Justice League: The New Frontier

As promised, here’s my review of the new direct-to-DVD animated movie “Justice League: The New Frontier.” Obviously, it’s based on Darwyn Cooke’s extremely popular miniseries “The New Frontier,” featuring DC heroes making their debuts in the 1950s.

Well, let’s just get it right out there — I loved this movie. The plot is pretty much just like the plot of the miniseries/graphic novel: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are joined by new superheroes like the Flash, Green Lantern, and the Martian Manhunter, as they face an alien threat that could wipe out human life on Earth.

Of course, the movie has a limited run-time, so lots of stuff had to be cut — some of the stuff they removed really shoulda been left in, because it was awesome, and some of the stuff they left in really should’ve been removed. I wish they’d been able to include more of the Losers, Karin Grace, and the Challengers of the Unknown, I wish they’d left Hourman out entirely (Nothing against Hourman, but when Superman says “Hourman is dead,” what the viewer hears is “Our man is dead.” What? Who’s their man? It’s confusing). Those are the dangers of adapting comic books to film, I guess — it’s impossible to include all the keen stuff that you wish they’d kept from the book.

But those nitpickings aside, this is really a glorious movie. The animators do a great job of replicating the artwork from Cooke’s comic. The animation is just gorgeous — by now, Warner’s has a lot of experience animating superheroes, so the action is downright dandy, and they do a stellar job of replicating the stylized look of the ’50s, from casino design to retro rockets to clothing and hairstyles.

They’ve got voice work by a lot of recognizable stars — David Boreanz is Green Lantern, Neil Patrick Harris is the Flash, Lucy Lawless is Wonder Woman, Kyle MacLachlan is Superman, etc. Honestly, I usually dislike movies that do this — it’s usually just stunt-casting, where actual voice actors could do a better job. But I thought everyone in this did a great job. The only person you could really identify was Lawless, ’cause she has a very distinctive voice. With everyone else, you completely forget the characters are being voiced by famous people — as far as I’m concerned, this means they do a darn good job of getting the characters down.

Listen, if you’re planning on getting this for your kids, think again. There’s a sticker right on the front of the case that says “First ever Justice League animated movie rated PG-13.” And they ain’t kidding about the rating, either. The first scene in the movie ends with a guy putting a gun to his head and blowing his brains out. Not long after that, Hal Jordan, his plane shot down over Korea, shoots an enemy soldier, and a nice big splatter of blood hits Hal in the face. This is definitely a movie worth seeing, but don’t traumatize your kids with it, okay?

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