Saturday, February 27, 2010

Justice League: New Frontier- A Review!

Justice League: New Frontier continues the Bruce Timm-produced series of DC animated features. Based on the Elseworlds series by Darwyn Cooke (which I sadly haven‘t read yet), New Frontier bridges the gap between the Golden Age of the 1940s and the Silver Age of the 1960s. The plot mostly revolves around the origins of Green Lantern Hal Jordan and J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter, with numerous subplots and characters woven in. I could give you a more detailed plot synopsis, but honestly, there’s just SO much going on in this movie, there wouldn’t be much point.
For the most part, New Frontier is a very character driven piece. It focuses more on who these heroes are and why they do what they do. There aren’t many big action scenes until the last 20 minutes or so, but when the action comes, it comes hard. Basically, imagine if Independence Day had Batman and Green Arrow and the Blackhawks dog fighting against pterodactyls, and if that doesn’t sound like a vast improvement over the actual Independence Day, then I’m explaining it wrong.
The animation style is very crisp and has a nice retro flavor. It’s a careful blend of what Bruce Timm has done before mixed with Darwyn Cooke’s unique style. Overall, it gives a nice visual flair; I imagine it’s what a Max Fleischer cartoon would look like if he had access to modern animation techniques.
The film has a large cast of impressive voice talents, and they all deliver. You have David Boreanaz as Hal Jordan, and he… basically sounds like David Boreanaz. Not that that’s bad, mind you, but David has a very distinctive voice; he just dials up the brooding quality accordingly for each role. In Kingdom Hearts, he was at about 5; in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, he’d get up to about 7 or 8. Here, he’s at about 2 on the brooding scale, with a bit of wistfulness thrown in for good measure.
Miguel Ferrer is the film’s other lead voice as J’onn J’onnz, and he does a solid job. We also have Kyle Machlachlan, Jeremy Sisto, and Lucy Lawless as the Big Three (Supes, Bats, and Wonder Woman, respectively), and they all deliver in spades. And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Neil Patrick Harris as the Flash, who’s pretty much just wonderful in anything.
The only criticism I have concerns the pace of the piece. While the story is supposed to take place over the course of seven years, it feels more like it happens during one hectic holiday weekend. The first few scenes start by stating the year, but they drop this. And then suddenly, it's 1960. I mean, honestly, how hard is it to throw up a caption every 10 minutes or so?
Overall, New Frontier is a tremendous leap forward from Superman/ Doomsday. It has pretty much everything you’d want in a superhero story: characterization, intrigue, and a big ass action sequence. I highly recommend this to everybody.

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