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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/27/2015

All Ratings out of

Movie:

Video:

Audio:
1/2
Extras:


Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/26/2015

The only thing that comic book writers love more than killing off a character only to bring them back, is to retcon a series or individual. This involves the practice of re-inventing or re-imagining an important piece of information, such as how a character got their powers, or how a team was formed. This is scene as a way to keep the stories fresh and, from a business perspective, as a way to bring in new readers who may be intimidated by a story which goes back for decades. Justice League: War is a perfect example of this, as it told the origin of that famous team in a new way, as the characters were all strangers when the story began. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis continues this story, once again making everything old new again.

As Justice League: Throne of Atlantis opens, a submarine undergoes a mysterious attack. Cyborg (voiced by Shemar Moore) is asked to investigate, and what he finds causes him to call in the rest of the newly christened "Justice League" -- Batman (voiced by Jason O'Mara), Superman (voiced by Jerry O'Connell), Wonder Woman (voiced by Rosario Dawson), The Flash (voiced by Christopher Gorham), Green Lantern (voiced by Nathan Fillion), and Shazam (voiced by Sean Astin). It appears that the sub was attacked by people. Meanwhile, a man named Arthur Curry (voiced by Matt Lanter), is attempting to deal with the death of his father, which isn't helped by the fact that people keep attacking him. He's being watched by Mera (voiced by Sumalee Montano), a servant to Queen Atlanna (voiced by Sirena Irwin), the ruler of Atlantis. Her son, Orm (voiced by Sam Witmer), and his associate, Black Manta (voiced by Harry Lennix), are up to something which could threaten the planet, and it will take Arthur Curry learning who he really is to save the world.

First of all, let's talk about the animation here. I don't remember what Justice League: War looked like, but, as it was from a different director, I don't think it looked like this. This is far too anime-looking for me, as it features that distinct hazy glow around objects which is featured in anime. (I'm sure that there's a name for this, but as I'm not a fan, I don't know what it is.) To me, this approach makes things look blurry and it softens the detail. Director Ethan Spaulding also brings an anime-influenced look to some of the characters, some of whom are too skinny and angular, with sharp cheekbones. Having said that, the color palette is vibrant, but not overly bright, which helps to off-set the hazy look.

Once I got past that, I liked the story here. I knew from the cover art that the story concerned Aquaman, but I didn't realize that it was his origin tale. In this version, Aquaman is a half-breed who was raised on land by his human father, so he learns about his lineage just as we do. As noted above, the picks up where War left off and we see the "Justice League" still learning to be a team. While Green Lantern and Batman don't bicker as much here, we do get a healthy does of Green Lantern's odd views on life. We see that the group hasn't gotten used to Batman's mysterious ways and that Superman and Wonder Woman are clearly attracted to one another. The tone of the piece ranges from Shazam's immaturity to Cyborg's existential crisis with being more machine than man.

Again, I wasn't crazy about the look of Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, but I like the idea of seeing these familiar characters in a new light. I'm sure that some old school DC fans don't care for it, but, at this point, the Justice League has been formed and reformed so many times, does it matter. This is another feather in the DCU animated cap and I look forward to the next adventures of this group.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis does make Black Manta seem a little less badass than usual on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 16 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear -- the anime haze aside -- showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the blues and greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture shows a nice amount of depth at times, but the level of detail varies. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects work well during the action sequences, adding texture of the proceedings. The stereo effects help to feature sounds coming form off-screen and there are some nicely layered surround sound effects during the final fight.

The Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Blu-ray Disc offers a few extra features. "Villains of the Deep" (12 minutes) explores the Ocean Master and Black Manta characters, both of which are longtime foes of Aquaman, looking into their motivations, issues, and powers. "Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep" (30 minutes) is an in-depth piece in which Composer Frederik Wiedmann describes his approach to the music for the film and he introduces some of the unique instruments which he used. "Throne of Atlantis: 2014 NY Comic-Con Panel" (27 minutes) has voice-actor Matt Lanter and members of the creative team discussing the movie and fielding questions about the project. "From the DC Comics Vault" offers two episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, one episode of Aquaman, and one episode of Justice League Unlimited, all of which focus on Aquaman. The Disc also boasts previews and trailers for other DC animated features.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long