Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Justice League: Doom

DC Comics latest animated feature adapts Mark Waid's "Tower of Babel" and pieces of Alex Ross and Jim Krueger's Justice as a new straight-to-DVD feature. The plot of the film features Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) putting together a Legion of Doom to take apart the Justice League using contingency plans stolen from Batman (Kevin Conroy).

As Batman finds himself blindsided by Bane (Carlos Alazraqui), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), Superman (Tim Daly), the Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly), the Flash (Michael Rosenbaum), and Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) all find themselves taken completely out of action by Cheetah (Claudia Black), Metallo (Paul Blackthorne), Ma'alefa'ak (Lumbly), Mirror Master (Alexis Denisof), and Star Sapphire (Olivia d'Abo). It's the unplanned for appearance of Cyborg (Bumper Robinson) who helps throw a wrench into the plan and save the day.

Most of the Justice League are voiced by the actors who did the characters on Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series, and Superman: The Animated Series. One of the more interesting choices is to use Nathan Fillion for Hal Jordan (returning to the role he did in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights) instead of Kyle Rayner (who unfortunately appeared in Waid's original story) or John Stewart (the Green Lantern from Justice League).

The choice to bring back voice actors from Justice League Unlimited works well but it does create a slight disconnect because the look of some of these characters is quite different from the original show (Martian Manhunter particularly). There's also the odd choice to cast Rosenbaum, who voiced Wally West on Justice League, as the voice of Barry Allen. It takes a little while for him to feel comfortable doing a far less jokey version of the character. There's no reason why, if they wanted to use Rosenbaum, he couldn't have voiced Wally instead or cast a different actor for Barry.

The animation style and character design uses a similar (although slightly more polished) look to Young Justice. I'm not a huge fan of this design. It's not bad by any means, but the characters look too lanky in many of the full body shots. In several shots Wonder Woman looks to be the largest and most imposing Justice Leaguer (and I'm not sure this was done by design).

The methods in which the various Leaguers are taken down are well thought-out, and in several cases quite brutal. This helps sell the League's frustration at Batman at the end of the film after the threat has been addressed. The movie may not quite be the success of Batman: Under the Red Hood or Justice League: New Frontier, but it's still and easy recommendation for fans of DC Animation.

The Blu-ray comes with audio commentary by Geoff Johns and Mike Carlin, a sneak peak at Superman vs. The Elite, two Justice League Unlimited cartoons (Wild Cards Part 1 & Part 2), a digital comic sneak peak at "Tower of Babel," and featurettes on Cyborg, Batman's role in the JLA and adapting "Tower of Babel" for the film. The Blu-ray's most interesting extra is a half-hour documentary on Dwayne McDuffie, who died shortly after finishing the script for the film, featuring memories from longtime friends and co-workers.

[Warner Home Video, Blu-ray $24.98 / DVD $19.98]

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