Monday, February 2, 2015

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Review

It's 2015,so let's start the year off right by talking about America's favorite superhero: Aquaman!

DC Comics has been in an iffy situation for the past couple of years. Their films have become increasingly irrelevant when Marvel dominates Hollywood, their comics have been controversial since the inception of the New 52, and most of their previous animated movies haven't exactly been smash hits. Some of them were good, but most of them were pretty average at best. What I'm trying to get at is that DC is no longer the top dog of the comic industry, which is sad. A lot of people bemoan DC and everything they've done in the past few years, but they have done some good things the past couple of years. They're taking a smart approach to creating live action TV shows for their series, and some New 52 comics are genuinely good. What I'm trying to get at is that Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a good movie. No one is ever going to see it, but it's still a good movie.

The biggest problem I've had with recent DC animated movies is that the material they base themselves off of aren't good in the slightest. Son of Batman was an underwhelming movie that was made worse with underwhelming character models and animation. Justice League: War was based off the incredibly slow and boring first arc of the New 52 Justice League series, which took almost a full year to become a consistently good series. The only good DC animated movie released recently was Batman: Assault on Arkham, which was pretty much a heist movie with the Suicide Squad in the Batman: Arkham universe. The original source material for Throne of Atlantis was based on the story line of the same name. It was a crossover between Justice League and Aquaman that was a massive, full scale war between Atlantis and Earth. The oceans were flooding major cities, thousands of lives were being lost, and it was the story line that gave Justice League the kick in its ass it needed to become good. In short, this was the first good Justice League story of the New 52.

In Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, the movie serves as an origin for Aquaman. When we first meet him, he's a drunk who spends his time talking to lobsters in a bar by the docks. By the end of the movie, he's fighting against a corrupt Atlantean king that manipulated his servants into attacking the human world. So in other words, the giant war of the comic book that lasts for six issues only takes place in the last fifteen minutes or so of the movie.

The biggest problem that this movie has is that when compared to its source material, the film just can't live up to its full potential. The huge war that was present in the crossover is not present here. Instead, because it's an Aquaman origin story, we get a large amount of the movie dedicated to establishing who Aquaman is with only a few scenes sprinkled with the Justice League. There's hardly any action at all in this movie, just establishing story elements that could be used later on. It's not bad, but it's not good either. The stakes don't feel as high because the scope and ambition of the movie exceeds its capacity.

In the comic, we see cities destroyed by Orm's actions and we see people die in horrible tidal waves that heavily damage the planet. In the movie, Orm only decides to attack Metropolis, but he never drops a single tidal wave on the city. He just sends his army to attack, and the war boils down to the Justice League punching Orm a lot until he falls down. Oh, and Aquaman kind of becomes king somehow because he gave a speech to the Atlanteans. What should have been grand and epic instead just turns into a lame and tepid version of an amazing crossover.

Despite that flaw though, and it is a major flaw mind you, I still think that this movie had some great moments to it. Aquaman himself was a great character and very relatable. He was a guy down on his luck and thrust into this hero role, and he had a very normal and sensible reaction to it. Plus seeing the political machinations of Atlantis was interesting as well as entertaining. Pretty much any scene that took place in or revolved around Atlantis was good.

Any scene involving the Justice League though was incompetently done though. I have the exact same problems I have with the Justice League as I had during Justice League: War. Superman is bland and violent, Wonder Woman isn't kind and is rather aggressive towards everyone and everything (and don't even get me started on their inane relationship), Shazam is pompous and still a terrible person, and Batman is bitter and outright rude towards everyone. This Batman is the epitome of everything that's wrong with Batman right now, and I'm genuinely afraid if this version of the character is used for the upcoming Batman V Superman movie. As for Green Lantern and Flash, they're fine, but Cyborg still has the best development out of all of the Justice League by far.

I never intended for this to be a quick review, but a lot of my criticisms still stand from Justice League: War. This series just isn't meant to be made into films unless they have a larger budget to work with. If this movie had a couple extra million to work with, then we could have gotten a huge and epic war movie that could stand in the pantheon of great DC movies. This story line is a good one after all. It redefined Aquaman as a character and made the Justice League comic series good! It's just that a straight to DVD movie like Throne of Atlantis can't live up to that high level of expectation.

The action is solid and the movie belongs to Aquaman, but can we finally just ditch this new Justice League and make more movies that don't relate to these bland and mean spirited characters. And less Batman movies while we're at it. You know what, screw it! Sometime this month, I'm going to make a Top 10 list of comic book story lines that DC should make into an animated movie!

But yeah, Throne of Atlantis is alright. Come for the Justice League, stay for the Aquaman. And Mera's bloody decapitations. Mera be a violent bitch.


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