Monday, July 7, 2008

New Frontier... Wow

As much as I love Spider-Man and the Marvel universe, DC just eradicates them in the animation field. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited are all some of the finest cartoons that ever existed and all tie together in continuity to form the DCAU (DC animated universe).

DC characters shine in direct-to-DVD releases just as well as they do in animated series. Superman: Doomsday was one of the best DVDs I picked up last year. Along with Spectacular Spider-Man, Justice League: The New Frontier is one of the greatest things that's ever been contained inside a TV set.

For those of you that may not know, Justice League: The New Frontier is based off of an award winning comic book mini-series, DC: The New Frontier, written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. If you've read the book, you'll probably be familiar with what's going on even though some changes were made to this movie. I haven't read the book (though I've wanted to for a long while now) but, I did get a good chunk of background information on it, and I saw a good sized preview of the film when I watched the extras on Superman: Doomsday, so I knew about the setting of the film beforehand.

If you haven't read the book or have no knowledge about this movie, you're probably looking at the screens and DVD cover art and saying "What the *expletive deleted*?" JL: NF is set in the 1950s in the silver age of DC comics. Since I'm a child of the '80s I don't know much of anything about the '50s and I haven't read any DC comics from that era. So it really is quite a treat to see DC heroes from the silver age in animated form. Old timers or fans that are perfectly fine seeing their DC protagonists go retro will probably geek out.

The Korean War has ended and the need/want for super heroes has decreased. Fear and prejudice has clouded the hearts and minds of the people of Earth when it comes to meta humans. Superman tries to keep the peace by working with the government while Wonder Woman and Batman each do their own thing. Unknown to them, an alien race has been observing the the Earth and its inhabitants for years. After watching mankind kill one another again and again the alien has come to the conclusion that humanity deserves extinction. The Earthlings and super heroes have two options; place the differences aside and unite against their common enemy, or be whipped out.

The plot behind JL: NF is nothing new, but the execution is nothing short of marvelous. There's a lot of subplots going on while the aliens try to slaughter everyone. You've got Hal Jordan's struggling with the aftermath of his taking a life after a cease fire was called to save his own. Then there's Flash, Barry Allen wondering if he's really appreciated in the city he protects since the government is trying to capture and study him. Martian Manhunter investigates the coming threat of the Centre (the aliens) and tries to fit in among humanity. Batman, well he's Batman. Make no mistake, he may look like a 1950s era Batman, but he's every bit the Dark Knight, meaning he will make you wet yourself if you are on the wrong side of the law.

Darwyn Cooke is one of my favorite writers and artists and seeing his work come to life is simply amazing. His art style looks similar to Jack Kirby and it looks like it literally jumped off the pages. It really is a site to behold.
There's a lot of good action scenes in this movie but what really got me was the moral of the story. The people in this film were able to do what needed to be done because they were united. It actually made me stop and think that if the world did that, who knows what we could do.

The voice acting in JL: NF is topnotch. As much as I love Kevin Conroy as Batman, George Newbern as Superman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, and Michael Rosenbaum as Flash, I don't think their voices would have worked for the type of setting with this movie. When I think of 1950s Batman, I can't picture Kevin doing the voice. Jeremy Sisto really surprised me when he voiced the Dark Knight and Lucy Lawless as Wonder is genius voice casting. A fellow forumite said Lucy was perfect for the role because "she's basically playing Xena," and he was right.

As you've probably guessed, I think this is a phenomenal film. One of the best animated flicks I've ever seen and possibly one of the best movies I've ever seen. Go out and buy this move. I recommend the Two disc special edition since there's a lot of cool bonus stuff for you to check out. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch this magnificent film again.


Tommy said...

I got a kick out of seeing Static (from Static Shock) in one of the Justice League Unlimited episodes where some of the members are in an alternate future where the JL was in tatters.

Another cool thing was when Batman (present) is going to interrogate one of the Jokerz and Old Man Bruce tells him to step aside. We don't know what he does, but it works. He also makes a comment like, "I can't believe I was such an amateur."


Reggie White Jr. said...

Oh, year those eps were called "The Once and Future Thing." Great stuff. Seeing all the Batmen on screen together was fantastic. And Old Static rocked. I also enjoyed the cartoon Static Shock. No plans for a DVD release unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I've yet to hear a bad review on this film, every time I read one I want to watch it even more than I already do.

I still haven't gotten to see it (I'm not spending more than $9.99 on an animated film, no matter how good it is, sorry) and I too, haven't read the graphic novel yet. I think I'll go get that first.

Disagree with whomever said that Lucy Lawless was playing Xena; Wonder Woman is nothing like Xena. Plus Xena is much cooler. ;)

Robert J. Sodaro said...

I’m telling Jon! I’m telling Jon!

Reggie White Jr. said...

HA HA!!!