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'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis' Review

Written by Zechs on Wednesday, January 28 2015 and posted in Features

'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis' Review

Was the lack of an appearance in Justice League: War worth it for Aquaman to net himself this spotlighted sequel tale? Or should it be cast back into the sea?

Due to the events of Justice League: War (2012), the sea-faring kingdom of Atlantis is in chaos. In order to dispel the growing unrest among her people, Queen Atlanna sends Mera to seek out her long-lost son, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman. However, her other son Orm, and his partner Black Manta have other ideas to heighten the hatred against surface dwellers, and they decide to target this newly revealed being of royal blood. Enter the Justice League, fresh off their victory over Darkseid, having to end this family quarrel.

Given the lack of story driven ideas in the previous three, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a Frankensteined script of various elements taken from the actual event comic its based on, along with new material, and light portions cut from the New 52 Aquaman comic (all the material written by Geoff Johns3). Yet, taking and putting it all in one movie you get a really "meh" result. 

I'll start with the positive: mostly everything Aquaman-related works. The parts by himself aren't all that bad. Nor, any scenes he shares with Mera or even when they're attacked by the Trench. Also it helps when both characters are voiced by seasoned voice actors Matt Latner and Sumalee Montano). Not to mention a certain catch-phrase of the character that was forged on Batman: the Brave and the Bold does make an appearance here.

It's just when the Justice League themselves enter the picture that the movie treads water. Their inclusion in the movie just feels pointless. Yes, this is technically a Throne of Atlantis adaptation, but the only things it shares with that are the Justice League being involved and Orm becoming Oceanmaster.

Speaking of the latter, that leads me into the biggest problem I have with the movie: Oceanmaster. In the comic this is based on the character is a fully three dimensional character whose reasons for going to war against the surface dwellers is well thought out. Besides that, he was just a pawn in this game with another player being the true puppeteer. Here, Orm is a villain, and alongside his toady Black Manta. While the casting of Sam Witwer and Harry Lennix as the two characters is inspired, once again there isn't real much meat to their role; other than to be evil. Not only that, Manta's role just seems pointless highlighted at best during his exit from the movie (what is it with these movies horribly murdering Black Manta?). Given the lengths Johns went in the comics with both characters, it's kind of sad that the transition from comic to screen didn't carry over that fact as well.

Then there's the Justice League themselves: they're absolutely pointless in the final act. Well of course, they have to be, given this is Aquaman's spotlight. It's just the lengths of jobbing they did in the movie against Oceanmaster and his nifty magical trident reminded me of this past Sunday's Royal Rumble (Writer's Note: Jobbing is a wrestling term when one wrestler has to lose to another and make that other wrestler look real good). You're telling me, the Justice League who went up against one of the most powerful villains in all of DC, cannot even dent a guy who just started to wield a magical object which seems to be the deus ex machina of all the heroes?

Another problem I had was the voice acting in the movie. Okay, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013) kicked off this reign of movies. But, we're in our fifth movie in this "universe" and we've already had numerous recastings (Nathan Fillion reprises his role as Hal again, even though he had no involvement in the previous film, Superman is on his THIRD voice actor, Wonder Woman as well with Rosario Dawson) and really only two reprise their roles from the previous film, and only one in Jason O'Mara in his third venture as Batman (ugh.... His version of the Batman voice is wearing thin on me, and oh great he's reprising it again in the next movie Batman vs. Robin, the sequel to the movie I hated last year).

Further compounding on this fact is, sadly, when you have certain actors reprise roles like Fillion. It's kind of weird hearing others, who have voiced DC characters in the past, be in all new roles: i.e. Jerry O'Connell, who voiced Captain Marvel in Justice League, Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam as Superman, George Newburn who voiced Superman in Justice League/JLU, the Batman, and Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam as Steve Trevor (again one of the few actually reprising their roles from the previous film), Michael Rosebaum (the Flash in Justice League/JLU, Teen Titans, and Lex Luthor in Smallville), and Khary Payton (Aqualad in Young Justice, Cyborg in Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go!) as John Henry Irons. Usually in previous efforts it doesn't distract, but here it got downright so with the various cast of previous DC animated fare. I mean why have these actors in other roles when you think of the other roles they've voiced or even acted (in the case of Rosebaum)?

Yet, you're looking for a consistent animated movieverse than you're failing at something Marvel actually gets right on it's animated side of things (I feel REAL dirty now saying something positive of the Marvel Animation. WHY DID YOU MAKE ME DO IT WARNER BROS?! WHY?! ).

If there's one more positive I can say about this film it is about the animation. Previous Justice League efforts were kind of jarring (Flashpoint Aquaman and JL: War Superman having designs that would make Rob Liefeld blush). Here the animation and character designs flow well and are crisper.  One could only wish the writing was given the same effort.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a shredded portion of DC material put back hastily together with duct tape. It's messy, bloated, and has a rushed final act that doesn't feel at all satisfying. Its villains are equally a mess, made of thin, one-dimensional fiber. The film's redeeming qualities are when it focuses on just Aquaman and the world around him. Other than that, this is just another sad waste of what could have been, and wastes a good animated effort put in. It's kind of sad that the movie in earnest highlights the problems of this new animated movie universe established since 2013. That Warner Bros mandates DC characters who are not Batman or Superman cannot have a solo animated film anymore. Not only that, but gritty action once again takes center stage as quantity and quality take a very quiet backseat, when, given the story it was based on, it should have been the reverse. The one thing that scares this reviewer is where they take this New 52 Justice League movie direction next. They obviously cannot adapt "Trinity War" or "Forever Evil" which were the next big storylines in Justice League comics, and if they do it'll be a lot like this: a bloated mess only worth a single watch or rental.


1 out of 5


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About the Author - Zechs

Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Moment of the Week, and Durnkin Reveewz. He's also the official whuppin boy at the Outhouse. So he'll get stuck seeing stuff that no mere mortal should ever see. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. He's also brutally honest. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.


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