By: Bob Marshall
Now the story goes that Batman (in secret) had a contingency plan to take down each super-powered member of the Justice League (Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash and the Martian Manhunter) without them knowing of course. Super villain Vandal Savage hires a member of each heroes rogues gallery, (Mettallo, Bane, Star Sapphire, Cheetah and Ma’alefa’ak) to take down the Justice League (including Batman – although they have their own plan to take him down) using the information held on the Bat-computer.
I don’t want to say too much about the film because I don’t want to do a spoiler filled review. I will say the film is very good, each hero is given a good amount of screen time and the necessary character moments to move the film forward, while satisfying each the fans of each character. I don’t think its a secret that the villains do take down the league pretty early on in the film, which is my only real negative point. The film isn’t long enough for the takedown of the Justice League to have a major impact. The plot moves on very quickly but its pretty much a minor nitpick, as I know they have a budget they have to stick too. Another minor nitpick would be that some of the villains were a weak choice in my opinion. i.e. Cheetah. On to the good points: Cyborg is integrated into the story extremely well and when I first heard he was going to be in it, I wonder why but it works. I won’t explain why, you’ll have to see it to find out. The opening scene with the Royal Flush Gang is a real treat and it was nice to see the Justice League have an opening show. Now one thing that does bug me about these films and the DCAU, is the way Batman is treated like a god. Having said that, this is one thing they get right in this film. Although the film centres on Batman’s contingency plan, he doesn’t have the answer for everything and in the end its a team effort that saves the day. Now onto the other things:
The animation was stellar. It had an anime tone, which in my opinion is a very good thing. I think out of all the DC animated movies, the designs of the characters in this film have to be my favourite of all. Everyone looks superb and as a huge Superman fan I am mostly pleased by the look of the Man of Steel.
This was a sort of reunion, I assume done in memory of the late Dwayne McDuffie. Tim Daly returns as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Michael Rosenbaum as the Flash (albeit this time as Barry Allen) and Carl Lumbly as the Martian Manhunter (and also as the villain Ma’alefa’ak). Phil Morris also reprises his role as Vandal Savage from Justice League. It’s no surprise that they are all as good as ever. Bumper Robinson as Cyborg I’m unsure about, I’ll admit I can’t really put a voice to Cyborg so I think maybe that’s why I’m unsure. Nathan Fillion reprises his role as the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) from Green Lantern Emerald Knights and is fantastic; I heard he’d recorded his voice work on his own and you can’t tell at all, it all blends in very well. My biggest surprise was David Kauffman reprising his role as Jimmy Olsen from Superman the Animated Series. It was only a cameo but was such a nice treat. All the other voice roles were fine but I didn’t care so much for Mettallo’s voice.
The film looked fantastic in High Definition and the sound was incredible. I had to turn my surround sound down really far as it was so loud (but clear).
A League of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story – this was an emotional documentary on a what appeared to be a great intelligent man who provided so much entertainment through comics and animation. R.I.P Dwayne.
Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA – This was an interesting documentary more about the Tower of Babel comics story than the animated film and it even shows a few comparisons to Watchmen, very entertaining.
Preview of DC Universe’s Next Animated Original Movie Superman vs the Elite – I’m looking forward to this. It’s fantastic that George Newbern is reprising his role of Superman. This sneak peak doesn’t go in depth about the other voice actors, instead it focuses on the comic’s story .
Cyborg: His Time has Come – A short doc on how the character of Cyborg has grown throughout the years from a Teen Titan to a main member of the Justice League. Its interesting but very short.
Other than that we get 2 bonus cartoon (Justice League episodes Wild Cards parts 1 and 2), a digital comic of Tower of Babel and some trailers.
All in all I have to say this has been my favourite of all the DC Universe animated movies, right up there with All Star Superman, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Green Lantern: First Flight and Superman Batman: Public Enemies for me. Also, I thought it was much better than Crisis on Two Earths and having the original voice cast back (sort of) made it feel more familiar than that one. This really helped to buy into the film.
Overall Grade: 10/10