Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Justice League Throne of Atlantis Review

Well, the sequel to Justice League War has finally arrived. I was not thrilled with the shift into the New 52 lineup from the start and this title definitely doesn’t help. It’s easily the worst Justice League film to date and that’s a pretty sad title to achieve. With such a great cast, it isn’t hard to make any Justice League film an elite, but this just shows how important a good writing staff/director is. All right, let’s look at why this film didn’t succeed.

A submarine is travelling through the waters when the crew is murdered by several underwater beings. The missiles are stolen so the Justice League is brought in to investigate. Meanwhile, Prince Orm is riling up Atlantis to go and face the surface dwellers. The Queen is keeping him in check, but for how long? Aquaman must leave the life that he has led on the surface to realize his destiny as an Atlantean. The players are all moving towards the climax where a confrontation shall be had!

For this review, I’m going to do some damage control before I get into the many negatives. One positive is that Batman doesn’t get hit during the film. He may as well be invincible since nobody can stop him. The flip side to this is that Batman never even gets to throw a punch this time. He’s basically in this film for star power since he doesn’t really have a role. He looks pretty good in his scenes, which is a plus. He gives up a little quickly on the flooding issue, but that just shows how dicey the situation was.

Another positive for the film is the animation. It still looks pretty good like in Justice League War. The battle scenes all flow pretty smoothly and there isn’t really anything negative to say about the animation. The character designs are another matter. They all look below average to be honest and it’s like they aren’t even trying in the New 52. Superman’s is probably the worst, but there’s something about GL’s that just isn’t appealing. At least, compared to his real uniform. Aquaman looks good, but he doesn’t have much of a costume to change here.

Are there more positives? Well, I’m sure we’ll find some as we go through the negatives. It’s time for some real talk folks so strap yourselves in because this roller coaster is about to begin its free fall! It’s hard to know where to start, but let’s begin with the romance section. Having Wonder Woman and Superman get together is completely pointless and it’s insulting to the fans. I grew up with the classic days where Superman made sure to keep everyone in the friend zone. He was firm about this so that villains couldn’t use his friends as targets. That was the Superman that I know. His pairing with Wonder Woman is wince worthy at best and it makes both of the characters look pretty awful here. More on that during their individual sections. Cyborg randomly gets a pairing as well and it’s just as sad. Superheroes don’t need rushed romances to keep the audience engaged and it just makes things sadder for us…the fans!

DC’s decided that their new films are going to be a lot more violent than the older ones. This started out with Flashpoint and I’m sure that we all remember the films that came afterwards. Well, Throne of Atlantis tries to compete with those as the blood runs like water here. The fight scenes will make you think that you’re watching Mortal Kombat considering how many beheadings and diemembering appear in the film. Everyone gets stabbed at some point. Superman begins to bleed for no real reason when he gets zapped by the staff and let’s not forget the hand to hand scenes. The film adds some noises like the sound of a jaw breaking to make the scenes more “intense.” Aquaman really beats up on the normal joes and it’s the kind of fight scene that could easily be done without the extra effects. DC says gritty and I say unnecessary. The overload of violence is just distracting and it really takes away from the film. It definitely makes the title unsuitable for kids and it is definitely a very strong PG 13 so you’ll want to be careful with your teenagers as well. It’s probably not the most violent DC film to date, but it certainly tries hard to achieve that spot. So, the fights are pretty streamlined and flashy, but the violence hurts them pretty badly. They may be trying to send a message to Marvel’s animated features, but this blurs that message.

The writers also seemed to want to suck the philosophical questions that the comic had so they made Prince Orm a one dimensional villain. He is not a nice guy by any stretch of the imagination and he’s just your average super villain who wants to destroy everything. Once he gets the staff of power, he just goes around beating everyone up. His design also looks pretty fake as if the film is adding insult to injury. You’ll probably want to boo him off the stage since he’s so generic and not very intimidating.

Black Manta is also here, but he doesn’t serve much of a purpose either. He gets a brief fight with Aquaman, but he is humiliated and we remember that the Aquaman hype train will not be derailed until the next film. for quite a while. I’m fine with it since that’s handled pretty well, but Black Manta should have known that he was outmatched. He was just very sub par here.

That transitions into another area where the film needed some help. The writing. We’ve got violence, but that doesn’t make the film gritty enough right? Time to throw in some language! There aren’t many big swears, but the ones that are there were definitely added to show how edgy the villains are. Black Manta and a throwaway villain in Gotham just use the word for no discernible reason. They’re just using it because they can and I always attribute that to bad writing. The writers of today sometimes realize that they can’t match the ones from the Bogart and Bacall days so they don’t even bother. Adding in swear words is one of the ultimate cop outs.

The movie is definitely a lot different from the original comic and unfortunately, it is much worse. We don’t really get any action scenes since most of the “fights” just result in the Leaguers decimating hundreds of mindless monsters or watching the flip side of that. The only real fight for the League is at the end against Ocean Master and that one’s wince worthy due to plot hax. The movie also takes away any sense of danger since they erase the flood scene. It’s odd because it’s hyped up as the villains bring a giant tsunami towards Metropolis, but then they just part the waves dramatically and decide to attack the city on foot. It’s probably one of the most foolish decisions that I have ever seen in a film and it’s embarrassing for them. There is literally no point to using such a tactic and you’re basically giving the heroes a chance to fight back this way. Batman’s big “People are going to die” moment from the comic just doesn’t work this time since only a few soldiers are taken out during the battle. Not quite the amount of casualties that we were expecting huh? Cyborg’s drama about going through with the operation to replace his lung? It’s taken out here as he just says yeah from the start. The film wanted to speed along through everything.

The pacing is very quick, but a little too much so this time. The film is barely over an hour so it rushes through Aquaman’s origin so that they can have Ocean Master take the stage. This results in every area of the film feeling rushed since nothing is developed so that they can go to the next scene. The Justice League get the shaft at times because of this and you’ll find yourself just waiting for them to come back. The longest draught is when Batman and Superman leave to investigate. They don’t appear again for what feels like 10-15 minutes since it’s time for Aquaman’s subplot. This is the kind of film that should have easily been 2 hours and I think that it would have helped the film tremendously.

One of the biggest problems is the power level issues that are found here. Wonder Woman lands a direct punch on Ocean Master and it does virtually no damage while Aquaman is able to land some killer blows. Wonder Woman is stronger than Aquaman and the opening scene of the film practically proves this. Aquaman has trouble with random grunts and that’s pretty sad. They land a lot of hits and they don’t defeat Aquaman, but he certainly doesn’t look as strong as Wonder Woman or Superman. Superman looks particularly terrible as he is beaten down two times without doing any real damage. The first time, he grabs Ocean Master’s scepter….big mistake. He is quickly zapped and loses in a single blow. I think we can all agree that Superman doesn’t go down with one shot and especially not to someone like this. The Flash is naturally tripped and that sidelines him for the rest of the film. A random trip…he didn’t even get zapped! Green Lantern is swamped by minions like in War and when he breaks out he is quickly taken out with a zap. Cyborg is stabbed because he was too slow to dodge and Shazam gets one shotted by the lightning as well. (Shazam’s lightning did no damage of course) Aquaman gets in more hits than the rest of the Leaguers, but he is also stabbed and taken out of action.

Batman doesn’t get to fight Ocean Master, which may be a good thing since we can tell that the writers did not know what they were doing. Instead of a satisfying ending where one of the heroes beats Ocean Master, we basically just get a betrayal plot twist. (Not for the fans, but for the Atlanteans) This finishes with a blind side punch from one of the heroes. Now they can all remember how they were crushed but won with a sucker punch. That’s not a good way to end the film and it’s pretty depressing for the heroes. There is an after credit scene that has some potential for a good sequel, but we’ll see what arc this film tries to adapt. If it really is Trinity War, then it will likely be an even looser adaption this time around.

As I mentioned, Batman was kept in character here. Cyborg is still not very likable and he has a new subplot where he’s very cold to people. He’s a machine after all, but he eventually warms up to everyone and gets a romance going. That was pretty terrible. Shazam still looks really bad and his voice is very high pitched. You can’t take him seriously and he doesn’t have the Wisdom of Shazam here. His character just doesn’t make sense as it’s still Billy’s mind just with an adult form. He looks pretty bad and he’s not likable either.

The Flash is basically perfect and it’s too bad that he doesn’t get to have more action scenes. He’s certainly one of the strongest members of the team and there is no opponent that should be confident of his chances against the speedster. Green Lantern is pretty similar to his portrayal in War, but he still seems to be portrayed as one of the weaker links. He doesn’t get beaten up on a lot like in the last film, but he still needs some work if he’s going to be a good hero. It’s sad because he is usually a great character, but I’ll have to say goodbye to that version.

Wonder Woman is technically good, but she really gets 0 character apart from the romance plot. We’re reminded that she is a good warrior when she is slashing away at the villains of course, but that’s about it. I just can’t forget that plot with Superman so she is certainly one of the least likable characters. This applies to Superman as well, who really seems like a shell of his former self. He talks about how he’s going to make one of the villains eat his weapon and it’s lines like that, which makes this new version of Superman hard to identify with. He talks tough, but he’s typically just showing off or getting beaten up. It’s hard to really be a fan of him here and he gets to sink just like Wonder Woman.

Aquaman looks pretty good here, but he does fall into the romance plot with Mera way too quickly. You have to realize that the film mostly takes place over the span of a single day…so that’s a reeeeally rushed romance. Aquaman doesn’t betray the League like he did in the comic so he’s a lot more heroic here. He does what needs to be done and Aquaman turns out to be a good fighter. There’s really nothing negative to say about him aside from the rushed romance. Likewise, Mera is certainly a capable fighter and she does well when needed. Her water abilities are very potent and they make her a lethal fighter to be up against.

Seeing the Justice League get to form for a second time was pretty fun. The film actually started out decently well with this plot since the daily trip to Gotham was pretty intense as per usual. Seeing GL go to fetch Batman was definitely in character since he wasn’t going to let the dark knight skip a meeting this time. Gotham always has a certain edge to it that distinguishes the city from the rest and we also get some of the best animation featured in that moment. Not bad Batman…not bad! It’s a little disappointing to see how irresponsible Superman and Wonder Woman were though. We can naturally understand why Batman and GL didn’t show up at the meeting, but why wouldn’t the power hitters come? You can make the case that they didn’t hear the signal…but that’s highly unlikely. Ah well, more time for those two characteres to sink I suppose.

Lois and Jimmy were two characters who had no purpose in this film, but it’s time for the review to start winding down. Ultimately, the film was just plagued with too many negatives for me to really call it a good film. Take away the Justice League and it’s probably a bad film. The iconic characters are what keeps it afloat,m but the actual handling of this otion picture just wasn’t up to par with what you would expect. The film is also extremely light on meaningful action and I would be disappointed if the upcoming live action film had a similar climax. I’m expecting big things from that title and I don’t want to be disappointed! There isn’t much of a soundtrack to be found here so I’ll skip that.

Overall, Throne of Atlantis is pretty disappointing. These could be dicey times for DC. The box art isn’t very good and it follows that live action feel that I’m not a fan of. The violence is way over the top to try to make the film gritty and I had problems with just about every scene. The final fight must be one of the most inaccurate moments in all of cinema. The animation looks nice and the main characters are mostly all pretty likable, but that’s just not good enough to help the film this time. I recommend just skipping this one and watching Crisis on Two Earths yet again. That film never gets old!

Overall 5/10

Comic Reviews, Reviews

Aquaman Volume 3 Throne of Atlantis Review

The Throne of Atlantis film is coming up soon so let’s take a look at the source material. I think DC could do better with other Justice League stories, but this is one of the best ones to pick if you want to start establishing Aquaman as a big player again. After all, he’s essentially the main character here so he gets a lot of screentime. It’s a fun Justice League story to read even if it’s not a game changer.

The collection starts off with a quick glimpse into Aquaman’s past and how he rejected the throne to live above ground. He had some adventures as he hid his powers and he just faded away into obscurity. Well, that doesn’t last long as Aquaman is forced back onto the field when the Atlanteans decide to attack the surface world. Gotham and Metropolis are some of the targets, but ultimately the human race itself is in the crossfire. The Justice League retaliate and Aquaman is forced to choose between his allies and his people.

The New 52 may get a lot of criticism from consumers, but the art has never been a problem. This graphic novel continues DC’s trend of having great art in its titles. It is easily still some of the best artwork in the business and you could almost read the graphic novel for that alone. The fight scenes really pop out at you and all of the character designs are spot on. There are no questionable looks (Superman in vs the Elite) that will have you take a step back. This is the Justice League as they were meant to be seen.

One of the big worries for this arc was the fact that there are no powerful villains in it. At least, this was a concern of mine. How would Superman even be challenged? (Rhetorical question as well since I was well aware of what would happen to him before I read the comic) Unfortunately, a not very subtle mix of plot hax and villain hype is the comic’s solution. Ocean Master even landing a hit on Batman is another story altogether! I think that the writers do need to be very careful when including villains who can’t even level a city to be the opponent of the Justice League. Keep in mind that Green Lantern and the Flash are busy so the Justice League is weakened at the moment, but the Atlanteans are not a threat.

They are a threat in the sense that they will do a lot of damage to the cities, but they aren’t a threat to the heroes. You won’t think for a second that they will be able to take out the superheroes. It’s just not going to happen. As for their invasion, they will deal a lot of damage, but the government in DC is actually pretty competent when necessary. I’m sure that Amanda Waller and her various groups of heroes/villains would be able to drive the invaders back. A lot of civilians would be taken out, but that part is inevitable since this is a war.

Naturally, this does affect the fight scenes. We actually don’t get a whole lot of action here. We have a brief dispute with Aquaman and a short fight with the Ocean Master at the end, but that’s about it. Most of the comic involves Aquaman’s history and the fight against the Atlanteans. The art and character portrayals still keep this as an above average comic with room to spare, but I would have liked to have seen some more action.

Batman’s portrayed very well as he’s still the smart member of the group and he’s not about to back down when the going gets tough. His role isn’t huge, but he still plays a pretty big role in protecting Gotham and getting Aquaman to see that what he’s doing is madness. His scene with Ocean Master does leave a lot to be desired though and it felt like the writers didn’t know how to actually make Batman lose. Truth be told, it’s a pretty tough feat to accomplish.

Superman also looks pretty great and we get to see a solid glimpse of his heat vision. The only problem is that his vaunted strength isn’t enough to help him endure a lightning blast when it should have been easy for him. If Batman could live through such a blast, there’s no way that Superman would be knocked out. Magic or no magic. (Wonder Woman was also knocked out and she has a pretty good immunity to magic so there’s that as well) Superman was definitely nerfed here, but his portrayal was still pretty spot on aside from one issue that I will address.

Wonder Woman has been upgraded to Superman level in the New 52 although some may try to say that she was always this strong. Wonder Woman has been tough for a long time, but her lack of speed has typically kept her a little under Superman’s level. Their speed seems to be more or less equalized under normal circumstances so she’s definitely a heavy hitter here. She seems to be a little quicker to strike with lethal blows as opposed to the rest of the League, but she is a warrior first and foremost. She was a pretty solid character as well, but she had the same negative as Superman.

The negative is the rushed romance between the two heroes. We don’t really need a Superman and Wonder Woman pairing since it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme of things. There’s just no point and teammates should know that it’s better to just stay friends rather than risking it all falling apart before their eyes. It’s simply not worth it and the comic didn’t need to add the romance to sell some more copies. I’m sure that sales were good enough and the brief spike wouldn’t last for very long. That was too bad.

Aquaman is the main character, but it’s hard to root for him at times. Choosing to attack the Justice League was not the right call. It’s true that he was actually making a little progress before they jumped in, but I doubt that the Ocean Master would have ultimately backed down. At that point, Aquaman just needed to follow Batman’s lead since the Dark Knight typically handles these situations pretty well. Aquaman is pretty tough and it’s good to see him actually trade blows with Superman and Wonder Woman, but I don’t think for a second that he could actually hold his own against them in a prolonged battle. I’m also unsure about his decision to just abandon Atlantis to live on the surface world. The whole thing was a little odd and you can’t help, but feel bad for the Atlanteans. It’s sad when you can sympathize more with the main villain than with the main character. Aquaman’s decision to banish Ocean Master to Earth was just adding insult to injury. Aquaman’s a good character overall, but you can’t forget how he was so quick to attack the Justice League. I wouldn’t trust him all that much after this if I was one of the heroes.

Ocean Master is the main villain and the comic portrayed him very differently than what you may be used too. He is played by another character into attacking the surface world and he’s really doing it to help the Atlanteans. He willingly stepped down from the throne the first time Aquaman went to Atlantis and he seems like a pretty reasonable villain. He was willing to talk to Aquaman during the war and he wasn’t the raving madman that you would have expected. He was calm and he made some valid points about how the surface world is always attacking the ocean. (BP does a good job of that on their own with the big oil spills!) I actually liked Ocean Master to a degree. He’s certainly not going to become one of my favorite DC villains, but he’s good enough to be an interesting antagonist and I’m wondering how the film is going to portray him. I have a feeling that he’ll be more evil and less sympathetic in the animated version, but I suppose that we’ll find out soon enough. He is very weak though so he needs a significant amount of plot hax during each of his fights. He’s really just a guy with mild super strength and a thunder staff.

Throne of Atlantis was a pretty fun Justice League adventure and if you just think of it as an Aquaman arc, then it’s probably the best one yet. I do miss the Flash and Green Lantern since the League is pretty incomplete without them. Cyborg gets a very brief role where he loses more of his humanity to save the league. It was supposed to be very emotional, but it didn’t seem too tragic when you really think about it since he didn’t lose any parts of his soul. This is still an Aquaman arc first and foremost so that’s one of the only reasons why it’s okay that the Justice League’s role was decently small at times. I do think that the government should have stepped in a little sooner with their super weapons to deal with the Atlanteans, but all’s well that ends well.

Overall, Throne of Atlantis is a pretty good story. There is not a whole lot of fight scenes to keep you occupied, but we have action in other ways like the giant flood that the Atlanteans cause when they start to invade. Ocean Master is actually a pretty compelling villain and aside from a brief romance between Superman and Wonder Woman, the Justice League were portrayed accurately. The artwork is stunning as always and there weren’t any really big negatives here. The collection was fun/decently long read from start to finish and I’m looking forward to seeing how the animated feature turns out. We already know that there will be some significant changes to it will be interesting to see how this affects things in the long run. Now’s your chance to see the New 52 Aquaman so this is a must read!

Overall 8/10