We've said it before and we'll say it again: While DC Comics (through its
studio parent, Warner Bros. Pictures) has had a difficult time launching its
collection of superheroes besides Superman and Batman onto the big screen, its
direct-to-home-video arm of DC Universe Animated Original Movies has been doing
the job very nicely, albeit on a smaller scale. The 13th and latest in the
series, "Justice League: Doom," maintains the
general high quality of the series while delivering what could be its most epic
Loosely based on Mark Waid's "Tower of Babel" story line than ran in DC's
"JLA" comic book in 2000, the film follows a plot by the Legion of Doom to take
down each individual member of the Justice League by implementing plans
developed by Batman himself (Kevin Conroy) to neutralize each member of the
League in case any of them go "rogue." With each member of the League
immobilized, the Legion -- led by Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) -- is free to
launch an operation that will eradicate most of humanity from the world.
With its two grand teams of superheroes and villains, "Justice League: Doom"
strives for an epic sweep and often achieves it. The movie takes a lot of
liberties with Waid's story (making Savage the lead villain instead of Ra's al
Ghul, for instance), but the cross-cutting between each hero's downfall is as
cinematic as it gets, and the final battle is immense and satisfying. The clash
between Batman and Bane (Carlos Alazraqui) is also
surprisingly violent, not to mention a kind of neat little preview of what we'll
see this summer in "The Dark Knight Rises."
The movie acts as a reunion of sorts for many veteran voice actors of the DC
Universe: In addition to Conroy as Batman, we also get Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Tim Daly as Superman and Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman,
along with Michael Rosenbaum as the Flash, Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter and
Bumper Robinson as the newest member
of the League, Cyborg (Aquaman is, sadly, absent this time). Conroy, Daly and
Fillion are comfortable in their roles at this point and their interaction both
effortless and entertaining.
There's plenty of action and superhero drama in the film, the latter
especially evident in the tense scenes between Batman and the rest of the League
when they discover that he's been keeping secret files on them. Much of the
story's sophistication is thanks to the script by Dwayne McDuffie, the acclaimed
and pioneering comics and animation writer who, sadly, died at the age of 49 in
February 2011. "Justice League: Doom" was McDuffie's final work and stands as a
bittersweet tribute to his many talents.
A moving 36-minute documentary on McDuffie's life and career is included as
one of the bonus features on the Blu-ray, and it's a must-see for anyone
interested in both a career in writing and the evolving role of
African-Americans in comic books. Also included on the disc are a featurette on
Cyborg, a second featurette on Batman's strained relationship with the JLA, two
episodes from the "Justice League" animated series (co-written by McDuffie) and
a preview of the next DC Universe animated movie, "Superman vs. the Elite."
Not every entry in the DC Universe series of films has been top-notch, but
they do have consistent production and storytelling values and continue to grow
in overall quality, with titles like "Batman: Under the Red Hood" and "All-Star
Superman" leading the way. "Justice League: Doom" can proudly take its place
alongside others on the series' top shelf, showing that a DC team-up movie is
possible -- even if it's not live-action yet.
Geeking Out On...J.J. Abrams Directing 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars'
J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek Into Darkness' is set to open this week, then begins the task of directing a new 'Star Wars' film for 2015. Check out this episode where Kurt argues why he's the man for the job and how it's enough already about the lens flares. Also, a few other "double dippers" in the dueling franchises as well as a few others.