The latest in Warner Brothers and DC's straight to video films has landed and it's enjoyable. Flawed, but enjoyable. First, lets run through what the films did right because it did a lot of things right.
The first thing that was done right was setting up a different timeline and starting things off with a familiar planet exploding and then turning things on their heads. In case you haven't already heard, Jor-El is not Superman's biological father. Instead Zod sire's his birth in a scene filled with not so subtle imagery. This changes the entire Superman mythos and this is further pushed when he is found by Spanish speaking immigrants.
Batman is equally changed by having him be Kirk Langstrom instead of Bruce Wayne. His origin is slightly different to say the least. In Gods and Monsters, Batman is an actual vampire who needs to feed on blood to sustain him.
"This Justice League's morality is ambiguous"
Wonder Woman is also radically changed by having Bekka ,wife of the New God Orion, take up the mantle. Her change along with the others delivers a Justice League unlike any other seen before. Yes, alternate Justice Leagues have been featured in the past, but they are usually variations of the long popular characters like with the Crime Syndicate. This Justice League's morality is ambiguous. They are not not afraid to get rough and spill a little blood to get the job done.
What is this job? To secure peace and work under the orders of the President of the United States. A state sponsored task force capable of turning on the people who give them their orders. This isn't lost on the population and the Justice League faces constant protests against their existence as people and an organization
"Gods and Monsters manages to constantly defy expectations"
Much of the film is filled with moments of shock. Gods and Monsters manages to constantly defy expectations. Animated super hero films have a tendency to always have things work out. The hero arriving at the right time, a character barely dodging an attack. Don't expect that here. It's a fairly grim affair in Gods and Monsters. Superman's and Batman's motivations are fairly believable and you accept why they act and behave the way that they do.
"God's and Monsters tries too hard at times to be "mature" with unnaturally placed swearing"
That being said, the film has many small flaws. The film is aimed at an older and more mature audience and doesn't hold back too much on the language and violence. However, God's and Monsters tries too hard at times to be "mature" with unnaturally placed swearing. Not to mention that the film also tries too hard to be the opposite of a regular episode of Justice League Unlimited. I can't go into too many details without spoiling some things, but trust me. It stands out. It sometimes comes off aiming to be edgy for kids rather than a mature film aimed at an older audience. You don't have to throw in random curse words to be mature. There's also how the team is formed. We have nothing to go on. We get a quick scene with Batman explaining how he and Superman met, but nothing about Wonder Woman. We get her backstory about why she left her world , but nothing beyond that. Now, there are companion animated shorts called Justice League Gods and Monsters Chronicles , but a film should be able to stand on its own.
Remember how Superman was raised by Spanish speaking immigrants? Well, Superman drops in random political terms in Spanish. Which Spanish speakers aren't prone to do. I only mention it because it's something that pops up quite frequently in DC's animated series'. You'd think there would be one person on staff to say " Hey, Spanish speakers don't talk like that". It's a small gripe and not an issue most people will have. The other concern comes with the technical execution. There are several moments where the lip syncing doesn't match up and the animation tends to be very stiff in some areas. Not only that, but there are also some issues with perspective and proportions when it comes to the characters.
That and even though I'm a huge fan of Bruce Timm who wrote this and did the art for many classics like Batman the Animated Series, some of the characters look identical to one another. That's not to say the film is incompetent, but it does feel like it was made on a budget.
Having said all of that, Justice League Gods and Monsters manages to be an entertaining, but flawed romp. Would I used the word "romp" if it wasn't?
We give Justice League Gods and Monsters a B-