Normally I hate any animated superhero movie or cartoon. They are usually filled with watered down stories with homogenized visuals. I have no idea why I decided to watch Justice League The New Frontier
]. I ordered it Video On Demand because there did not seem to be anything else interesting in the VOD menu, and it was due to go off the schedule in on the 29th. I figured that it was going to be awful, or there would have been some kind of buzz in the media about it.
As soon as I ordered it, I regretted my decision. I was absolutely sure that it was going to be saccharine and insipid. That was my first mistake.
I had only wanted some background noise to kill the time while I worked on the computer. I didn't expect to actually watch the movie or find it compelling enough to capture my interest. That was my second mistake.
I fully expected the characters to be empty shells of their comic book counterparts. That was my third mistake.
The movie was awesome
. I was actually shocked by my own reaction to the film. OK, the artwork in the beginning credits was good, wait, wait... The artwork in the beginning credits was very
good... and then a character committed suicide. What the...?
The there was scene where Superman and Wonder Woman have a difference of opinion over the cold-blooded murder of several Korean soldiers. What the...?
Wait a minute, kids are going to be watching this!
Next was a scene of the quiet, desperate and lonely existence of J'onn J'onzz (a character that I always found vapid and annoying) and his pathetic life in a rented room watching television. What the...?
The scene was very brief and yet remarkably expressive.
OK, now I was hooked. I was not going to be able work on the computer now - unless the film got progressively worse from this point on...
But it didn't. It just got better.
The doomsday Galactus-wannabe villain was sort of silly and vague, but that did not really deter from the story at all. The story was about the complexity of the characters and their relationships with each other, and not the villain. Even the big battle scene in the end did not pull down the story (as is often the case in this sort of tale) because what drove the story was the minutiae of the characters lives and not the battle itself.
The film was clearly not aimed at kids, or at least did not pander to a childish mentality. This movie was certainly not Saturday morning fare. The subplots were remarkably mature and well thought out. Set in America after the Korean war, the film made references to everything from McCarthyism, 50's era test patterns and Dante's Inferno.
Usually, cartoons about comic books talk down to the audience and are superficial and preachy. I was consistently overwhelmed at mature tone of the film.
A film has enough trouble holding audience when the story is only about one or two characters. When a film is about a whole group of characters, it is very difficult to tell the story in such a way that the audience can empathize with each of the characters. In this film, they managed to capture and tell the story of each of the character's unique story.
The filmmakers believably depicted Wonder Woman's proud defiance, Batman's maniacally dark vigilantism, Hal Jordan's inner doubts about himself (and his eventual redemption), J'onn J'onzz's alienation and desire to fit in, and Superman was just an arrogant dickhead, like always.
According to the New York Times,
the original story in comic book form was over 400 pages long, so the story has been pared down considerably for the 70-minute film.
I was surprised that the film got a PG-13 rating, because of the violence and adult themes. Perhaps the censors were more concerned about nudity and less concerned with the adult themes that were covered. I would like to note that in the battle sequence there were numerous naked pterodactyls, however.
The best lines in the film:"I'm just a guy who runs after jewelry thieves and talking gorillas.""It's OK, but real men wear pants.""I though I could make a life for myself here among you humans. I didn't think I had a choice. But there is one now. There's too much hatred here, too much ignorance, too much mindless conformity. I'm leaving."
This little exchange between Batman and Superman was kind of interesting, in a creepy caped crusader sort of way:Robin:
"Wow! You really do know him."Superman:
"You must be Robin. I hear you're quite a detective."Robin:
"Well, I try not to brag, but..."Batman:
"Have you finished your homework yet?"Robin:
"Hmmm. New look. Sidekick. You mind if I ask you..."Batman:
"As a matter of fact I do. Let's just say I set out to scare criminals not children."Superman: