Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Justice League Starcrossed Review

Justice League Starcrossed is a film that I’ve seen countless times in the past. It’s a classic that has withstood the test of time and still proves to be one of the best western films of all time. It makes sense as this film ended the Justice League (pre Unlimited) series and that was the greatest American cartoon of all time. It’s about time that I give this title a proper review.

Hawkgirl’s people arrive on Earth and let its inhabitants know that the Gordanians are planning to attack Earth so the Thanagarians (Hawkgirl’s people) will protect them. The Justice League agree to this, but Batman never trusts someone without having a plan in motion. He quickly figures out that this is all just a ruse, but is unable to help the Justice League escape. They are all kidnapped and upon breaking free they must figure out a way to retake their planet. The governments have been taken down and Earth is virtually defenseless. Not to mention that Hawkgirl is a traitor and can no longer be trusted. Things will have certainly changed when this is all over.

It’s a great plot and the film never breaks stride with its quick pacing. I’d also like to point out that the opening credits were very well done. It was essentially the main theme of the show and in the background you got to see a quick recap of the show for new viewers who could be tuning in. Of course, this is the Justice League so there’s no need for a very detailed recap. Everyone knows who the main characters are after all.

The film continues to start off well as the Justice League quickly try to stop the incoming alien threat before the negotiations begin. The first epic scene of the film is definitely when the Thanagarians betray the League so then the first fight occurs. Obviously, I’m going to call for a good amount of plot hax as the heroes should have easily crushed these aliens. I don’t care how much prep time they had, it wouldn’t be enough to take out this powerhouse group of heroes. Don’t even get me started on Wonder Woman losing while on the Watchtower!

That’s to be expected though so by and large I’ll let it slide. Having a depowered Superman for part of the film did help the drama angle since he couldn’t just fly in and wreck everyone. His fight against one of the Thanagarian soldiers was definitely solid. Once he was back to full power for the climax, I figured that the villains were definitely toast. Superman and the others really laid waste to the army with ease. If anything, Hro Talak is lucky that Superman had to go save Batman since he would have been crushed otherwise. At least against Green Lantern he was still able to stand in the end. Few can hope for much more than that after fighting the Man of Steel.

The Justice League had to go undercover for a little while so it was nice to see Clark Kent back in action. It’s times like these where having an established alter ego is so useful. Batman and Superman would pass the Thanagarian security checks. Green Lantern and Wonder Woman would have a tougher time if they don’t have some kind of ID. I feel like the Flash is the best off in this case though. With his speed, he can be in the next country the instant that someone spots him. The effects of the gravity wore off rather quickly after all. If anything, he could have ran everyone back to Batman’s place, but I suppose that this is more discreet.

As mentioned, Hawkgirl’s betrayal is one of the pivotal parts of the film. The League takes a vote on whether to allow her back in or not and my vote would certainly be on the nay side. Hawkgirl had a chance to be one of the Justice League heroes and blew it. Now she must deal with the consequences for that. It’s one thing to be confused and not take sides in the fight during the beginning (Which is still murky) but Hawkgirl’s been fighting alongside the League for a very long time. She knows that they are not villains and has no reason to doubt them. When the Thanagarians explain that the League is not being cooperative, Hawkgirl should have immediately helped the League. With or without her, they should have won the initial skirmish, but siding with the Thanagarians was the part that sealed the deal on Hawkgirl’s status as a traitor. That was when she crossed the line.

On a side note, I don’t like how she was able to find the Batcave. That’s a little too much hype. Sure, she’s a spy, but this is Batman that we’re talking about. You can’t find his base so easily. Hawkgirl may have tried to help in the end, but that’s what we call “Too little Too Late” It’s one of the main reasons why Hawkgirl is my least favorite member of the core Justice League. Still way better than Green Gullible Arrow though. I was never able to root for her again after this.

I’d also like to note that I was thrilled by the fact that the Justice League was able to get free without Hawkgirl’s help. It would have been a little insulting if they had needed her to break free and instead it was Wonder Woman who was able to initiate the escape. It’s also in character since Wonder Woman is a warrior born and raised. The next best candidate would have been Batman and he’s always pulling off things like this so I’m fine with the switch. Notice that Wonder Woman freed Batman first. The scene where the Justice League broke out was one of the best parts of the film. It was a great fight scene and definitely the moment where the League began to get the upper hand.

Back to Wonder Woman, her role here was really good and she actually outshone most of the League. In one scene, the Thanagarians are picking on some humans and Wonder Woman decides to step in. Similar to the time travelling adventure in Unlimited where she broke someone out of jail. Being impulsive is always a good trait for a hero and you’ve always got a duty to protect people even when it’s tricky. Batman is usually willing to let the villains have their way for a little while before stepping in so that he can win in the end, but that’s not Wonder Woman’s plan of action. Of course, it helps when you have god-like abilities. She’s certainly the MVP here.

Of course, this is the Justice League. They all look really good in the film with the exception of Hawkgirl. Green Lantern may have been suckered, but he does a good job of getting past that and helping to save the world. I really don’t think that his Power Ring can be sliced in half like how it was in the film though. Power Rings don’t break, no matter what kind of magic disruptor hits them. It doesn’t even run on magic after all. Flash’s role is a little smaller than some of the others, but he’s a solid hero as always. When he actually lets loose with his speed, he’s able to take down a lot of the fighters at once.

Martian Manhunter actually looks a little bad as well when you consider that he never told anyone how Hawkgirl’s mind was impervious to telepathy. A little sketchy eh, but trusting in your comrades is not necessarily a bad thing. He also went all out against the general and nearly broke him as he figured out how to use the controls. Running straight into a laser was a little iffy and he didn’t do as well as the other League members, but he did fine. Batman is Batman. As always he came up with the plan of action and even provided the safe hideaway for the heroes. Without Batman, the heroes would not have known about the Thanagarian’s true purpose for a little longer. (Again, it makes Hawkgirl look uncharacteristically naive not to realize what was happening though. I just can’t buy the explanation that she thought she was in the right)

Superman was sadly taken out of the first fight right away, but he bounced back and showed the Thanagarians why they call him Superman. He could have probably taken out the whole army on his own if necessary. This is still the greatest portrayal of Superman and seeing him in the DCAU universe is always great. Of course, his big character arc would soon start in Unlimited so the character won’t be going anywhere. Hro Talak’s a fine main villain I suppose. I like the character design although I naturally think that he could have been cooler without the romance with Hawkgirl. The film had quite a bit of romance with Hro Talak, John Stewart, and Hawkgirl, but luckily it didn’t take up too much of the film. It was also mostly the drama part of the romance that was in the film as well since tensions split them all the whole time. That’s the best way to handle romance so I’ll give the film some props for that.

Finally, I’ve got to give the government props for trying to fight back. They didn’t look so good and it would have been cool for them to have done some major damage, but they didn’t hesitate and went to back up the Justice League once and for all. It makes you wonder how things changed so much for the Cadmus days. For all we know, it had already started though. Whether the government trusts the Justice League or not, they were the best chance during the Thanagarian Invsion so it makes sense that they would team up. Still, I’ve always liked how the government aides the Justice League and it’s definitely the ideal situation. When an alien invasion comes knocking, then you have the government along with the Justice League. Again, I feel like the government should have been able to put up more of a fight since they’ve been shown to have some really high tech armaments in the past. It’s a mild complaint though and the general did his country proud.

This won’t come as a surprise, but the soundtrack is very good for this film. I believe that it’s the first time that the big opera theme comes into play. It happens in this film during the final fight with Green Lantern and the leader of the Thanagarians and it also played in Justice League Unlimited when Doomsday was kicking Superman’s can. Seeing the main theme is also good and the theme that plays when the Justice League are evading the authorities is classic. I’ve seen this film so many times that I can basically play out any scene in my head and even remember the music. It’s the sign of a true classic.

Naturally, the animation is also quite good as well. Like the show, Starcrossed’s animation has really held up through the years and I still consider it to have some of the best animation in all of somics. It’s definitely hard to top and you can really feel the action scene. Each blow has weight behind it and that’s something that newer films have a hard time of matching at times. Apparently one scene has some recycled footage, but you definitely wouldn’t notice that while watching it. The character designs are all on point as expected.

Overall, Justice League Starcrossed is a superb film and one of DC’s all time best. It loses to Justice League Crisis on Two Earths, but that is probably it. I’d put this at second followed closely by Batman/Superman Public Enemies. This was the perfect way to wrap up the Justice League series and start the Unlimited Saga. I’m sure that everyone was saddened to see the end of an era but it signalled another bright time just about to begin. If you’ve never seen this film before, then I highly recommend that you fix that transgression. All comic book fans should watch this film to see how you handle an alien invasion and why the Justice League shall never be surpassed as the ultimate comic book team. It’ll also get you hyped for the upcoming Batman vs Superman film since that will be a prelude of sorts to Justice League.

Overall 9/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

JLA The Deluxe Edition Volume 1 Review

JLA Volume 1
All right, it’s time to read a Justice League comic! Not one of the really old ones or the New 52. This is the Justice League as they were meant to be seen from one of their classic incarnations. No Hal Jordan or Barry Allen so I’ll have to wait to read a comic with the full cast in all their glory, but there replacements are ready to step into their shoes. It was as much fun as I could have expected and I actually remember flipping through this comic in Barnes & Noble back in the day. This volume is always in stores and spoiler alert: I recommend checking this one out as soon as possible!

The main chunk of the story is about the Martian Invasion. A group of martians have come from space claiming to help the planet. They have added water to the desert for starters. Superman warns the world that these are merely “cosmetic changes” as he says and disrupting such a big part of the world will have dangerous side effects. For some reason, the humans are not listening to him. It turns out that they are being mind controlled by the martians, which is severely impacting them all. The Justice League assemble and realize that they must stop this intergalactic threat. It’s only the first issue and the stakes have never been higher!

After that starting arc, we get some mini stories and the collection even brings a bonus issue that shows how the league formed. That’s pretty neat and who doesn’t like to see the League form right? Then we have the second arc which has some more of those religious themes that we’ve been wanting. Another angel is planning to rebel like Lucifer so he has come to Earth because another angel wants to leak his plans. Can the League defeat this being who may be too much for them to comprehend? Time to find out! (There’s also an issue with the Key in it…I’m just saying!)

Let’s look at the members of the Justice League before really getting into the arc. We’ll start with Superman as this is him in all of his glory. He acts like the commanding leader that he should be. The curls look from this era is also classic. I remember owning his action figure a while back. Nothing beats his standard look from the DCAU, but he probably does look a little tougher here with that mean hair style. I certainly have no qualms with his appearance here. He realizes that he is being tricked with a fake kryptonite through hypnotic suggestion and he is able to break out of his prison. It gives his intelligence credit and all of the leaguers certainly respect his impressive abilities. At one point, he randomly switches into his thunder look. You could say that his death took place between two of the issues, which accounts for the random change. We get a mini comic where we see him tryout for the team, which is pretty fun. He may not have his strength anymore, but his thunder abilities essentially give him the same effect. His personality is a little different as he’s more cocky now, but with all of the retcons around, that’s not even too unusual at this point

Batman also looks great and this is one of his better appearances. As expected, Batman is a beast when he has prep time. He manages to sneak into the watchtower and stay there for an hour before he finally had to let the League know that he had been there the whole time. He has an interesting laugh/chuckle which is spelled “hh” and it works well. Maybe it’s more of a scowl effect. Either way, Batman has some epic moments. He also shows the others how to deal with the Starro and he takes on 4 Martians by himself. That’s more than the rest of the league put together, which is awesome. Yes, it’s good to see Batman getting his respect.

Wonder Woman’s role is not as big as the first two, but she looks good during the comic. She wins her matchup with relative ease and brings Aquaman on board to help even the odds. This was before the New 52 push where she was upgraded to Superman level so she’s not quite as impressive power wise, but that’s why she’s an expert in hand to hand combat. It helps to tip the scales. She’s definitely still one of the big three for DC. Aquaman’s role is a lot smaller and I can’t say that he looked very impressive. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference if he was not here. Still, his ability to give a person a seizure by thinking about it is pretty neat. I wonder if we actually inherited part of our brain from fish or if that just applies to martians. Either way, it’s interesting.

The Flash does a good job of living up to the reputation of the original scarlet speedster. He’s still not as brilliant as Barry, but few are. He still knows a good deal about the speed force and uses this to defeat the Martian speedster. None are as fast as the Flash and he made sure to prove this in the battle. Wally West can be a fun hero to root for and I liked this portrayal of him. He was strong and dependable as a Flash should be. It’s a little hard to buy the fact that a Starro managed to jump him, but I’ll just say that he was shocked and leave it at that.

As for Green Lantern, this is Kyle Rayner and not Hal Jordan. I certainly miss Hal since he’s still my favorite Lantern. Kyle does well, but he is the flirting kind of guy, which is a little unfortunate. It holds him back from being easy to root for. His constructs have more of an effect on the holy beings in the latter stories than most of the other heroes, which is interesting. His ring is still supposed to be the most powerful weapon in the universe so it’s nice to see it getting some props. It is no longer weak against the color yellow so Kyle has no weaknesses now. As long as he remembers to focus, there are few who can stop him.

It’s another story with the Martian Manhunter. In this story, the Martians are weaker against fire than ever before. An exploding car would destroy Martian Manhunter if it hit and being near fire causes a martian to lose all of its powers like Superman being near Kryptonite. Batman uses this to his advantage when he goes up against the Martians, but it’s a huge risk. The Manhunter was tempted by these martians, but in the end he made the right call and helped the League out. I would have preferred for him to have helped the League win from the start, but at least the plan worked.

It’s also a good thing that the civilians in DC world are typically more reasonable than on the Marvel side. There were around 70 more martians so the humans had to fend for themselves against a good deal of them. It’s a good thing that they all had their lighters and matches at the ready. When together, even humans can manage to put up a pretty decent defense.

So, the first arc was a blast and a half. The Martians were powerful and a real threat. It’s good that the Justice League is so formidable because none of these guys are throwaway villains. The weakest member is still like a weakened Superman so all of the League members have to stay alert. Their true forms are also nice and sinister. This is another reason why I don’t think the Avengers would have lasted here. The weakest Justice League member is probably Martian Manhunter here and he could still take out most of the Core Avengers…most, if not all. If the Martian group attacked the Avengers, Thor and Hulk are probably the only members who could hold their own. The rest would be speedblitzed and then it would be 8 against 2. Hardly a fair fight.

The angel chapter was interesting. I really just had fun listening to the hype. Simply walking onto Earth would be enough to destroy it. This didn’t happen as the hype fell through, but it was nice to hear. The angels can create barriers that none can breach and everyone looked on with great respect as Superman managed to wrestle the being. The air from the angel’s world would make people blow up, the sights would destroy our eyes, the music would damage our ears, etc. Basically, the angels admit that we should stick to Earth and our galaxy before heading to their plane. The hype was awesome and the villain was certainly very powerful….but the overhype was strong in this issue. On the bright side, the Presence was actually mentioned! It’s rare that the One Above All’s DC counterpart is mentioned so that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, he couldn’t appear to stop the angels because they tricked him. They made an impossible event occur at the beginning of creation to keep the Presence busy fixing the problem. At least they acknowledged his existence, which is more than most comics do at this point.

The art is in the big and bold 90’s style. That means that everyone looks really powerful and intense. Unfortunately, it also means that the artists can get a little lazy with the details. Characters will make odd facial expressions and just look off during various parts of the comics. I love the action scenes for this style, but the talking scenes can certainly use some work. On the bright side, you will always feel a certain sense of amazement and intrigue with this style. You just know that you’re in store for some epic brawls!

Overall, This was a solid start to this JLA series. The characters are in character and the action scenes were great. The Martians made for powerful opponents for the League and the Angel beings from the stars weren’t bad either. I’m definitely going to miss Superman’s classic look as his thunder form will likely stick around for a while, but I suppose that his new form is still good to an extent as well. There is one unnecessary scene as we meet a random guy during the tryouts who just turns out to be a perv so I don’t see how anyone recommended him for that event, but luckily he’ll never appear again. This volume really embodies how I picture a Justice League comic. The roster is one of their strongest ones to date and all of the issues are a lot of fun. I’ve probably read more Marvel comics than DC ones at this point, but DC will always be much more interesting and thought provoking than Marvel’s for me. This volume reminds me of why that is as it’s just so awesome to see the Justice League tackle all incoming threats. Time to get hyped for Batman vs Superman all over again! I highly recommend checking out this graphic novel and you won’t regret tuning in to the intensity that is the JLA. I’m not sure when I’ll be reading another big DC adventure like this one, but the bar has certainly been set rather high.

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Justice League 3000 Volume 1 Yesterday Lives Review

Booooooooooooooo. Okay, Justice League 3000 wasn’t terrible, but it was certainly pretty bad. This is a plot that had a lot of potential and it was a little similar to Future’s End. Unfortunately, the series couldn’t live up to its potential and you can tell that things are going south right from the get go. I just don’t understand why the writers made some of the decisions that they did.

It has been ages since the Justice League formed. The year is now 3000 and the universe is essentially ruled by The Five. They are super villains who did what no other ever could, they conquered everything. If a hero tries to rise up, they just blow up his/her planet and move on. The only thing that stands in their way is Cadmus and they aren’t much better. Cadmus is basically what’s left of the government. The only problem is that they have no real heroes and there are spies everywhere. Nowhere is safe from them! Cadmus decides to change this by bringing the famous Justice League back to life. They do this by placing their DNA in normal humans, so that the DNA takes over the vessel and essentially becomes the hero. With the exception of Cyborg, The New 52 Justice League roster is back…with some changes. Can they defeat The Five and liberate their future?

The plot should have been good, but it just didn’t work out. The main reason is the twist that the heroes have lost some key memories so they are not acting as they once did. Superman is now much meaner than usual and he’s about as likable as the average horror film protagonist. He’s extremely unintelligent and he basically acts like a cave man. Wonder Woman is back to being extreme in her views on how she strongly dislikes all men and likes to slaughter any foe she comes across. Green Lantern, Batman, and the Flash are mostly like their usual selves although Batman doesn’t mind cracking a joke once in a while. It essentially plays out like a fanfic and that’s the last thing that I could have wanted here.

Superman is also badly nerfed to help move the plot along. He can no longer fly and his physical abilities seem to be a lot worse as well. Wonder Woman and Superman were getting crushed by a goddess, one of The Five, and that’s something that I can’t see happening to their true New 52 selves. This lady may be strong, but one simply doesn’t take out the top 2 Justice League members so easily. The humiliation doesn’t end there as the strongest member of The Five, a Reality Warper, defeats the League with ease. Already, you can tell that this is going to be the kind of series where the heroes are on the run for the whole time and that can certainly get old rather quickly.

Towards the second half of the graphic novel, Firestorm joins the ranks and the sad thing is that he’s the most likable member of the team. It’s just sad because he’s essentially a villain here as his mind is even more corrupted than the other members. He wants to slaughter anyone who gets in his path and luckily he has the power to do it. His abilities come in handy against the villains, but it’s too bad that he couldn’t have kept his moral compass along the way. Ah well, at least the Justice League has one member who can fight.

Let’s talk about The Five. One of their members is named Locus and she appears to be the strongest member by far. She is the reality warper that I mentioned and her abilities are limitless. The only way to beat her is to knock her out before she can form a thought Naturally, this leads to plot hax whenever she has to fight and cannot win at the moment. She’s a psycho, but I’m sure that we expected this. Kali is a warrior whose strength seems to surpass that of Superman and Wonder Woman’s. Both of these villains have yet to be on the losing edge of a fight aside from a knockout blow from behind and Firestorm’s impressive debut. Convert is one of the more useful members of The Five even if he’s not a fighter. He invades people like a plague or the Phalanx. He currently controls billions of people across the universe and he can literally turn an entire population against you by controlling them. Finally, we have Coeval who attacks from the cyber world. He seeks to weaken the wills of the heroes by playing on their doubts.

Naturally, to be The Five, those 4 need a leader. He does end up appearing at the end of the graphic novel and it should come across as a decent surprise. It certainly makes things look a little dicier for the heroes as there is not much they can do about the situation anymore. The leader is probably the weakest member aside from Coeval as the average human could probably beat him, but I’m sure that the leader will dig up a robot somewhere to finish the job.

Technically, it’s a good idea to have a supervillain team to face the League. Kali and Locus were good starts even if they were overpowered, but the other members can’t fight, which limits the potential. One thing that hurts the comic is the natural need for it to be gritty. A lot of Superman’s lines revolve around him flirting, making suggestive comments or threatening to hurt people. Locus literally rips one of the heroes to shreds and while the page has a lot of energy and spacial effects to distract you, the scene is much more violent than it needs to be. We have the classic Man of Steel moment as well to make sure that the comic covered all of the bases. An eye stab also happens and nothing Narutoesque happens since the opponent is basically invurlnable, but I always found that to be a rather dirty fighting technique that crosses the lines of justice and injustice.

Really, the comic just isn’t that good. Even the art isn’t up to par with the high level of quality that DC is known for. It helps that the character designs are mostly lacking. Only Batman’s looks good from the original team although Firestorm joins him later on. Green Lantern’s cloak is cool, but without it, he doesn’t have a very good design. The fight scenes are where the art shines, but there aren’t many true fight scenes to see so this is pretty limited.

It goes without saying that the writing isn’t very good either. Meanwhile, it has certainly been a long time since the year 2000, but I find it hard to believe that some of this happened. How could the Five conquer the galaxy and the Green Lantern race was eliminated so easily? I don’t buy it and I don’t see how Earth fell so quickly as well considering that we have such an unstoppable army of superheroes. Locus is strong, but Kali would be defeated by a good fighter like Supergirl or Darkseid and the rest of the team could seriously be beaten by the Teen Titans. Where’s Lex Luthor when you need him!?

This is only the first volume so the series still has some hope, but it’s going to have to move quickly. For starters, the series should not try to be as dark and gritty as can be. Right now, the heroes really have no hope unless they can revive the other heroes, but what then? Even if they defeat The Five, they’re living in a future where just about everything was eradicated. It’s not going to be much of a life. Toning down the dark atmosphere should be enough to tip the scales, but the comic also needs to make the Justice League a whole lot more likable. Superman’s already getting some development, which is a start, but we’re going to need the writers to accelerate the process.

Overall, I currently don’t see the point of this title. The future is grim and the heroes must save the day again, but this kind of story has already been done and with much greater efficiency. Typically, a future story is extremely interesting and that’s what keeps you reading. The new villains have conquered to be sure, but the heroes are still ready to deal out some damage. Here, the writers have stacked the deck so much in the villain’s favor that the heroes really do not stand a chance. Locus just has to think and they’re all dead. So, there’s literally no way that they should win and the amount of plot hax in future issues is going to be immense. Just check out the time travel episode in Justice League Unlimited and you’ll witness what this comic should have been like. Likewise, Hitman Reborn had an arc with this kind of plot that was infinitely superior. The heroes should have definitely been in character and I guarantee that this comic would have been much more enjoyable. Well, if I do check out volume 2 anytime soon, we’ll see if the series will have managed to improve. As of now, I recommend checking out Superman Unchained instead as it’s an epic action story with some guest stars to help you out as well.

Overall 4/10