DVD Review

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Rating: PG-13
  • Starring (voices): Neil Patrick Harris, Lucy Lawless, Miguel Ferrer, David Boreanaz, Brooke Sheilds, Kyra Sedgewick, Jeremy Sisto, Kyle MacLachlan, Keith David
  • Written By: Stan Berkowitz, Darwyn Cooke (original comic)
  • Directed By: Dave Bullock
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2008
  • Extras: Documentary "Super Heroes United! : The Complete Justice League History". Sneak Peek at DC Universe's "Batman Gotham Knight". Commentaries.


Bob's Review of the new Justice League DVD

By Robert T. Trate, Columnist     February 20, 2008

Justice League: The New Frontier Single-Disc Edition (2008).
© Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

When Warner Brothers canceled “Justice League Unlimited” I wondered how long it would take for the League to return. It certainly didn’t take too long. Based on Darwyn Cooke's award-winning graphic novel, ‘Justice League the New Frontier’ is a re-imagined retro look at the origin of the Justice League. 

The film begins when the Earth was still a red ball of fire. A visitor from another world, who will call itself “The Center” (Keith David), makes the Earth its home. Watching the world as it evolves, “The Center” realizes that the there is an infestation. An infestation called man. From its opening moments with comic book like pages turning and a brush changing those very pages, you can tell that ‘Justice League The New Frontier’ is going to be different. 

There are several brief introductions and origins in the ‘Justice League the New Frontier’. Two stand out above all the rest: Hal Jordan’s a.k.a the Green Lantern (David Boreanaz) and J'onn J'onzz’s a.k.a. the Martian Manhunter (Miguel Ferrer). These two iconic characters take center stage in the story. This delivers a refreshing change of pace from your typical Superman and Batman Justice League story. Their personal stories help shape this retelling of Earth’s mightiest heroes’ first adventure.

Hal Jordan has been looking for an escape. Haunted by his final moments of the Korean War, probably the most graphic moment in animated Justice League history, he looks to the stars for an escape. Jordan is test pilot who is hired by a private firm to be an astronaut for a journey to Mars. The actual mission is kept from Jordan and its revelation reveals what we already know. That he is a hero that will cherish all life and sacrifice everything for what is right.

J'onn J'onzz, a Martian, is trapped on Earth with no means of escape. He is looking for a place to belong. Trying to understand Earthlings he walks the Earth helping them by being one of them. In case you didn’t know, one of J'onn J'onzz many abilities is to change shape. Knowing that Earthlings are inherently good, J'onn J'onzz believes he can make a difference by fighting for what is right. He really is the tragic hero in this story and much like in “Justice League Unlimited” the Manhunter has more humanity than any other character in the Justice League. 

Fear not. Batman (Jeremy Sisto), Superman (Kyle MacLachlan), Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless) and the Flash (Neil Patrick Harris) all play important roles. Besides the Flash their roles are reduced in size compared to Darwyn Cooke's original story. In all honesty it was a great change of pace to have Batman be a side player and recapture some of his mystery. Superman and Wonder Woman have a relationship where they are at odds with one another. Two different perspectives of America are seen through their eyes. Superman believes in the American dream, where Wonder Woman only sees the American reality. Darwyn Cooke's perspective on American culture and these characters invigorates this story to a level and a place that the Justice League hasn’t gone before.

Even with its huge climatic battle between “The Center” and all of the newly formed Justice League the film is not heavy on action. Not a lot of POW and BAM going on in ‘Justice League the New Frontier’. This is a character piece. So much so I actually thought it was going to have a cliff hanger and another DVD would soon be in the works. This is the complete story of ‘Justice League the New Frontier’. Albeit shortened for time constraints ‘Justice League the New Frontier’ still delivers on the source materials iconic storytelling and magic.

What’s different from the Comic?

(Possible Spoilers)

Obviously the complete work was transformed into a seventy-five minute cartoon. It does come extremely close to the comic. However, there were a few things missing that stood out. The opening of the comic and its story with the Dinosaur Island is only briefly mentioned in news broadcasts. The McCarthy type witch hunts of the superheroes is also briefly mentioned. Gone is a lot of the public relation stunts with Superman and Wonder Woman. Ace Morgan (John Heard) and Hal Jordan’s relationship is shortened but it still accomplishes the same end result. As much as they focused on J'onn J'onzz they left out a lot of his detective work on the comic book about “The Center”. Everything still works in the story but that was my favorite part of Darwyn Cooke’s book.

Special Features:

“Super Heroes United! : The Complete Justice League History” is a forty-one minute documentary that dives deep into the history of the Justice League. For fans of comics it breaks down the history of the Justice League and how it changed. It starts with it’s beginnings in All Star Comics #3 1940, the Golden Age of Comics to every detail from what the country was going through and how comics were perceived. The documentary is also a complete back story on what the writers were doing and how the fans responded. Many D.C. Comic legends and one from Marvel chime in with their story and perspective. 

The sneak peek at DC Universe’s “Batman Gotham Knight” is a mini documentary told in nine minutes about a new Batman anime anthology. It is a prelude to the new Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight’ which promises to use different styles of anime bringing a look to Batman that hasn’t been seen yet.


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sportwarrior 2/20/2008 12:45:48 AM
Looks pretty cool, I may have to check it out. I just wish that Justice League Unlimited wasn't canceled. I loved that show.
RaithManan 2/20/2008 1:32:54 AM
I've been waiting for this since it was announced last May, so I can't wait to get a copy. Now I have to wait til Manga and WB's collaberation on 4 different perspectives of Batman in June.
CalamityJohnson 2/20/2008 1:42:43 AM
Justice League Unlimited was the single best cartoon series ever done. I'm not talking movies or epics. Only the 80's Robotech compares. Yes, that good... Shame on all you who missed it. Amazing how it tied together all those years of Batman TAS, Superman TAS, and even Batman Beyond. Cartoon universe continuity. The cartoon universe was more organized and put together than the real comic DC Universe.
SONYMANswallows 2/20/2008 10:58:49 AM
JLU is good but a let down from how incredible the BATMAN animated series was. Main reason is that they change characters names like Black Manta to Devil Ray. And not using Carter Hall as Hawkman but rather going with the shitty story line that was STARCROSSED. I have every JLA issue including the Brave and the Bold debuts from the 60's I have not been reading it as much for 4 years because they trashed Grant Morrison's storyline and gave Despero back his old look which is to 60's compared to his design from Justice League Task Force which had good designs but the stories were boring yet original. That and John Stewart was more of Barry Bonds with his huge steroid body. John Stewart is a genius not a muscle bound arrogant prick with a lame military ego. I like alot of JL and JLU but it is not a fair interpretation of the comics. It is a good update of Superfriends. Meanwhile back at the hall of lame storytelling. I want to see New Frontier though, I hope REDBOX has it.
RaithManan 2/20/2008 11:05:31 AM
You're right Calamity...Justice League did do something that is seldom done in cartoons is tie in loose ends on episodes done years ago on previous series of those shows. Now while technically the current Justice League storyline currently runs on "The Batman", they were smart enough to have Clancy Brown, Dana Delaney and George Newburn return to their roles as Luthor, Lois and Superman. Too bad they had to create the series during the Justice League run, which kinda annoyed me a bit. Even though it took me a while to get into "The Batman", though I still have an issue with Kevin Michael Richardson sounding like Chester Cheetah half the time doing the Joker. And while Rino Ramano has been serviceable doing Batman, still long for Kevin Conroy instead. But I guess after he's done it for 14 years, probably wanted to go in a different direction.
RaithManan 2/20/2008 11:19:35 AM
Actually SonyMan...Carter Hall was Hawkman in Justice League. First appeared in "Shadow of the Hawk" which was during the Legion of Doom story arc on the show. The one in Starcrossed wasn't him. Now maybe you were upset with why they didn't use him or just assumed it was him, which was a common mistake considering some who did see that episode thought it was him. As far a Manta goes, and I'm gonna have to catch the classic Aquaman shorts again since I never really was an Aquaman reader, but I think he was just simply called Manta back then because his costume wasn't black in those classic DC days until the Superfriends run which he was then called Black Manta, which may or not have been influenced by Hanna-Barbera. If so, then they own the rights to the name "Black Manta". Just like they own the rights to Samurai, Black Vulcan, Apache Chief and the Wonder Twins which is the reason why you saw variations of those characters in Justice League as "The Ultimen" because DC don't own the rights to those names.
SONYMANswallows 2/22/2008 7:53:37 PM
Raith I am aware that they eventually used Carter but I don't like how they made Thangarians such asswipes. Sorry I wasnt clear. And I guess my other point is they need to pay the creators what they want and deserve. Also a great storyline a few years ago in Aquaman had Black Manta as a infant and was autistic. The only way he wouldn't scream in pain was if he was always in water. It made him mad and turned him into a pirate which is what he is referred to as by Aquaman at that time. And a cool way to make him more than a villain. Aquaman was able to heal him for awhile so he was no longer a villain. And Black Vulcan is only Black Lightning for Superfriends and DC used Wonder twins a few years ago when a movie was in the works.


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