Wednesday, February 20, 2008

DVD Review: "Justice League - The New Frontier"

The next installment of the DC universe original animated movies soars onto shelves when Warner Home Video releases- Justice League: The New Frontier on February 26, 2008, and let me be the first to tell you it is pretty darn good. At the end of this review I will tell you how 2 lucky winners will get their very own copy of this DVD.

Normally, I'm a pure Marvel fan, but right now I will confess my secret fan-boy craving for The Flash and sometimes Green Lantern. This DVD had a treat for me with those two characters being featured, so I gave it a chance, and I was not let down.

The story and the artwork on this film are superb. The artwork had that classic 50s feel to it but at the same time meeting with today's High Definition standards. The scenery was complex and beautifully drawn. The same goes for the heroes. Not your primary colors only scheme here, this film really captured the colors of the costumes and even kept them toned down so as not to have that campiness that comic book heroes can have. (Remember the 60s Batman TV series? 'Nuff Said.) It also manages to be dark but not too dark like, say for instance the Spawn animated series. There are moments like when Hal Jordan (soon to be Green Lantern) kills a Korean soldier. The blood does splatter but the moment passes and the scene is not dwelt upon. But I'm starting to give away some of the story so let me give you some more background before the synopsis.

This movie is inspired by the best-selling graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and produced by the multiple Emmy(r) award winning animation legend, Bruce Timm, The New Frontier is the epic tale of the founding of the Justice League. Superman, Batman, The Flash and Wonder Woman are all here of course, and so are Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter whose incredible origins are told. Strangers at first, these very different heroes must overcome fear and suspicion to forge an alliance against a monster so formidable, even the mighty Superman cannot stop it. If they fail, our entire planet will be "cleansed" of humanity.

The graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke re-envisioned the DC heroes as getting their start in the 50s in the height of "The Communist Scare," "McCarthyism" and the end of the Korean War. This movie, written by Stan Berkowitz captures that idea and really punches home the idea that the heroes have other things to worry about other than just fighting crime. For instance, The Flash wears a RED is for commies. So as you can see suspicion can be a formidable foe especially if one wears a mask.
It is 1953, and the US is coming off yet another war, and the start of the cold war. The Justice Society has been disbanded, with members hunted by the government in an era of McCarthyism. People are suspicious of each other and their motives. Even the super heroes question what is right and wrong.

Despite all the turmoil, heroes like Batman work underground as a mysterious cult envelopes the world and clues about something called, "The Centre" may spell doom for mankind. Along the way, characters such as Hal Jordan, John Jones - the Martian Manhunter, Flash trying to fight off this unknown enemy.
A scientist tries to make contact with what could be life on Mars; instead he beams back John Jones, a real live Martian. The scientist dies of heart failure due to the shock and John Jones takes on his identity and others before settling on that of a detective.

Batman is seen as suspicious by the public and unknowingly frightens children. When this secret is revealed to him, he takes on a young crime-fighting ward known as Robin.

The Green Lantern Corps, who have been fighting "The Centre" across the galaxy, give Hal Jordan a ring so he may help join the fight, thus becoming the Green Lantern.

Many more heroes are revealed throughout the movie including some Golden age heroes. It was actually fun to sit and try to identify the many heroes.
One final note about the film itself...HOLY ENSEMBLE CAST, BATMAN. The actors voicing the heroes are just as great as the heroes themselves. One of my favorite actors Miguel Ferrer is the voice of John Jones (btw, in the comics the name was Jon Jonnz) the Martian Manhunter, David Borreanz (you know, Angel the vampire) is Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Neal Patrick Harris (yes Doogie Houser, will he ever not be Doogie?) is Barry Allen/The Flash, John Heard is Ace Morgan, Lucy Lawless is Wonder Woman, Kyle MacLachlan is Clark Kent/Superman, Joe Mantegna makes an appearance as a crooner, Kyra Sedgwick is Lois Lane and Brooke Shields is Carol Ferris.

Now let's talk a bit about the DVD extras, there's one really cool feature called "Super Heroes United!" this features a great comprehensive history of the DC comics universe. There's even some mention of Marvel comics and the world's greatest comic hero creator Stan Lee makes his appearance, as well as Fantastic Four creator Marv Wolfman. Oh yeah and all the big names from DC as well. So you can see it's clearly bi-partisan comics in action.
The double disc set has even more extras like; "The Legion of Doom-The Pathology of a Super-Villain," "Comic Book Commentary" pays homage to the fans of the New Frontier books and Justice League Unlimited animated series bonus episodes.

This DVD is a must have for any comics fan...even Marvel fans. I sat with my 7 year old son and watched this movie and we had a blast watching the great heroes in some great action. By the way the Centre is one really cool creature...Superman cannot defeat this massive villain.

Okay now for the part some of you have been mean waiting for. So do you want to win your very own copy? It's easy and maybe fun. I will have 2 winners, so there will be two contests.

Contest 1 is what I like to call "Share the Joy/Link." All you have to do is repost the link to this review in as many places you can think of, blogs, bulletin boards, and MySpace comments, anywhere. Once you have done that email me and let me know you have done so and provide me with the links so that I can verify the posting. The person with the most shared links is the winner of the first contest.

Contest 2 is a random drawing. I will place the names of all the people who comment on this review into a hat and draw out...better yet I'll have my son draw out a name and I will contact you to let you know you won.

So there you have it 2 contests, 2 winners.
Good Luck!!

The drawing will be held on the date the DVD is released February 26, 2008
Winners will be notified no later than February 29th, 2008.

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posted by Gil T. @ 3:00 AM Comments: 3