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Justice League: Doom (2012)
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/28/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/27/2012
Here's a question for you; Who is more talented -- movie screenwriters or comic book writers? The answer is, neither -- they are each talented in their own realm. The important thing to remember is that while both are writing a story for a visual medium, the practices do differ and those differences should be respected. For years I've argued that when a movie based on a comic book character is being made, the filmmakers should simply adapt a pre-existing comic boom story. Not only does this save time and energy, it defers to the experts when making a project of this sort. The powers that be behind the DC Universe animated movies understand this concept and they bring us a shining example with Justice League: Doom.
Justice League: Doom opens with the Justice League of America -- Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy), Superman (voiced by Tim Daly), Wonder Woman (voiced by Susan Eisenberg), The Flash (voiced by Michael Rosenbaum), Green Lantern (voiced by Nathan Fillion), Martian Manhunter (voiced by Carl Lumbly), with some assistance by Teen Titans alum Cyborg (voiced by Bumper Robinson) -- foiling a jewel heist by a gang who all look like playing cards. What the group don't realize is that this robbery was used as a diversion to kick off a diabolical plan by Vandal Savage (voiced by Phil Morris). Savage gathers a group of super villains -- Cheetah (voiced by Claudia Black), Bane (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui), Metallo (voiced by Paul Blackthorne), Star Sapphire (voiced by Olivia D'Abo), and Mirror Master (voiced by Alexis Denisof) -- in his headquarter in the Louisiana bayou. He explains that where, in the past, this group has failed fighting their arch-nemeses in the Justice League one-by-one, they will succeed when they attack in a strategic pattern. And his plan works, each member of the Justice League is attacked by a member of this "Legion of Doom" and the coordinated assault sees shocking results. Only Batman is able to gather his wits around him and discover that a dreaded safe-guard has come into play.
Justice League: Doom is the latest in on-going series of direct-to-home video animated movies from DC Comics and Warner Home Video. And like several others before them, includingAll-Star Superman and Batman: Under the Red Hood, this one is based on a pre-existing comic book story. Taken from a Justice League of America story arc entitled "Tower of Babel", this adaptation changes a few things, but the story is essentially intact. The bottom-line is that someone at DC and Warner recognized that this story would make a good movie. Every time I review one of these DC titles, I always mention that I'm more of a Marvel Comics guy, but when it comes to animated titles, DC gets the edge as they aren't afraid to adapt a comic story. (Although, Marvel is getting in on this as well, as evidenced by Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers.)
As for the movie itself, Justice League: Doom is pretty good. And it's even better if you don't know the plot twist, which was given away in the press release which I got announcing the title. I won't give the twist away, but it is a good one. The first half of the movie does suffer from the fact that the Justice League are all involved in separate fights. Yes, these scenes are essential to Savage's plan, but the movie really gels when the team is brought together and told what they need to do to stop the Legion of Doom. Given that, it is interesting to see how each hero combats with their villain. Within this plot, there is a nice amount of drama, as there is dissention in the ranks amongst the Justice League. In fact, Justice League: Doom is one of the more serious entries in this series. While we get the usual levity from The Flash, the rest of the story is very straight-faced, as we watch these heroes pushed to the brink. As usual, Batman is portrayed as much more of a sociopath here than he is in the theatrical Batman movies.
Adapted by the late comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie, Justice League: Doom shows what can be done when the comic book medium is taken seriously. Attention is paid to both the story and the art, resulting in a satisfying action movie. There are some flaws in the story and the ending is a bit convenient, but the plot twist and the drama make it worth checking out.
Justice League: Doom offers a great reference to Super Friends on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 18 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, as one would hope for from an animated movie, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The animation is nicely detailed, showing no stuttering or jagged lines in the drawings. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround and subwoofer effects are nicely done and really add to the action scenes. These effects show good detail and are well-placed in the speakers. The subwoofer effects bring the punches and explosions to life.
The Justice League: Doom Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY which features Geoff Johns of DC Comics and Mike Carlin of DC Entertainment. "A League of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story" (37 minutes) is a documentary about the late writer. Through interviews with his widow, friends, and colleagues from the world of comics, we get a profile of his work and his legacy. "Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA" (19 minutes) takes an intellectual look at the story in the film, analyzing the idea that there must be rules and safeguards to keep anyone with power in-check. This is explored through comments from individuals from the world of comic book and also psychology professors. "Cyborg: His Time Has Come" (6 minutes) explores the history of the character and looks at how he fits into the Justice League. We get two episodes from the Justice League Unlimited TV show: "Wild Cards" Parts 1 & 2. "DC Digital Comic Book: Tower of Babel" gives us some pages from a comic which inspired Justice League: Doom. Finally, we have a sneak peek of Superman vs. The Elite, an upcoming DC animated project.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long