Justice League: Doom Blu-Ray Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, March 04, 2012
The latest DC animated film is a (very) loose adaptation of the “Tower of Babel” storyline written by Mark Waid that ran in JLA #43 – 46 back in 2000. The plot is drastically changed from the comics as are the characters and not for the better. The main thrust of the comic storyline was Batman’s secret plans to neutralize the other members of the JLA should they ever turn against mankind. That aspect is nearly lost in the film until the final 10 minutes and then covered almost as an after thought.
The film begins with Batman interrupting a bank robbery attempt by the Royal Flush gang. Heavily outgunned, Batman is rescued by the rest of the JLA (Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter) along with an assist from Cyborg. The Royal Flush gang was using highly advanced weaponry and the JLA intends to find out from whom they got it. Mirror Master secretly hitches a ride in the Batmobile and infiltrates the Bat Cave where he hacks into the Batcomputer to steal sensitive information. Now I cannot tell you how much it made me cringe that a two-bit villain like Mirror Master not only made it into the Batcave (even after Batman saw him briefly in his rearview mirror, but also managed to hack the Batcomputer. I mean really...Mirror Master? Not the Joker, not Hugo Strange, not Ra's al Ghul, but Mirror Master manages this? Of course, in the comics it indeed was Ra's al Ghul who managed to steal this information, which is far more believable than Mirror Master.
Meanwhile, several villains including Bane, Star Sapphire, Metallo, Ma'alefa'ak, and Cheetah, along with Mirror Master are invited to Vandal Savage’s Hall of Doom. Only why would it be called the Hall of Doom since there was technically no Legion of Doom yet but oh well…insert Super Friends music here and lets get on with it. Savage uses the files stolen from Batman to devise plans for reach of the villains to defeat their arch foes and offers them a $100 million dollar bounty for each member of the JLA they kill, while hinting at an even more malevolent plan.
While these plots truly were ingenious in Waid’s original story, here they are dumbed down to a ridiculous degree. While the fiery assault on the Martian Manhunter and the virtual reality attack on Wonder Woman is kept relatively the same, the rest border on the silly if not outright stupid. I mean did it really take a genius for Metallo to figure out he could shoot Superman with a bullet made of Krytonite? Meanwhile Flash is faced with a trap stolen right off the big screen from film “Speed”. The change in these deadly traps makes little sense other than the fact that they were done to make things a bit simpler.
The final battle with Savage and the thwarting of this grand plan helps give the film an impact that it lacked for most of the first hour but this played more like a 3-part episode of the old Justice League animated show rather than something that deserved feature film treatment. One major plus to the film is that Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy are back providing the voices of Superman and Batman. And boy is it great to have Conroy back after the terrible performance by Benjamin Mckenzie in Batman: Year One. These old favorites help boost a very strong voice cast that also includes Nathan Fillon as Green Lantern, Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash, and Phil Morris as Vandal Savage. Justice League: Doom isn’t a bad film but it’s not great, either. Despite basing these films on well-known comic book story arcs, DC doesn’t seem really ready to commit themselves fully to these projects. When you make a film that lasts only 77 minutes it’s clear that you’re still producing these with short attention-spanned kids in mind rather than hardcore comic book fans.
Audio Commentary with the creative team
A league of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story (36:35) – This is my favorite part of the entire package. This is a touching look at the late, great Dwayne McDuffie who wrote the story before passing away suddenly in 2011. We get to meet a man who was a certified genius, who went to college at age 10 and became a brilliant physicist before turning his attention to comics. Outstanding documentary!
Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA (19:00) – A look at the film, the Tower of Babel comic story, and real life examples of where checks and balances are in place to prevent misuse of power.
Superman Vs. The Elite (6:32) – A sneak peek at the next DC animated film project
Cyborg: His time has come (6:08) - A history of the character in the comics and onscreen
Bruce Timm’s Top Picks – Two of producer Bruce Timms’ favorite episodes from the Justice League animated TV show.
Mania Grade: C+
Blu-ray: Justice League: Doom
Starring (Voices): Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rosenbaum
Written By: Dwayne McDuffie
Directed By: Lauren Montgomery
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2012
Extras: See Below