Justice League Throne of Atlantis improves
After a rough string of some surprisingly underwhelming efforts, DC Animated rights its ship (mostly) with Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, a welcome return to form for a studio that’s long been synonymous with quality home video original productions.
Truthfully, all Throne of Atlantis had to do was simply step over the very low bar set with Justice League: War [Blu-ray], the awkward introduction of the New 52 animated universe. Thankfully the creative team sets its sights higher.
Picking up from the post-credits scene in War, a faction of Atlanteans led by Orm/Ocean Master (Sam Witwer, Smallville: Season 8) is ready to bring war to the surface dwellers for their (unintentional) actions that are destroying the undersea realm.
The comic (Justice League Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (The New 52) (Jla (Justice League of America), written by Geoff Johns, did a much better job of making Orm a more complex character, while the movie simply makes him a terribly cliché power-hungry despot.
Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin) would rather strike a peace treaty through her half-Atlantean/half-human son, Arthur (Matt Lanter), who will eventually become Aquaman. Indicative of the rushed pace of the film, Arthur quickly accepts his destiny after meeting Atlanna’s emissary, Mera (Sumalee Montano) and partners with the Justice League to stop Orm’s conquest.
Screenwriter Heath Corson opted to keep JL founding member Aquaman out of War to give him more of a spotlight in Throne, but Aquaman is still short-changed. Corson still hasn’t mastered the art of pacing these 72 min. DC Animation efforts and struggles in juggling the numerous underdeveloped subplots from Superman and Wonder Woman’s budding relationship, Cyborg trying to tap into his humanity and Aquaman’s relationships with Orm and Mera.
Most of the characters received a much needed personality enhancement from the first film. Shazam (Sean Astin) is still a bit grating, but not the Jar Jar Binks levels of annoyance he was in War. The interactions between the teammates feel much less forced as well and natural with Batman/Superman and Green Lantern/Flash in particular having some nice exchanges.
DC Animated is still trying to find the right combination for the characters so there’s some changes to the War cast. Alan Tudyk, Michelle Monaghan and Justin Kirk are out as Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern respectively and replaced by Jerry O’Connell, Rosario Dawson and ‘the Green Lantern’ Nathan Fillion, voicing the character for a fourth time.
The swaps are an improvement and they mesh well with returning Shemar Moore (Cyborg), Christopher Gorham (The Flash) and Jason O’Mara, who’s slowly growing into the role of Batman.
Similar to recent efforts dating back to Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the action is intense and at times, gratuitously violent with decapitations, gushing blood and brutal fight scenes — including a literal jumping shark moment. The action is way over the top, but the battles are animated well. Character designs are much improved over War, which had more simplistic visuals.
There’s a post-credit scene that’s mildly spoiled if you pay any attention during the credits. It suggests an intriguing storyline for the next Justice League focused film and one that appears to be less beholden to the source material.
While it doesn’t quite reach the peaks of the upper echelon of the DC Animated stable, Throne of Atlantis gives reason for optimism with future New 52 Justice League films.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Buy the movie here: Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (Blu-ray + DVD)