Movie Recommendation- Justice League: Doom, by Aaron Pinkston
This weekend opens one of the biggest superhero movies ever made. The Avengers features super team consisting of a bunch of characters not used to sharing the screen with anyone. But it’s not the only superhero team with a new film out.
Justice League: Doom, the newest film from DC Animation and filmmaker Lauren Montgomery, brings together the only group that could possibly rival the Avengers — all the great DC characters are involved: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter and others with less-known names. I’m not a comic fan (I don’t think I’ve read a comic not called Watchmen or Kick-Ass since I was a kid), but I’ve always loved these characters — I just don’t like to read. Over the past few years, I’ve expanded my viewings past the big budget blockbusters to the more modest straight-to-DVD animated films. Most are mediocre at best, like All-Star Superman or Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and others are pretty bad (I’m looking at you Thor: Tales of Asgard). Justice League: Doom is the best of the bunch by leaps.
Part of the film’s success is simply the joy of seeing all these characters together in a single story. No offense to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Spider Woman, etc. but they just don’t have the clout seen in the DC universe (the absence of Spidey helps, too). The film allows them to work plenty together, but the design of the narrative breaks them apart into separate stories and battles. The results are epic, giving each character proper screen time and their own stakes. If Batman and Superman were always in the scene, it would have been easy to overshadow some of the lesser characters, a mistake avoided.
The film’s plot is based on a JLA story called “Tower of Babel,” where a villain named Mirror Master hacks into the Batcomputer to steal Batman’s contingency plans on how to counteract every member of the Justice League in case someone goes rogue. Batman, being a pretty bright guy, did some pretty good research and the baddies have a pretty big leg up on the super team. There are a number of villains in the film, one to match each of the Justice League. I’m not familiar with most of them, really only Batman’s counterpart, Bane. Someone who is a bigger follower of the Justice League or the individuals comics may be able to speak to them, though none seem like supervillains.
Given a 1:1 ratio of heroes-to-villains, each is presented with a unique showdown. Each of profiles are interesting in their own right, many luring them into situations that end up being traps, using their superhero responsibility against them. A few prove really interest, such as Flash’s, which ends up like a strange mix of Saw and Speed. With six showdowns going on at once, it’s pretty easy to keep the story going forward.
Overall, I’m not as crazy about the animation here — I put it behind Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and the style seems to be similar to Batman: Year One. Really, it sort of looks like a lesser version of the Batman: The Animated Series, which is pretty hard to live up to. The voice acting, on the other hand, is stellar. Speaking of Batman: The Animated Series, Kevin Conroy revises his role as the Dark Knight. Tim Daly seems like an odd choice to play the Man of Steel, but he’s a longtime veteran in the role. Oh, and Nathan Fillion plays Green Lantern. Somewhere Ryan Reynolds is feeling ashamed.
Justice League: Doom is the best DVD animated film from either DC or Marvel I’ve come across. It moves quickly, delivers an interesting, action-packed story and is only 77 minutes long. If you are a fan of DC animation, superhero films or watched them as a kid and want to feel a little nostalgia, it is a release worth checking out.