You know a Justice League animated movie is more than a little different when in the first 6 minutes two people get shot in the face, one covering a main character’s face in weird maroon colored blood. This is the odd duck that is Justice League: The New Frontier.
One of the first things you will notice about the film is its art style, since the movie is set in the 1950’s every super hero is drawn and animated to look like their character design from that era, it’s actually quite a sight to behold. Admittedly the animation never quite realizes the super stylized cover art work, but the film still matches the desired aesthetic. The opening even gets me in the mood for some retro movie action, emulating cheesy 1950/60’s animated visual flair.
The setting matches the time period well. Featuring some background representation of the red scare, the space race, and the Korean War. The setting is actually quite oppressive and rather enthralling I would like to see more of it and the 1950’s reaction to the presence of super heroes (hint there’s one line about the Flash that is absolutely perfect), however it would probably turn into the DC equivalent of Marvel Civil War, and no one wants that.
The story is essentially a combination of origin stories for Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and the league as a whole, and it’s actually quite compelling.
The Manhunters story in particular is captivating from his opening scene, and following his attempt to live an everyday life, by oddly enough imitating Humphrey Bogart.
Green Lantern’s scenes are good too, but they kinda start to drag after a certain length. As you just want him to take on the mantle. You never really lose empathy with him, but after a certain point in the movie his plot starts to feel long. Other than that he’s pretty awesome.
The Villain of the movie is a mysterious being known as The Centre. Let’s just say it involves cults, and epic voice acting from Keith David. Unfortunately The Centre never really gets it’s due over the course of the movie, mostly due to the short run time, and the over abundance of plot items on the menu. This really could have been an amazing villain if it only had more time to develop and grow as a villain, but alas he doesn’t and in a sense the story’s legs are undercut a bit.
The rest of the characters are fun, and good. Wonder Woman is absolutely awesome even if she does have little screen time, in the first ten minutes you love her character. As for Superman he of course bows out of the story quickly for the sake dramatic tension, and so he just feels like a waste of time. The Human ensemble is surprisingly strong and plays off the heroes effectively. I would like to mention The Lantern’s girl friend Carol Ferris as a standout performance, frankly when both she and Hal Jordon are on screen I forget I’m watching a Justice League flick instead of a Green Lantern Film.
The Music and voice acting are both good, but aren’t overly amazing. Of course there are some standouts, such as Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, and Keith David as the aforementioned Centre and the music for the opening credits is dark and spooky, but I don’t know I just feel a little underwhelmed with it all. Nothing is bad, everything is in fact above average, but it just didn’t stun me as much as the rest of the film.
Really, Justice League: The New Frontier would have been well served with an additional fifteen minutes to build up the villain a bit more, but this is a small complaint. The movie is dark without going into the laughable edgy genre. The film is an excellent piece of work, and I can recommend it easily.
JL: TNF is available from Warner Bros. Home Media for Blu-ray, and DVD.
I found the Blu-ray for like fifteen dollars at Wal-mart