Justice League: Doom

"Justice League: Doom" finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains – orchestrated by Vandal Savage - discover and implement the Dark Knight's "contingency plans" for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waid’s much-heralded "JLA: Tower of Babel," and scripted by the late Dwayne McDuffie.

Review

"Justice League: Doom" is the latest film in the DC Universe Animated series and is based of the Mark Waid scribed "JLA: Tower of Babel" comic book storyline from 2000 and involves the immortal villain, Vandal Savage stealing and implementing Batman's contingency plans on the JLA should any league member ever become corrupt or go rogue.

With a great balance of action, drama and just the right amount of humor, the film is an almost perfect adaptation of the "Tower of Babel" story and does a wonderful job of presenting the secrecy and insecurities lying beneath Batman's well protected exterior which lead to the events that ultimately form a wedge between the Dark Knight and his fellow comrades.

The film kicks off with the Justice League battling the Royal Flush Gang who are being used as guinea pigs by Savage so that the criminal Mirror Master has time to hide out in the batmobile so he can gain entry to the batcave and aquire the file data Savage needs to defeat the Justice League and allow him to rise to power once again just as he once did thousands of years in the past.

As opposed to taking out the members of the JLA personally, Savage assembles a group of each member's respective enemies at an updated version of the Hall of Doom from the classic Hanna-Barbara "Superfriends" cartoons. This new Legion of Doom comprises Bane, Star Sapphire, Metallo, Cheetah, Mirror Master, and Ma'alefa'ak. Savage informs them that he can give them the means to defeat the JLA and, should they succeed, he will allow them to join in on his greater plan for world domination.

The Legion of Doom sets off on their tasks and begins to systemically take out the members of the Justice League. The movie really connects very closely to the "Tower of Babel" storyline at this point with some of the somes scenes being taken directly from the comic such as Bane taking out Batman by burying him alive with the corpses of his parents or Ma'alefa'ak subduing Martian Manhunter by setting him ablaze with no way to extinguish the flames.

The battle between Wonder Woman and Cheetah is treated slightly different from the comic but still manages to convey the same premise with Wonder Woman believing everyone in her path is Cheetah causing her to fight a never-ending battle which will eventually put such great pressure on her heart that, if she doesn't stop, will kill her.

Flash's encounter with Mirror Master on a high-speed money train causes him to have a bomb bolted to his wrist bone. Mirror Master explains that the bomb will explode if he does nothing or tries to vibrate out of it. The only way to prevent the bomb from detonating is to run at super speed non-stop.

The biggest change from the "Tower of Babel" storyline involves Green Lantern and Superman's battles which are treated very differently from the comic. Since the film's Green Lantern is Hal Jordan as opposed to Kyle Raynor, the change makes since since the two chracters have vastly different personalities.

After Hal arrives at a hostage scene within a mine, he falls under the influence of the Scarecrow's fear toxin and is tricked by Star Sapphire into believing he has caused the death of an innocent victim. Overwhelmed by guilt and the feeling that he has failed as a Green Lantern, he gives up the mantle and allows the power-ring to fall from his finger.

As for Superman, he arrives at the Daily Planet which is the scene of a recently laid off co-worker who is theatening to jump from the building roof. As Superman is going through the process of trying to talk the man down from jumping, Metallo reveals himself to be the jumper in disguise and immediatly shoots the Man of Steel in the chest with a Kryptonite bullet.

Cyborg, who has not been seen since the film's opening segment with the Royal Flush gang, arrives on the scene of Wonder Woman battling the police who she sees as countless Cheetahs. Through his cybernetic emplants, Cyborg is able to deduce that nanites have been implanted in Wonder Woman's brain and, after a short battle of his own, he is able to eradicate them with with a sonic blast.

Ultimately, Batman is able to free himself from his parent's tomb and is informed by Alfred of the demise of his fellow Justice League members.

Realizing that the batcave computer has been hacked and that his contengency plans have been put in place, Batman contacts the League members and instructs them on how to defeat the various traps and situations they are currently embroiled in.

After reassembling, the JLA tracks down the Legion of Doom and takes them out just as Vandal launches his plan which involves a rocket being launched at the sun resulting in a solar flair that will wipe out all of humanity on the side of the earth facing the sun. Using information gathered by Cyborg from technology implemented by the Royal Flush Gang earlier, the JLA manages to save the Earth at the last minute.

With the crisis overted and Savage indicted on charges of crimes against humanity, the JLA gathers at the Watchtower where Batman explains that it was his plans which were used to bring down the League. With this breach of trust now evident, the League decides to vote whether or not Batman should be allowed to remain as a member or not. However, before a vote can be taken, Batman makes it an easy decision and leaves on his own.

Before Batman can transport himself back down to earth, Superman confronts him and agrees with his contingency plans. He gives Batman the Kryptonite bullet that Metallo shot him with on the condition that, should the Man of Steel ever go rogue, he wants Batman to have a way to take him down.

The overall animation of "Justice League: Doom" is pretty is solid but does lack the punch and smooth style of previous DC Universe Animated films such as "All-Star Superman", "Batman: Under the Red Hood" and the recent "Batman: Year One." My only other complaint would be that some of the characters are not proportional such as Superman who's body and neck are not in relation to the size of his head.

While the script is well written, there is practically no time spent on establishing background information as it is assumed that the audience is familiar with the DC universe and understands such plot points as the prior relationship between Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris (Star Sapphire) or the history between Martian Manhunter and his twin brother, Ma'alefa'ak.

Easily the best aspect of "Justice League: Doom" is the voice casting. Practically the entire cast from the Justice League animated tv series is back as their respective characters with the only exceptions being Tim Daly as Superman (a role he portrayed on Superman: The Animated Series) and Nathan Filion as Green Lantern.

Michael Rosenbaum does a wonderful job tweaking his role of the Flash to play the Barry Allen Flash as opposed to the slightly different Wally West version he played on the tv series. Carl Lumbly is also back as the voice of Martian Manhunter as well as taking on the voice of Ma'alefa'ak which creates an interesting dynamic between the two characters.

Rounding out the "Justice League: Doom" cast is Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), Bumper Robinson (Cyborg), Carlos Alazraqui (Bane), Claudia Black (Cheetah), Paul Blackthorne (Metallo/Henry Ackerson), Olivia d'Abo (Star Sapphire), Alexis Denisof (Mirror Master), Phil Morris (Vandal Savage), Grey DeLisle (Lois Lane - Queen), Robin Atkin Downes (Alfred Pennyworth - Jack), David Kaufman (Jimmy Olsen), Juliet Landau (Ten), Jim Meskimen (King), Andrea Romano (Bat Computer) and Bruce W. Timm (Ace).

In the end "Justice League: Doom" is pretty solid, but not remarkable. It plays very well but could have been a bit longer to encompass more of the "Tower of Babel" storyline and increase the fight sequences which are easily the strongest points of the movie. Although the film does have a PG-13 rating due to vilolence and language, it is nothing more than what one would expect in an episode of Justice League animated tv series.

All-in-all, I'd rank this film as one of DC's best in the series so far and is one release you will defintely want to add to your movie collection..

Bonus Content

Warner Home Video have once again done an amazing with the bonus content included on the "Justice League: Doom" Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet combo pack which features an optional commentary track with Geoff Johns and Mike Carlin as well as "A League of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story", a tribute documentary dedicated to the late "Justice League: Doom" writer, Dwayne McDuffie who died unexpectedly in 2011 as a result of complications from heart surgery.

Also included are the documentaries "Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA", which examines the consequences of unchecked power and Batman's contingency plans for the members of the JLA, and "Cyborg: His Time Has Come" which is devoted to the newest member of the JLA team.

Another nice bonus is a downloadable digital copy of "Justice League of America #43" which kicked off the "Tower of Babel" story on which "Justice League: Doom" is based.

The continuing series of "Bruce Timm's Picks" is featured once again as well in the form of the two part Justice League Unlimited story, "Wild Cards," which featured the Joker and introduced viewers to the Royal Flush Gang.

Lastly, to help hype interest in the next DC Universe animated release, viewers are treated to a sneak peek at "Superman vs. The Elite" which is based on the Joe Kelly scripted "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?" story that appeared in Action Comics #775 as published by DC Comics in March 2001.

Three previews are also featured on this release and include the "Gotham City Imposters" videogame, "Batman: Year One" animated feature film, and "Green Lantern: The Animated Series" which debuts on Cartoon Network's "DC Nation" in March, 2012.

Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new Justice League: Doom arrives February 28, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD and for Download. Both the Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD will include an UltraViiolet™ Digital Copy, The film will be available via purchase On Demand beginning February 21, 2012.

Trailer