Wonder Woman came off as an entitled princess, while Superman had none of his nobility or charisma, just basically wanting to punch stuff. Hal Jordan was a cocky, arrogant bastard who WOULD NOT SHUT UP. Shazam was the annoying asshole from the Nu-52, only now with a side order of ‘I’m also a thief’ and ‘I’m cocky as Hell’, just in case he wasn’t unlikable enough. Darkseid is no longer a clever scheming villain, he’s just a generic conqueror who’s too physically strong for any one hero.
• The voice acting ranged from okay to bad. Batman was okay, but at points sounded more ‘bored’ than intimidating. I couldn’t understand what Darkseid was saying half the time, so it’s fortunate that he only had about 3 lines. Cyborg was solid. Superman’s was okay-ish, but he came off so smarmy and cocky as to be unlikable. Flash was okay, but he didn’t have much in the way of dialogue either. And nearly everything that Green Lantern, Wonder Woman or Shazam said made me die a little inside. Which is a shame because Hal Jordan is pretty much the main character of the movie right along with Batman.
• The dialogue ranged from ‘okay but underwhelming’ to ‘cringe worthy’. Wonder Woman and Hal’s were particularly bad, with Shazam’s being a close runner up. What really got annoying was the cursing. I’m no prude, but watching these icons just randomly yelling out ‘crap!’ and ‘kick his ass!’ and such in animated format was just kind of jarring. It was like watching a little kid try to be taken more seriously by having a foul mouth.
• The action had good moments, but it often just dragged on and on. There was just no room to breathe, no little moments to let the characters interact and get to know each other, none of the meaningful scenes that made Avengers stand out. It was just extended action sequences with occasional moments of talking and scenes to move the plot along. And what’s worse is that it starts to feel repetitive after a while.
• The character designs. Batman and Flash looked alright, but the rest of the League looked awful to various degrees. Wonder Woman has all of these extra bits of blue and silver added to her costume that is just distracting. Cyborg look like something out of a bad anime, the designs having a very Evangellion look them. All of the glowing green lines on Green Lantern's outfit just look stupid. Superman and Shazam are both sporting their Nu-52 looks, which is reason enough by themselves. Darkseid . . . I liked that he was big and imposing, but all of that gold just ruined his look.
• This is basically the Batman/Green Lantern show, guest staring Superman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg, with special guest appearances by the Flash and Shazam. If Hal and Bat’s interactions were actually entertaining, that might not be so bad, but given Bruce is fairly bland and Green Lantern is a grating tool, it doesn’t help much.
• This is not the second film to include a scene of Superman snapping someone’s neck. Mind control or not, this is not something Superman should be doing, and in older versions of the character, would have been what snapped him out of the trance.
• There are just moments of pure stupidity. Green Lantern picks a fight with Superman for no reason. Wonder Woman responds to a crowd protesting against her by lassoing a guy and embarrassing him. She threatens an ice cream man with her sword to get her and a little girl some ice cream, and then points her sword at him again to say ‘thanks’. Everything that comes out of Shazam’s mouth sounds like the kind of inane dialogue an adult thinks a kid would say.
• Batman’s reasons for trusting Hal was because they were the only two ‘normal’ people there. Despite Hal being a complete douche bag the entire movie, despite the Flash being much more level headed and team oriented, despite Cyborg actually contributing to their understanding of the battle, it’s the least likable version of Hal Jordan that Batman trusts.
• It might just be me as an old schooler, but there’s something kind of uncomfortable about watching Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the hero-formerly-known-as-Captain-Marvel all decide that the best way of defeating a villain is to BLIND HIM. By shoving pointy metal into his eyes. That’s just . . . DAMN . . .
• A mid-credits teaser. Seriously. They gave this a mid-credits teaser to sequel bait us. I hope to God they don’t try to sequel this thing out, because this is the last time I want to see this version of these characters.
Simply Put . . .
. . . this movie was bad. Not Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen or Transformers: Dark of the Moon bad, but definitely a well below average action movie made worse for fans of these characters. Would not recommend.
On a purely personal note, this is probably the only animated portrayal of Captain Marvel that I’ve genuinely hated. Even with Flashpoint, Captain Thunder wasn’t so much bad as he just didn’t have much of anything to do, and even though I felt he was beaten too easily and was infuriated by Billy’s death, the character himself didn’t make me mad.
This tho? I have no problem calling this version of the character ‘Shazam’, because he is everything Captain Marvel isn’t suppose to be. This Billy Batson is a lying thief, sneaking into a sports arena, lying to get past the ticket counter, stealing Vic Stone’s football jersey, and being proud of himself for doing so. He’s dismissive of his foster siblings, who show him genuine compassion and empathy, treating them like morons. He’s cocky to the point of arrogance, yet comes of mind-numbingly simple minded when he’s powered up.
As Shazam, I still hate the Nu-52 hooded wizard look, though this was less painful to look at generally. However, I hated that they basically turned him into a lightning blaster. One thing I loved about Captain Marvel was that he was one of the last pure flying bricks around. He doesn’t need to be shooting bolts of lightning to be cool. He should be the guy in the thick of things punching bad guys, doing hand claps, creating shock waves, doing all of those fun Silver Age brick tricks. The lightning charged punches I kind of liked, as it made for an interesting visual and it’s something that they’ve toyed with in the comics. But him shooting lightning from his hands is just wrong on so many levels. It basically makes him into even more of a Superman clone, as they’re now both flying bricks with long capes, with alternate coloring on their boots, belt and wrists, who can fly, are strong, fast and tough, and have a ranged attack. They even modified his lightning emblem to make it look more like Superman’s S-Shield. No Wisdom of Solomon, none of his other abilities, he’s just a strong, fast, flying guy that shoots lightning. It’s like they literally sucked all the magic out of the character.