Justice League - The New Frontier DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

The fanboys will surely love the crap out of this, but even if you don’t go to a comic book store every week, you should get a pretty good time out of this.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A really cool concept in bringing this back to the 50s, a great script and direction with solid voice work throughout. The few features we get here are pretty damn good also.
THE BAD
This could've used a bit longer of a runtime as it's confusing for non-comic aficionados and I was surprised that, with this pretty damn good voice cast, we didn't get any special feature with the talent talking about this flick. Weird.
THE FEATURE
I've never been a comic book fan. I spent my allowances as a youth on baseball cards. However, since the dawn of the new millennium, I've been inundated by a vast amounts of comic lore as the movies shifted suddenly towards the comic book adaptation. I know that sounds snarky, but that's not my intention because I really do love seeing these characters on the silver screen. Justice League: New Frontier brings us back to the old school, bringing back classic characters and placing them in a unique setting of the 1950s, and bringing them back into animated form and, despite the fact that I haven't ever purchased a comic book in my entire life, I really dug this animated feature.

It's barely a feature, granted, at only 75 minutes, but they sure as hell do give you a lot for your money. Not only do we get the classic superheroes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, The Flash and a bunch of others I couldn't recognize all in one little package, but they really delve into some interesting stuff with the story. Stan Berkowitz's script is based off Darwyn Cooke's (who also contributed in writing this script) 2004 DC Comics mini-series, "DC: The New Frontier," which is set in the 1950s world of McCarthyism, racism and ignorance to change of seemingly any kind. It is a marvelous backdrop for this because we start the story with the American public fed up with their superheroes. They want them all to unmask themselves and wonder why they have to be so secretive. While they're all on separate sides of the Earth, they're all leery of some strange happenings and talk of this mysterious entity, The Centre. When a truly odious force is upon them, they all band together, unite as one to save mankind... and stuff.

My only beef with the script is that, while you did get a lot for your money, they almost went too far. A lot of stuff goes by pretty fast and for a guy like me who doesn't know everything about these characters, it can be a bit confusing, figuring out who is what, and vice versa. It seemed they could've benefitted by an extra 15 minutes to even this out at a cool 90 minutes and they wouldn't have to breeze through a lot of stuff with Flash-like speed. Still, Berkowitz has crafted a fine script with many subtleties and reflections of the culture back then that is really quite a cool backdrop for these superheroes and their purposes.

We get a unique voice cast here, but even if you know their voices well, they really aren't that recognizable unless you really really listen. We get the likes of David Boreanez as Hal Jordan, Miguel Ferrerr as the Martian Manhunter, Keith David as The Centre, Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, Kyle MacLachlin as Superman, Jeremy Sisto as Batman, Kyra Sedgwick as Lois Lane, Brooke Shields as Carol Ferris and, my personal favorite, Neil Patrick Harris as The Flash. The only voice I actually did recognize was Joe Mantegna, who played a Rat Pack-esque singer for a minute or so. Even Keith David's voice wasn't that recognizable, and his voice stands out like no other. Still, the voices were all done quite well, despite recognizability.

The direction by Dave Bullock was interesting as well, because they did a nice job in capturing the 50s look for the "sets" and the characters themselves, but still added a very nice modern flair to it without making it seem either too 50s or too modern. It was quite the perfect medium and I thought they pulled it off swimmingly.

Fanboy or no fanboy, this is quite an entertaining little flick, folks. It gives us some characters we're all at least somewhat familiar with and puts them in a setting we really wouldn't expect to see them in. Definitely worth a watch.
THE EXTRAS
We don't get much here. The only main feature is Super Heroes United: The Justice League of America. It's quite a comprehensive doc*mentary , spanning just over 40 minutes, and it's almost like a crash course in comic book history. They talk about quite a lot of societal stuff, comparing comic books to all sorts of things under the sun, theories, influences, etc. They also go through each individual superhero and their creation and mythology. It also goes through every different reincarnation of the Justice League throughout the years, and how those reflected the culture and stuff. Like the movie itself, it seems they take this stuff a wee bit too seriously, but it's quite an interesting watch. If you're not too into comic books, like me, you do get quite an education... whether you like it or not, but I'm not sure if hardcore fanboys will dig this because I'd imagine they already know a lot of this stuff. Still, for me being confused by some stuff by my non-fanboy ways, it's a nice supplement to the movie, clears some things up, and was quite educational and entertaining.

The only other thing we get is a Sneak Peek: Batman Gotham Knight, the new animated DVD that is coming out in July that will bridge the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It's really a bunch of interviews with DC people intercut with shots of early comics and this new animated flick. Since this is done by a Japanese anime director, they make comparisons to Japanese flicks, samurai and even name-drop Toshiro Mifune. They talk about the new movie and how they approached it and how it differs other Batman works, the villains here, Deadshot, Killer Croc and good ol' Scarecrow and it gives us some interesting insight... but we don't really get a whole lot of actual footage here. Still, this 10-minute feature is worth a watch.
THE VIDEO
The disc is presented in the "matted" widescreen format, preserving the original aspect ratio while being enhanced for 16x9 TV's.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled through the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound format.
THE PACKAGE
The packaging isn't terribly impressive. The front cover just has all the main characters charging ahead, towards the bad guys, I guess. The back has a big synopsis, a special features listing and the billing block and tech specs, with an animated landscape and some of the heroes on the background.
THE FINAL WORD
All in all, this is a pretty entertaining disc that gives us some classic superheroes in a very interesting context. The fanboys will surely love the crap out of this, but even if you don't go to a comic book store every week, you should get a pretty good time out of this.

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Comments (6)

  1. CBF

    Cool. Wish I could go to ComicCon. Have fun.

    6 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  2. Brian Gallagher

    I'm part of the administration, yes. I'm the DVD Editor for the site and basically everything on the DVD page is from me, plus lots of other stuff.

    We do have other "Official Critics" though. Just keep doing user reviews and remind me about it a little later after Comic-Con and I'll ask tha boss about it.

    6 years agoby @gallagherFlag

  3. CBF

    So how do you get to be an "Official" MovieWeb critic? Or are you part of the administration?

    6 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  4. CBF

    Thanks for the info. I thought there was an html code or something for it, but that's pretty much what I was expecting.

    6 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  5. Brian Gallagher

    Hey man. Thanks for the props!

    I have those breaks in my review because I'm an official MovieWeb critic. If you look here movieweb/features/reviews.php?s=dvd you'll see that all of my reviews and all of the other official MovieWeb critics have that nifty little "Official Review" stamp on it. One o fhte perks of the job. Of course, you can just type in the breaks yourself, if you desire.

    Take care!

    Peace in. Gallagher out!

    6 years agoby @gallagherFlag

  6. CBF

    Pretty good review, I am wondering how did you put the cool separation breaks in between subjects? i.e. "The Features," "The Flick," "The Good/Bad," etc.
    I just bought this DVD a while ago and I am bout to write a review.

    6 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag