Review: Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

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Justice League Throne of Atlantis (JLTOA) is another solid DC Universe Original Movie (DCUOM) from the folks at Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment. It seems to me as though these movies get stronger and stronger. But in a weird way, that doesn’t mean “better and better.”

Let me explain.

First and foremost, the creative team deserves to be praised. They’ve accomplished something very, very difficult. If only for a few minutes, they managed to make Aquaman appear to be the biggest badass in the DC universe.

Now I don’t mean to offend any of the 17 Aquaman fans out there… But let’s face it…

In a world where you have Batman, Deathstroke, Doomsday, and the Joker, it’s not always easy to make a guy who talks to fish seem cool.

Here’s the official synopsis, as per Warner Bros. Home Entertainment:

In Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Cyborg discovers an imminent threat in the depths of the oceans so powerful that it rallies together the newly formed Justice League. Meanwhile, wandering thousands of feet above the ocean floor is drifter Arthur Curry, a man with strange powers who may be the last chance to bridge the ancient Atlantean world with our own. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League must band together as they face off against warmongering Orm, an army of sea creatures, otherworldly weapons and perilous odds. In this all-new epic adventure from the DC Universe, mankind’s only hope of escaping from the darkness lies with the guiding light of a man – Aquaman! 

Sounds pretty cool, right? Here’s my take on it…

The main story being told in JLTOA is the origin and rise to power of Arthur Curry. Think of it as a sort of “Aquaman Begins,” but with the rest of the Justice League already established. Speaking of the Justice League, the other (arguably more important) story in play is the coming together of an inexperienced, reluctant Justice League.

We find out that the Justice League, by and large, are mainly a bunch of self-centered jerks. Superman and Wonder Woman are consumed by their budding romance. Green Lantern is chasing tail. Shazam/Captain Marvel is off being a creepy man-child. Flash is being Flash. And Batman… Well, that one’s obvious.

The only real full-time “member” of the Justice League is Cyborg. It creates a cool tension at the beginning of the film that continues to run successfully throughout. What it does particularly well is make you question if this “team” can come together for the greater good of the planet in the face of an unbelievable threat… And if the Justice League is really even capable of existing, or if it was all just a one-time deal (with awesome merchandising opportunities for everyone involved).

What I like most about this movie, other than the fact that it’s the Justice League, is that they’re willing to push the boundaries of “cartoons.” And they’ve been doing it since the introduction of Batman in Justice League: New Frontier.

For instance, there is blood. Often. There are a few decapitations. And they’re really cool. Most “offensive” of all, there’s even an “S-Bomb” (read: shit) dropped the first time we meet Batman. I know. It’s madness!

The point is, JLTOA continues a very cool tradition of mature, darker, and all around more entertaining material than most animated endeavors that came before it… DC or otherwise.

Now I’ll admit, Aquaman isn’t my favorite character. And the plot does tend to drag a little bit in the second and third acts. The voice acting, at times, is pretty terrible. But they made Aquaman interesting as a character. I cared about his story arc. They made him dark. Gave him purpose. Which, as I said, it’s not something that’s easy to do for the average, non-comic fans. Not to harp on it… But homeboy talks to fish.

As you’ve come to expect, there’s also a slew of special features to look forward to:

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Blu-RayTM contains the following special features:

  • Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep – Every great film needs a great musical score. Filled with emotion, music takes us on a dynamic journey as we adventure with the hero. Throne of Atlantis takes us on that quest through the eyes of Arthur Curry.
  • Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence – Producer James Tucker provides video commentary for this exciting bonus sequence where Robin and Nightwing join forces.
  • Throne of Atlantis: 2014 New York Comic Con Panel – The entire, lively one-hour panel discussion between actor Matt Lanter, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa and dialogue director Andrea Romano. (We were there. No big deal!)
  • Villains of the Deep – From Ocean Master to Black Manta to King Shark, each villain operates from his own deep sense of conviction, presenting an incredible challenge for the hero in Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. This documentary goes into the biographical details of the villains.
  • A Sneak Peak at Batman vs. Robin – An advance look at the next DC Universe Original Movie with the creators and cast.
  • Bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis DVD contains the following special features:

  • A Sneak Peak at Batman vs. Robin – An advance look at the next DC Universe Original Movie with the creators and cast.
  • Bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault

When all is said and done, if this is the path DC and Warner Bros. plan to continue upon with their animation (and it is), I’m very excited for what the future holds. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis may not be your favorite offering from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, but it’s a very big step in the right direction as far as setting tone and continuity for future releases go. Definitely worth a rental if not a purchase to add to your collection.

3.5 / 5

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis delivers more of the ass-kicking animation we’ve come to expect from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment… All while making Aquaman feel like the king of the ocean–not a b-level throwaway character. It hits some rough patches, but overall is a solid addition to any collection.

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