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~Ephesians 5:16

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Review

Cross-promotion is one of the big things for companies. Currently, DC is utilizing The New 52's version of the Justice League for their animated films. This started with "War," which adapted the first arc of the comic. This time, Throne of Atlantis is being adapted. War was pretty solid, successfully introducing the League in an exciting way, also being pretty faithful to the comic version. The only major departure was the usage of Shazam instead of Aquaman. Rather, DC wanted to introduce the King of the Seas in the next film. While War was solid, it still had problems. Sadly, those problems return here and are magnified. While calling Throne of Atlantis a "bad" movie would be a disservice to it, it can't be called "great" or even "very good."
Darkness, mystery, legend - these are the whispers that echo through time regarding Atlantis. A kingdom long since forgotten to surface dwellers, it is here that a hidden empire teeters on the brink of war. When a military submarine traversing this remote domain is attacked, Cyborg plunges to the murky depths to investigate the wreckage. What he encounters is a threat powerful enough to rally together the newly formed Justice League. Meanwhile, thousands of feet above the ocean floor wanders the lone drifter Arthur Curry, a man with strange powers who may be the last chance to bridge the ancient Atlantean world and our own. Join Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League as they face off against Orm, otherworldly weapons and perilous odds. It's an all-new, epic chapter from the DC Universe in which mankind's only hope from the darkness rests upon the guiding light of a man - Aquaman!

Before War, DC was content with adapting stories from the earlier days such as the case with Doom and The New Frontier. For better or worst, those versions of the characters have been replaced by The New 52's. With this film, it's definitely for the worst. To be fair, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the Flash all remain consistent and engaging. It's everyone else that is cringe-worthy. Let's talk about the biggest culprit, Shazam. He is easily the worst character in the whole thing, supposedly being comic relief, but just about every line he has is terrible. If that weren't bad enough, he's given little to do power-wise and ends up being a joke like his War appearance. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a character who can be a match for Superman and is also known as Earth's Mightiest Mortal. (On top of that, he's supposed to have the wisdom of sign of that.) He in the past has rarely been immature, why DC has gone this route with the character is beyond me.

The scene where Batman tells Superman not to touch anything and then the latter precedes to do so tells me one thing: the League is being written as if they were all kids. Ironically, Cyborg, the least well known of all the main characters might just be written the best. I actually felt some emotion when Ocean Master stabbed him almost to the point of no return. Green Lantern's comedy relief isn't as good as in War, but doesn't sink to Shazam annoying. Still, it's sad when the League's interactions with each other feels like a bunch of college students going back and fourth. I don't know if DC is trying to appease that crowd by delivering so-called "hip and now" versions of these characters, because it's failing miserably.

The big thing about this movie is the debut of Aquaman. In the comic, he was already established, so it was interesting to see the origin here. For the most part he could be called a solid character, but some of the writing, in fact, a lot of the writing in this movie could be a lot better. "Oh, and, uh, funny story, I talk to fish now and they actually listen. So I'm gonna stop my evil half-brother from destroying the surface world. Do you, um, do you wanna come?" Yes that is an actual piece of dialogue when he talks to Mera. Speaking of her, there's something this film does badly in: establishing romances. The only romance subplot that is developed nicely is between Cyborg and Sarah Charles. Superman and Wonder Woman being together has always been a favorite concept among fans, but it happens way too suddenly here. And then, when they are in their human disguises, Lois Lane runs into them. What follows is some awkward dialogue because the relationship between him and Lois has not been established in this continuity. The viewer is left wondering, "Um, so are Lois and Clark separated or something, because the way Clark acted made it seem that way."

It's apparent that Aquaman and Mera, (who is actually more engaging than half the League_) make a good couple. But that romance happens way too quickly. I would say this movie needed to be longer, but with films like Crisis on Two Earths and Doom which has stellar writing in the same amount of time, that excuse can't be used. The main antagonist is Ocean Master, who, thanks to The New 52 version will forever be known for pretty much knocking out the entire Justice League. This happens here too, and while the comic makes it semi-believable, it doesn't work here. It just seems like they made this guy take them all down for shock value. Black Manta, his right hand man, is the much more engaging character. That's why his sudden exit was so terribly executed to the point where a longtime fan will be tempted to burn the disc to a crisp.

One major disappointment was there was no massive title wave that engulfed Metropolis. This happened in the comic and it was deadly & amazingly executed. Arguably, this was the most memorable thing about the arc. (Aside from of course Ocean Master taking out Superman.) The title wave is teased, but then it evaporates. Batman even says "people are going to die," which is quite a powerful line. None of this happens, which a great disservice to the comic. While there are a lot of negatives, the film is not without its redeeming qualities. The fight scenes remain choreographed well, and the animation is crisp. The overall concept of the story is engaging enough to be watched until the end. Sadly, there's just a lot of cringe-worthy writing and poor handling of characters to get there.
Hey that logo looks familiar...

Overall, Throne of Atlantis is a disappointment. One is better off buying the trade paperback than watching the adaption. It's easily the worst direct-to-DVD Justice League movie DC has released thus far. It does has some intense action scenes, though Batman is surprisingly part of almost none of them. (He doesn't throw a single punch.) Shazam remains a disgrace and Black Manta's demise (for now anyway) was just ridiculous when he is the more engaging character, not Ocean Master. Superman is a pale representation of his former self, not once representing the icon of hope his symbol represents. (No Superman I know would say that he's going to shove something down a villain's throat, more proof that the writing is trying desperately to make this characters "edgy.") I'm disappointed that The New 52 will continue in animated format, because this proves the older formula for the characters is just far superior.


1 comment:

  1. This film was certainly very underwhelming. I hope DC steps it up like in the good ole days!