×

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Justice League: Throne of Atlantis’

With:
Voice cast: Matt Lanter, Sam Witwer, Jason O’Mara, Christopher Gorham, Nathan Fillion, Shemar Moore, Rosario Dawson, Jerry O’Connell, Sean Astin, Sumalee Montano, Sirena Irwin, Harry Lennix

With so much time to kill waiting for the Batman-Superman movie, Warner Bros. continues to feed the DC Comics base red meat with its direct-to-Blu-Ray animated movies, creating a satisfying superhero experience on the relative cheap. Enter “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” an adaptation of the graphic novel that brings together the team to defend the surface from an Atlantean invasion, while simultaneously providing an Aquaman origin story. Frankly, that’s a lot of ground to cover in a mere 72 minutes, but there’s time for plenty of action and pointed banter to, ahem, tide fans over.

Aquaman can easily be reduced to silliness — an underwater Dr. Dolittle — but he’s introduced as drifter Arthur Curry (voiced by Matt Lanter), who can wipe out an assortment of bar ruffians but doesn’t know about his true lineage as the half-human, half-Atlantean heir to an undersea kingdom.

Meanwhile, his half-brother Orm (Sam Witwer) is plotting an attack on the “surface-dwellers,” which forces the Justice League to assemble, even if they haven’t quite perfected their fledgling alliance yet. (In one of the more amusing lines, the group’s government liaison says they went with the name Justice League because it “tested better.”)

The PG-rated movies offer a chance to showcase a more adult side of these familiar characters — happily, “Super Friends” it’s not — from salty language to a budding relationship between Superman (Jerry O’Connell) and Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson). As written by Heath Corson and directed by Ethan Spaulding, there’s also disarming humor in the interplay, such as when a roughed-up Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) groans to the plotting Batman (Jason O’Mara), “Bro, do not turn this into a learning moment.”

Mostly, though, the formula of these titles is to incorporate just enough plot to set up bountiful fight sequences, with the heroes mowing down armies of intruders before it’s over. As for the question of finding a villain worthy of all that firepower, fortunately Orm’s magic trident can give even Superman a run for his money.

Warner Bros. Animation’s prolific output of these projects has somewhat and perhaps inevitably diluted the quality (next up: “Batman vs. Robin” in April), with highlights like “Batman: Year One” and the two-part “Dark Knight Returns” offset by more middling properties.

Still, animation remains an ideal vehicle for bringing these stories to the screen in uncompromising fashion, and these home releases remain an area where DC consistently outclasses Marvel, from the top-flight voice casting to the ambition and volume of the titles.

So while DC and Warner Bros. might be playing a bit of catch-up in terms of live-action blockbusters, entries like “Throne of Atlantis” reinforce a sense that in the game of animation, anyway, they’re leading the wave, not behind it.

Popular on Variety

Blu-Ray Review: 'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis'

(Animated movie; release date: Jan. 27)

Production: Produced by DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation

Crew: Executive producer, Sam Register; supervising producer, James Tucker; co-producer, Alan Burnett; director, Ethan Spaulding; writer, Heath Corson; based on the graphic novel by Geoff Johns, Paul Pelletier, Ivan Reis; voice director, Andrea Romano; editor, Christopher D. Lozinski; editor, Frederik Wiedmann. 72 MIN.

With: Voice cast: Matt Lanter, Sam Witwer, Jason O’Mara, Christopher Gorham, Nathan Fillion, Shemar Moore, Rosario Dawson, Jerry O’Connell, Sean Astin, Sumalee Montano, Sirena Irwin, Harry Lennix

More Film

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    'The Report' Trailer: Adam Driver Investigates Post-9/11 Interrogation Tactics

    Adam Driver is in pursuit of the truth in Amazon Studio’s first look at “The Report,” a tense political drama about the CIA’s use of torture. The film focuses on Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Driver), who begins to investigate the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, a group created in the aftermath of 9/11. As he [...]

  • Fox Searchlight Buys 'The Personal History

    Fox Searchlight Buys 'The Personal History of David Copperfield'

    Fox Searchlight has acquired North American rights to “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” Armando Iannucci’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name. The deal comes in advance of the film’s Toronto International Film Festival bow on Sept. 5, as well as its BFI London Film Festival premiere on Oct. 2. The studio [...]

  • on day 3 of the London

    Barbara Broccoli, Richard Curtis, Passion Pictures Team on Paralympics Documentary

    Oscar-winning British production company Passion Pictures is teaming up with James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and filmmaker Richard Curtis on a new feature documentary about the Paralympic Games. The project, currently titled “Harder Than You Think,” brings together Passion’s John Battsek with producer Greg Nugent of HTYT Films, with Broccoli and Curtis both serving as [...]

  • Tribeca Film Insitute's PitchNY Program Now

    Tribeca Film Institute's PitchNY Program Kicks Off (EXCLUSIVE)

    College students and recent alumni in New York can apply to the 4th annual PitchNY program, an effort to help young, diverse directors, producers and writers fine-tune their pitching skills, as well as to connect them with entertainment industry professionals who will serve as mentors. On Thursday, Tribeca Film Institute, The New York State Governor’s [...]

  • La-camarista

    ‘The Chambermaid’ Cleans Up in the U.S.

    SANTIAGO, Chile — Call it the “Roma” effect but Mexican newcomer Lila Aviles’ engaging portrait of a hotel servant, “The Chambermaid” (“La Camarista”) has found outstanding reception in the U.S. and in multiple territories, giving hope to other arthouse films from Latin America and elsewhere that seek distribution in “fortress America.” “‘Roma’ was a beautiful, brawny and [...]

  • Beograd 20.03.2012 Milutin Petrovic, reditelj, scenarista,

    Lost Script by ABC Studios Editor Turned Into Movie and Series 'Bad Blood'

    An ambitious new Serbian feature film and 10-part television series set in the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century has emerged from a long lost script by a former editor at ABC Studios in New York City. Belgrade-based This and That Productions is producing “Bad Blood,” based on the works of renowned Serbian writer Borisav [...]

  • Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power,

    Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power, Responsibility of Cinema to ‘Provoke’

    Gael García Bernal said acting for the likes of Oscar winners Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón helped groom him for the director’s chair and praised cinema as “the only medium” that allows artists to “explore the gray areas” in unparalleled ways. “The world is so full of certainties now, and cinema is the one that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content