Thursday, June 10, 2010

DC Comic Animated Movie Impressions

A look at Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Three movies, one universe. DC Comics, much like Marvel, has been putting out animated features that pull from a variety of their comic properties. DC has a rich history to pull from with excellent animated series for Batman, Superman and Justice League, series which introduced an entirely new generation to characters and settings higher priced comics may have missed. These animated series have set a high bar on voice acting and how characters are seen so how do these three new features measure up? Lets take a look.

Wonder Woman
– Princess Diana, born and raised on the secluded island of Themyscira, longs to see the world outside her tiny island. The crash landing of pilot Steve Trevor and escape of imprisoned God of War Ares gives Diana the chance she’s longed for. Assigned as an escort for Steve her mission is changed when she must hunt down the escaped Ares and prevent his planned rise to power.

This is an origin story, one updated a bit but delivered quite well. An opening explains the history of the Amazons and quickly jumps into present day with a grown Diana. Enter Steve Trevor and some chance events and it’s Diana vs. Ares. The story moves along quite well and the voice acting is great. The strongest part of this movie is it’s rock solid animation that feels similar to Justice League: Unlimited but is unique in it’s own way, almost anime-ish. This feels like an extension of what DC animated is known for going back to the TV roots and who knows, maybe it’s a pilot for a longer running series.

Bottom line,
great story, animation and voice acting make this a must for all DC and Wonder Woman fans.

Green Lantern: First Flight
– A crashed alien ship, a mysterious ring and a new life begins for test pilot Hal Jordan. Chosen by the ring, Hal is summoned to Oa to stand before the Guardians and be judged worthy of being a Green Lantern. Senior Green Lantern Sinestro takes Hal under his wing as they investigate the location of the missing yellow ore, the only power that can challenge the incredible power of the Green Lantern Corp. As they continue to investigate Hal is quickly faced with revelation that not all Lanterns are good. When the fate of the universe is on the line can one human make a difference?

The second origin story of the three that thrust Hal, the white Lantern folks, into his new role really, really fast. Strange thing is he takes it all in stride, flying, aliens, space travel … quite amazing. The rest of the story feels like an extended Justice League episode. The animation is unique, maintains the plain look and feel DC is known for (sharp, solid colors and minimal shading). The action is fast paced and there is quite a bit of humor mixed in like a giant fly swatter, funny stuff. The voice acting is classic DC minus the too cocky Hal. He just comes off as a bit full of himself, something just strikes him as off.

Bottom Line,
First Flight is a decent origin story with decent animation and good voice acting. Sadly Green Lantern’s adventure, fight against Sinestro is not as cool as those first encounters of Wonder Woman, Bats or Supes. Fans of Lantern should most definitely give this one a spin but for most DC fans take a rental first.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
– A parallel universe Lex Luthor travels universes seeking the help of the Justice League to combat the evil Crime Syndicate on his planet. This syndicate made up of Ultraman, Owlman and Superwoman among others utilizes mafia like tactics to control the world from behind the governments. As Owlman puts his own agenda into motion not only are two Earths at risk but all of reality.

This story was done before, and better, in the original Justice League episodes. The story feels forced and very Watchmen like especially once Owlman puts his plan into motion. Nothing about this DVD feels good. The voice acting is not bad but it’s a slap in the face to fans of DC animation as there is no personality in these voice actors, they are not Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. The animation is way different than the established DC Universe look and feel and it’s just ugly. The character designs suffer at times, it just does not feel right. The other universe counterparts are stereotypical from Ultraman’s Italian mafia look to Black Lighting wearing a ‘bad ass’ vest showing off his chest. Why not just slap a goatee on every character so we know they are evil?

Bottom Line
, is this movie is sub-par on so many levels. The design and animation are poor, voice acting, while not bad is like wrong sounding muppets to quote Stewie. A re-cut and piecing together of the original Justice League episodes would have been better. Sad considering the other quality DC has put out recently.

Wonder Woman is top notch, Green Lantern a step below and Justice League … well that is just sad. A great time to be a DC Comics fan with so many series being put out but tread carefully as not every offering is of the best quality.