Saturday, May 03, 2008

The New Frontier: not quite up to par

(Apologies I don't have more appropriate images for tonite's subject. Doing the best with what I have).
Second up on reviews this weekend is Justice League: the New Frontier. Just to clarify: yes I have read the miniseries, and I thought it was a good attempt to integrate the DCU into a more realistic framework of the late-50s to early 60s. However, I'm probably not as in love with the comic as others have shown themselves to be. Yes, the art was beautiful: Darwyn Cooke can and does produce great stuff, no doubt. But I found the story to be a little disjointed and awkward, and this is something that is amplified in the DVD.
Simply put, there was no way to do this story justice in a 75 minute animated film, no matter how hard they tried. A lot of the better character moments (particularly those of the John Henry-stand-in character, Martian Manhunter, and especially Barry Allen) are sacrificed on the altar of the larger plot. Which I could almost forgive, if this movie didn't keep trying to point out that these tiny, underdeveloped and seemingly unconnected elements MATTERED in some meaningful way which you could only find out if you read the comic. So in that respect, the movie has a pretty fatal flaw in its characterization. The sole exception in this area is that of Hal Jordan, Green Lantern. His story arc from the original mini-series is carried over almost entirely completely, although there is still quite a bit of short-hand used to compact things down. So, if you are a Green Lantern fan, hey, you'll like this.
Now, if you are willing to get past the plot and character problems in this movie, I'll say this: The voice-casting is 100 times better than the "Doomsday" direct-to-DVD Superman Feature a few months back, and the animation is far cleaner and more vibrant. Cooke's contribution no doubt helped in this regard.
So, if you are a diehard DC completist, a fan of Darwyn Cooke, or Green Lantern, you should probably enjoy this. However, I don't think it's that accessible or that good for most viewers.

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