Justice League Doom is the 13th film in the DC Universe Animated series. 13 is often seen as a terrible number, does this film fall victim to its curse?
Justice League Doom is an adaption of JLA: Tower of Babel, but it is an adaption in the loosest sense of the word. Its like Dwayne McDuffie read the original story, and thought the central idea (Batman havingÂ contingencyÂ plans for the Justice League) was brilliant. He then went on his way of crafting his own story using that simple premise.
The story is broken up into a pretty easy 3-act format. It begins with the Justice League taking on the Royal Flush gang. It was an interesting fight scene, but part of it reminded me of the Justice League vs Royal Flush Gang from The Animated Series. However, we soon discover that the whole incident was just part of a larger plot (and really that seems to be the central idea here, everything is just a distraction for the grand scheme) as Mirror Master has hitched a ride in the Batmobile.
The second act of the movie, and perhaps the most interesting is watching the Legion of Doom systemically take down the members of the Justice League. This is the part of the movie that has the most in common with the comic. Some of the plans are pretty much ripped from the comic, the way Batman is taken care of, the way Martian Manhunter is dealt with for example. While others feature modified versions of the comic, which I think works better. For example in the comic, Wonder Woman is taken out ofÂ commissionÂ due to a chip in her head that makes her dream that she is in a never-ending battle that will eventually over-exert her heart and kill her. In the movie, she is poisoned to believing that everyone she encounters is Cheetah. The same basic idea, but she is fighting to the bitter end while taking out actual people.
Superman and Green Lantern are handled very differently in the movie. Green Lantern makes a lot of sense since this adaption went with Hal Jordan instead of Kyle Raynor, both have vastly different personalities. Hal’s plot is a bit more complicated, but it makes sense. Though, it makes for one head-scratching moment, which may or may not be cleared up during the explanation at the end.
Superman’s scene is just made a lot more simply and streamlined really. Sometimes, the best plans are the simplest to enact.
The final act if of course the Justice League versus The Legion of Doom. This again brings us some cool action set-pieces. Was a bit disappointed that they never mixed up the duos. Superman fights Metallo, Wonder Woman fights Cheetah, etc.
The three act structure is fairly basic, but it works. Each one is part of a larger scheme, which all does build up to the climax. Like I said, I felt the 2nd act was the strongest and most interesting part of the movie, which kind of weakens the general impact. The beginning and end are strong, but just not as memorable as the middle so the overall movie is left with a so-so impression.
The animation of the film is solid, but after 12 other films, it just doesn’t seem special. It lacks the punch and scale of Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. It doesn’t have the style or smooth animation like All-Star Superman and Batman: Under the Red Hood. Â Some of the characters also look off, mostly Superman who just has such an odd shaped head in this movie. There was also like this soft-glow to the whole film or maybe it was just my eyes.
The real shining point of this production was always going to be the voice-cast. Having the original gang from the Justice League (Sans Superman who is played by Tim Daly from Superman: The Animated Series and Nathan Filiion as Green Lantern) was like coming home again. While Kevin Conroy always excite in Batman, I want to give a special note to Michael Rosenbaum who plays The Flash. Partially because the Barry Allen Flash is so different than the Wally West Flash he played on Justice League, but he does the role just as much justice. It was also interesting that Carl Lumbly portrayed Martian Manhunter, also doubled for his own villian,Â Ma’alefa’ak. It does create an interesting dynamic.
The music was also top notch, I feel like Christopher Drake doesn’t get enough credit for these films, but I’ve been a huge fan of his style for some time, and he just continues to knock it out of the park with these movies. While I still think Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is his best work, this is rather up there with the energy you need for such big time characters. Its worth a listen on its own!
Recommendation: Rent It- Overall, I think the entire package was pretty solid, but not remarkable. The strongest point of the movie is the middle section, and the beginning and end may leave a bit to desire. I also felt that Cyborg was shoe-horned into the movie and never really felt like he belonged.
The emotional weight of Batman’s actions aren’t felt as strongly as they were in the comics, and I guess that’s because the movie needs a clear ending point. It is worth checking out, but not sure if its worth a day one purchase.