|Available at Amazon.com|
Everyone appears to be having troubles in the world today including Flash who simply wants to do good deeds and help the innocent, but they have turned against him. In order to keep those he loves safe, he must give up his suit and helpfulness. Hal Jordan (who has not yet become the Green Lantern) is dealing with issues of his own. His dream is to step out of the cockpit of regular fighter jets and into the seats of rockets taking him to the stars. Getting there is a long way away though, but he is determined. Falling into the right company may get him his wish, but he will end up seeing much more then the stars when Mars is their destined target. Finally there is J’onn J’onzz who is known to many as the shape-shifting Martian Manhunter. He has found his way onto Earth by no means of his own, and must learn to live life among those from which he is very different.
J’onzz is not the only alien being on Earth though and that is what brings forth the most danger. A giant alien being known as The Centere is drawing power into itself and releasing its minions upon Earth. Prehistoric dinosaurs are killing and ravaging cities so that The Centere may rule all. Its control has already begun taking over the minds of many humans and having them work under his power. The Centere must be stopped at all costs, but it would take the unity of both citizens and the superheroes working together. Now all that remains is to put aside their differences and pray there is a way to stop The Centere before it is too late.
For a direct-to-DVD original film, this was impressive. New Frontier takes many of us back to a time before we were born and introduces us to the worldly problems we’ve only heard or read about in textbooks. Throw in our favorite superheroes from back in early times and you’ve got a recipe for a great story. You’ve seen or read it before in the comic world where the heroes are despised and looked at as criminals by humans causing for rifts between then. Some big problem comes up and they must work together in order to bring peace and harmony back to Earth. Same kind of idea here, but shown a little differently and better.
This is the first time I’ve seen the Justice League move almost entirely away from being a kid-friendly cartoon and go off into the midst of adult-oriented material. It is rated PG-13 so you think they’ll throw in some extra animated violence right? Well, you’re kind of correct but there is more to it. Make way for blood, hardcore fights, cursing, death, and even a case of suicide. This film may be set in the fifties, but you aren’t getting the comic book stories that were written in that time period. It is good to see a little bit more realism thrown into the comic book animated world without going overboard and having pissed off characters like Batman and Wonder Woman throw pointless f-bombs around. The level was raised a bit, but in tasteful and intelligent ways.
Justice League: New Frontier isn’t without its flaws, but it gets the benefit of the doubt for being the first chapter in a new book. First off is that the film should have been at least twenty to twenty-five minutes longer. It could have benefited so much from just having a little more time. There was just way too much trying to be piled into a film that runs just a touch over an hour long. You can’t successfully have an origin story on top of another one combined with a war and then throw in the introductions among four or five other things and expect them all to flow or include everything in seventy-five paltry minutes. It’s just not feasible.
My biggest problem here is some of the choices made for the voices of particular characters. Not all of them mind you because Superman is great. Hal Jordan just feels spot on. Robin and J’onn J’onzz feel comfortable. Neil Patrick Harris is just awesome as the Flash. No, my problems are with Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless) and more so Batman (Jeremy Sisto). Lawless wasn’t as bad, but every time Wonder Woman spoke, all I could see was Xena. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It was distracting. Sisto on the other hand just does not fit in at all as the voice of Batman. Maybe the Batman films, the Justice League, and especially Batman: The Animated Series have spoiled me but Sisto doesn’t cut it. He doesn’t sound like Batman and seems to be trying overly hard to sound mysterious and foreboding. As much as I love Batman, I was kind of glad he wasn’t in the film more because there fore he didn’t talk and annoy me.
The film is shown in Widescreen format and it looks awesome. All the colors are bright where they need to be and darker for the more serious situations and characters such as Batman. Not a single problem could be found.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and really makes for a fun viewing experience. The music is just fantastic while the sound effects of lasers, bullets, explosions, and more is heard with booming resonance making you feel like you’re in the middle of the battle.
Audio Commentaries – The first includes director David Bullock, screenwriter Stan Berkowitz, producers Bruce Timm and Mike Goguen, voice director Andrea Roman, and DC guru Gregory Noveck. The second commentary track features writer Darwyn Cook by himself. The first commentary features a lot of people which means you are going to get a lot of information. Luckily for us though, they all wait their turns and throw in their comments as needed. It is very informative and adds a lot to the story. There is one moment when some deleted scenes are mentioned, but they aren’t anywhere to be found.
Darwyn Cook goes solo on the second commentary and he has a good bit of pausing and just being quiet at times, but does give good insight now and then. He mostly discusses other comic book writers and talks about what is happening on screen. I hate that really because it’s quite obvious what is happening on screen thank you.
Super Heroes United!: The Complete Justice League History – Here is a forty minute featurette discussing the entire history of the Justice League from the good old days of comic books all the way up to today. A lot of those included in the first commentary are joined by comic favorites such as Marv Wolfman, Joe Kelly, Len Wein, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, and a host of others. I really loved this feature because they went incredibly in depth on the whole thing. Storylines, the team, and even one on ones with the characters are presented to give you as much information as possible in forty minutes.
Sneak Peek: Batman Gotham Knight – This is going to be the next DC Universe animated film and it looks like it is going to rock. Many of those involved with DC comics and the animated films give their views on the caped crusader in this ten minute feature. From the looks of the animation coming up in the feature and the way they are insinuating the stories will go is that it reminds me a lot about “The Dark Knight” graphic novels. If that is true then I’m all for it.
Trailers – Appleseed Ex Machina, August Rush, The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters, Torchwood, and Superman: Doomsday
For a first effort with this new/old look of the Justice League and getting them into another time and place, I’d say it was a success. The story was great and the characters are always fun to watch no matter what the situation may be. You just can’t go wrong with a banding together of your favorite comic book characters. Next time though I hope the filmmakers and DC Universe give the freedom of a little more time and please God replace Jeremy Sisto as Batman. I’ll even let them keep Xena as Wonder Woman, but Sisto has got to be shown the door. I can only imagine how he’d sound having to voice Bruce Wayne too, ugh. The special features are really awesome and there’s bound to be more on the two-disc edition, but if you’re looking to check out the feature first and foremost and save a little cash, then this single disc edition is for you. Let me also just go on record and say that it is really great to finally see Hal Jordan as Green Lantern with the Justice League. No disrespect to John Stewart, but Hal is awesome.
Warner Bros. presents Justice League: The New Frontier. Directed by: Dave Bullock. Starring (voices): David Boreanaz, Miguel Ferrer, Neil Patrick Harris, Kyle Maclachlan, Lucy Lawless, Jeremy Sisto, and many more. Written by: Stan Berkowitz and Darwyn Cooke. Running time: 75 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: February 26, 2008. Available at Amazon.com