Pickup your copy of ‘Justice League: Throne of Atlantis’ at Amazon.co.uk now!
- Directed by Ethan Spaulding
- Screenplay by Heath Corson
- Story by Geoff Johns, Paul Pelletier & Ivan Reis
- Starring Sean Astin, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion and Jason O’Mara.
- Released 13th January 2015.
The latest in DC’s ever growing line of direct-to-video movies dips back in to the world of the Justice League to adapt the wildly popular ‘Throne of Atlantis’ arc form The New 52 ‘Justice League’ comics. Following on directly from the events of the epilogue scene in previous film ‘Justice League: War’ the film takes an adaptive look at the cross-title story by DC guru Geoff Johns and co-writers Paul Pelletier and Ivan Reis.
‘War’ was received to far more mixed reviews that other films in the DTV line. It’s biggest critics sighting the abundance of action over character development as a flaw in its design. Sadly that continues here with the majority of the league reduced to mere cameos in the giant set piece that is ‘Throne of Atlantis’.
The focus of ‘Atlantis’ is obviously Aquaman who sits front and centre in all the promo artwork and trailers for the film. Having been removed from previous ‘Justice League’ entries there’s a great deal of time given to his origin story in the first act of the film. It makes for an interesting story but begs the question of why this couldn’t be a solo Aquaman film and why the adaptation of ‘Throne of Atlantis’ needed to be tacked on and tacked on is exactly how it feels.
There are some interesting moments intermingled with the Aquaman origin, I particularly enjoyed the idea that there is no Justice League. There’s the appearance of a Justice League but really Cyborg sits alone in a not so shining Hall of Justice awaiting for the action to start. Singularly these heroes are getting on with their lives post ‘War’ but as a team there’s still some huge dysfunctions between which need to be fixed.
After dealing with the origin of Aquaman there’s little else for the film to do but follow ‘War’ in to a medley of action sequences which take up the remaining run time.
Having read the comics there was a scale to them which set the story apart from the Darkseid issues which inspired ‘War’ in that there were great tidal waves and threats of war with the Atlanteans which threatened the human race on all shores. ‘Justice League: Throne of Atlantis’ reduces the threat down to Metropolis through does still manage to bring the fight to the streets.
There’s equal parts of too much going on and also not enough. With so much to pack in the film constantly swings between moments like Clark and Diana sharing their first kiss and going on a date only to be interrupted by Lois Lane which all takes place in a matter of seconds to the sprawling sequence of Arthur first seeing Atlantis.
The film isn’t sure whether it wants to focus on the titular ‘Justice League’ or on the hero Aquaman. Undoubtedly due to the concern that sales would be lower for a solo Aquaman film.
The city of Atlantis looks great on film. The animation team have had a great deal to play with thanks to the subject matter and they haven’t held back in doing so. A great deal of the film is spent under water (I didn’t realise Wonder Woman could breathe underwater?!) but that doesn’t limit the film in any way.
The Metropolis landscape and indiscernible from that of Gotham which makes a short appearance near the beginning of the film. Future ‘Justice League’ films are going to need to put more in to designing individual landscapes for each of the heroes to inhabit or viewers are going to find themselves struggling to understand their settings.
What DC lacked in earlier DTV films was a consistent voice cast and design which served to tie all their films together. That’s now been rectified and although there are still improvements to be made there’s a level of continuity in these films which rivals that of Marvel’s big screen outings. Through it’s DTV line DC are proving they have the know how to create a solid universe but in doing so they have sacrificed story telling for star power.
The voice casting remains solid and that’s thanks to the ongoing genius of long time voice director Andrea Romano. Each of the characters has a recognisable voice and the characters are given their chance to shine through the voice acting. There’s less star power than a big budget ‘Avengers’ type film but that just means less egos to pack on the screen. Batman and Superman pale slightly here to Green Lanter, Flash and Wonder Woman but all are there regardless.
Earlier DTV films like ‘Flashpoint Paradox’ (reviewed here) and ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ showed that storytelling did not need to be sacrificed in order to make a visually striking film and if DC can get back to that then future entries to the line will reclaim that applause from fans.
‘Justice League: Throne of Atlantis’ isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. It’s okay viewing and a good introduction to new fans of Aquaman.