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Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) Movie Review
Justice League: The New Frontier is a decent telling of the origins of the Justice League. Set in the 1950s, this movie gives an account of how the Justice League formed while also telling the origin story of the Green Lantern. Overall, I enjoyed this movie. There are good action scenes throughout, each member of the League is given reasonable screen time and the animation style is something new and unique.
The movie possibly jumped around a little bit too much between the League members as the Justice League itself is not actually formed until the end of the movie. Furthermore, the comic it was based on, a series by Darwyn Cooke of the same name, is 416 pages in total whereas this movie is little over an hour long. Therefore, it feels too condensed. However, like "Superman: Doomsday", this is only likely to be an issue to those who have read the comics. On the whole, "Justice League: The New Frontier" is an exciting, interesting and unique offering from DC.
The story takes place in the 1950s not long after the conclusion of the Korean War. A mysterious creature, known as the Centre, begins by narrating how humanity has become a destructive force on Earth and expresses an intention to eliminate human life. We then cut to two fighter jets, one of which is piloted by Hal Jordan (David Boreanz - Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Unfortunately, Hal is shot down when they are attacked by North Korean MiGs and ends up shooting and killing an enemy soldier in self-defence.
We then witness J'onn J'onzz (The Martian Manhunter) being teleported to Earth as well as being introduced to Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash. As the story unfolds, the Martian Manhunter is placed into captivity by the US Armed Forces and Hal Jordan is recruited into a space program designed to find life on Mars.
However, the entity known as the "Centre" attacks Themyscira, the home of Wonder Woman, and eventually launches an attack against the USA. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan finds a dying Green Lantern and acquires the power ring. In response to the attack by the Centre, the members of the yet-to-be-formed Justice League must work together to destroy this evil that threatens to eradicate all life on Earth.
Exciting, Interesting, Violent and Unique
First of all, "Justice League: The New Frontier" is an exciting and entertaining animated movie. For the first half to three quarters of the movie it is very good indeed. The action is excellent and the darker tone will appeal to the more mature comic book readers. It is let down a little in the final battle against the Centre but until that point I have very few criticisms.
The story itself is excellent. We are introduced to many of the major Justice League characters including Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern through a collection of various story arcs that eventually coalesce in the final sequence. Though this can feel a little disjointed at times (see below), each story is interesting, well-written and entertaining. The voice acting is average to good. David Boreanz plays a convincing Hal Jordan though I felt that the voices of Superman and Batman were slightly weaker. The animation is new and unique, invoking a much more retro comic book feel than other animated comic adaptations. Though it takes a little getting used to, it is effective and fits with the style and tone of the movie perfectly.
Slightly Too Short and Only Suitable for a Mature Audience
Like its predecessor, "Superman: Doomsday," "Justice League: The New Frontier" takes a long comic book story and condenses it into a movie that, in my opinion, is far too short. The original comic book series runs for over 400 pages in total and yet this movie is just over an hour. To those who have read the comic books, this movie is therefore likely to feel very rushed. In my opinion, it should have been at least half an hour longer than it is. Another very minor criticism is that the movie jumps around a lot between the different characters. Each character has his or her own story and they converge at the end but before the final sequence, the movie does tend to feel jump and incoherent in parts.
Finally, this movie is not made for children. Not only will a lot of the references and one-liners only make sense to a more adult audience but the dark tone and violence in the movie are only really suitable for a more mature viewer. For example, a scene towards the beginning of the movie has Wonder Woman explaining how rebels attacked a village, slaughtered the men and children and locked the women in cages for them to 'use'. She then freed the women and set them on the rebels in an act of savage brutality. There is no lack of blood in the fight sequences either with frequent sprays of crimson shown on screen. Whilst I personally like the darker tone (I believe it fits nicely into the new DC universe and sets it nicely apart from the previous animated shows for children) and don't mind the graphic violence (in some ways I think it adds to the movie), it does stop an entire generation from viewing the movie.
Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) Trailer
Overall, "Justice League: The New Frontier" is a very good animated movie from DC and deserves a 4-star rating. The overarching story is gripping and the individual plot lines of the various characters are interesting and well-written. Furthermore, the dark and more mature tone the movie adopts fits nicely into the DC universe and means that it appeals to teenagers and adults.
This more mature way of telling the story however, ultimately means that the movie is not recommended for children. The movie also tends to feel a little disjointed and, for those who have read the comic books, rushed. Overall though, "Justice League: The New Frontier" is yet another high-quality animated offering from DC and well recommended for comic books fans.