Format: Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy
Directed by: Lauren Mongomery
Written by: Dwayne McDuffie (Based on a story by Mark Waid)
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Michael Rosenbaum, Nathan Fillion,
Produced by: Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm
Studio: Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, Warner Home Video
Review by: Matt Peters
Next in a long line of DC Comics direct-to-DVD movies is Justice League: Doom. Based on the “Tower of Babel” storyline featured in DC’s JLA revival from the late 90’s, the movie itself was interpreted by the late Dwayne McDuffie. Originally penned by Mark Waid, “Tower of Babel” tells the tale of a Justice League destroyed using very specific tactics for each member which could only be executed by one of their own. McDuffie was a legend in the DC animated world, and most of the original voice cast is back for JL: Doom. Unfortunately, even the perfect ingredients don’t always bear the best results.
“Tower of Babel” is often touted as one of the best JLA stories during Mark Waid’s run on the book. Spanning only four issues, the effects of the tale were surprisingly long reaching. The current format of Warner Animation DVDs doesn’t allow the story the proper room to develop, and it seems like it may have worked better as a mini-series or a trilogy with a staggered release.
As for the movie itself, there are several interesting changes made to the storyline. Instead of facing Ra’s Al Ghul, the League faces off with the Legion of Doom, led by Vandal Savage. This detail actually provides a common threat, and sets up some of the more exciting portions of the film. The inclusion of Cyborg into the League is a strange choice, and distracts from the main storyline more than it adds to it. Some of the tactics used to take down specific League members are different than those featured in the comic; this actually works to the overall story’s advantage since copious amounts of exposition would grind the action to a halt.
Speaking of action, the pacing of the battles really stands out. The fights come off as organic and fluid, even moreso than the original Justice League cartoon. The only complaint here is that each member finds it necessary to stick to their respective dance partners. For some reason, Batman can’t get a little help from Superman with Bane even though he’s standing right there. Maybe they’re teaching him a lesson in trust.
The aforementioned voice acting is as stellar as ever, which has come to be expected in Warner’s DC animation efforts. Nathan Fillion is a natural fit for Green Lantern, and his performance brings the cockiness and bravery to the character that Ryan Reynolds just couldn’t quite deliver during the live-action attempt. Conroy’s Batman & Daly’s Superman are always welcome, and add that level of familiarity to any project that helps establish an overall continuity.
The villain designs are well done while some of the hero details, like Superman’s emblem, are a little off. Character designer Phil Bourassa (Justice League: Injustice, Young Justice) has done better work, especially with Superman. The look of the character just didn’t fit Tim Daly’s voice. Other characters fared better (Bumper Robinson’s Cyborg fared better in this regard), but there was definitely emphasis on making the villains look stylish.
Nothing about the video quality really pops that would make this preferable to a digital download. Speaking of digital, it’s unfortunate that the digital copy isn’t capable of working on several platforms. As always, the inclusion of a Blu-ray and DVD copy make it appealing to those with siblings who tend to scratch and lose things.
The extras really make this set stand out, and ironically hurt it at the same time. The inclusion of the two-part Justice League arc from the Cartoon Network series was the best part of this set. It almost seems unfair to compare JL: Doom to two episodes of Justice League, but surprisingly it works a lot better at fleshing out a complete storyline in much less time. Some touching moments are shared between Green Lantern John Stewart & Hawkgirl that trump anything that was attempted between Green Lantern and Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire during the main feature. Much love is given to Dwayne McDuffie as well, and every aspect of the inclusion of Cyborg is analyzed.
Justice League: Doom is full of great action and some incredible voice acting from professionals that get the characters. Unfortunately, due to constraints of the medium, it does sacrifice some crucial character development.
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Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-Ray from the studio for review purposes.