Sunday, April 13, 2008

Justice League: The New Frontier—A FanBoyWonder Review

The Upshot From Warner Home Video: Based on the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and produced by Michael Goguen and animation legend, Bruce Timm, Justice League: The New Frontier is the epic tale of the founding of the Justice League.

The New Frontier takes viewers on an action-packed adventure, exploring the origins of the Justice League. DC Comics legends Superman (Kyle Maclachlan), Batman (Jeremy Sisto) and Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless) are all featured in the film as well as Green Lantern (David Boreanaz), Martian Manhunter (Miguel Ferrer) and The Flash (Neil Patrick Harris)–as they band together to form the legendary super team.

Strangers at first, these very different heroes must overcome fear and suspicion to forge an alliance against a monster so formidable, even the mighty Superman cannot stop it alone. If they fail, the entire planet will be “cleansed” of humanity.

It was only until just recently—just before the release of the DVD—that we read Cooke’s New Frontier thanks to our best pal Kemosabe who lent us the two volume graphic novel trade paperback series so we know just how good the original material is.

We viewed this DVD a while ago but recent circumstances kept our review of the movie on the back burner until now but we’ve been chewing on it for a while now. We couldn’t help but be just a little disappointed—it was a good movie but it falls well short of the greatness of the original New Frontier graphic novel series by Darwyn Cooke.

Why? It wasn’t for lack of quality. Darwyn Cooke’s involvement in the adaptation of his own story made this movie top shelf but tragically incomplete. It was quiet simply impossible to squeeze all but the bare bones New Frontier plot into a 70 minute movie.

To our disappointment the John Henry vs. the KKK plot line was barely mentioned and the great confrontation between Superman and Wonder Woman in Indo-China lost much of its punch without the context that Cooke provides in his printed story.

Cooke’s interpretation of Hal Jordan—both in the graphic novel and in the movie—is among the best we’ve ever seen and it was clearly a highlight of the series—although we wish we saw more of Green Lantern in the movie.

Likewise, we enjoyed his take on The Flash and it was quite nostalgic to see Barry Allen in the red suit again. The movie did a quite impressive job of displaying Flash’s super speed, especially the old vibrating through solid objects trick—we had forgotten how much we had missed that old chestnut.

Justice League: The New Frontier is the second offering by DC Comics and Warner Home Video, preceded by last fall’s Superman: Doomsday. There was definite improvement from the previous film and they do seem to be getting better and we look forward to more.

Next up—Batman: Gotham Knight, coming July 8.


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