By Davey Nieves
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is the animated film follow up to last year’s Justice League: War that introduced the New 52 to DC Animation. The last few movies have been a roller coaster of quality. Flashpoint Paradox was excellent while War and Assault on Arkham suffered from execution problems. While the film has a few standout moments Justice League: TOA doesn’t quite parallel the emotional strength of its Geoff Johns Aquaman source material.
Directed by Ethan Spaulding, the film blends two of Johns early New 52 Aquaman arcs as the audience is presented the origin of Arthur Curry. Then we shift to the mysteries of the deep and totalitarianism of Orm (Ocean Master) as he attempts to wage war on the surface world. Also dealing with the fallout from the War film are the members of the Justice League. We have to continue to see them come together as a team because apparently Darkseid’s invasion just wasn’t enough of a reason to form on a regular basis. The team crosses paths with Atlantis and the brooding enigma that is Aquaman when weapons of mass destruction are stolen from an underwater military submarine. Along the way to recovering the missiles, the league must find Arthur Curry to avoid an all out war between Atlantis and the surface world.
Where ToA stumbles isn’t so much in the execution but in the little things that you can’t ignore. Not following the books is understandable. Building the DC Animated into its own universe is a great way to create a unique identity for the brand. Plus, I’ve always been of the mindset: why make something where the intended audience already knows what’s going to happen next. That being said, ToA has an overall compacted feeling. It rushes through so much of its material causing it to feel diluted and unnecessary. The Superman/Wonder Woman relationship, Cyborg’s coming to terms with being more machine than man; it all could have been better played with or at the very least given more screen time.
Jason O’Mara, Christopher Gorham, Shemar Moore and Sean Astin return as Batman, The Flash, Cyborg and Shazam. Joining them are Jerry O’Connell, Rosario Dawson, and Sumalee Montano as Superman, Wonder Woman and Mera. Voice acting performances feel a bit unbalanced due to what seems like bad writing. Nathan Fillion has always been a great Hal Jordan but here the performance is so short that he never really gets a moment. Which is true of almost the entire cast and a big problem for having Justice League on the box art. Rosario Dawson’s voicing of Wonder Woman was superb and the film could have used more of it. Most of the weight was carried by Matt Lanter voicing Aquaman whom on his own turned in an adequate performance. Though that isn’t what you want out of a Ferrari or the title character of your movie.
Justice League has some things that did land on target. The animation is as crisp as any of the better-animated movies like Under the Red Hood and Flashpoint. Where animation excels even beyond film is in the action and this movie has some great scenes like the tidal wave and VR submarine reenactment. One thing that the film did well more so than most recent DC Animated movies is the acting drawn into the characters. Eye movements, twitches, and the fluidity of there movement in battle all surpass previous entries. Visually, everything just clicks on this movie. The credits scene also raises some questions because I’m curious to hear what it leads to since the next films are based on Court of Owls, and an original story by Bruce Timm called Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Both of which are set for 2015 releases.
Ultimately Justice League Throne of Atlantis probably suffers more from its scheduling than anything else. So many of its moving parts feel rushed and uncoordinated that it doesn’t serve the tremendous material it came from. My advice, rent it or watch it once on your favorite digital platform.
Justice League Throne of Atlantis is available now on Digital HD and on Blu-Ray and DVD January 27, 2015.
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