Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: "Justice League: Gods and Monsters" Recalls "Justice League" Roots

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 43 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015) – Video
Running time:  76 minutes (1 hour, 16 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence throughout and suggestive content including nudity
WRITERS:  Alan Burnett; from a story by Bruce W. Timm and Alan Burnett
PRODUCER: Alan Burnett
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinsk
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann


Starring:  (voices) Benjamin Bratt, Michael C. Hall, Tamara Taylor, Paget Brewster, C. Thomas Howell, Jason Isaacs, Dee Bradley Baker, Grey Griffin, Penny Johnson Jerald, Tahmoh Penikett, Bruce Thomas, Carl Lumbly, Taylor Parks, Richard Chamberlain, Yuri Lowenthal, and Andrea Romano

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a 2015 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation.  It is the 23rd film in Warner's line of DC Universe original animated movies.  The film focuses on an alternate version of DC Comics' ultimate superhero team, the Justice League.  This film also marks the return of fan-favorite writer-producer, Bruce Timm, to DC Universe films.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is set in an alternate universe and features a different version of DC Comics's “Trinity” – Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.  This different version of Superman is Hernan Guerra (Benjamin Bratt), not Clark Kent.  Superman's origin is still the planet, Krypton, but his biological father is General Zod (Bruce Thomas), not Jor-El.  On Earth, baby Kal-El is found and raised by a family of honorable and hardworking Mexican migrant farmers (instead of the Kansas farming couple, Ma and Pa Kent).  The troubles Hernan experienced living as an undocumented immigrant in the United States with his parents has made Superman short-tempered and withdrawn from humanity.

This alternate version of Wonder Woman is not Diana Prince from Paradise Island.  She is Bekka (Tamara Taylor), a New God, living in exile from Apokolips on EarthBatman is not Bruce Wayne.  He is Dr. Kirk Langstrom (Michael C. Hall), a scientist transformed by experimentation into a vampire-like man who feeds on criminals to satisfy his thirst for blood, which eats away at his humanity.  In Gods and Monsters, this Justice League operate outside the law, which makes it easy for them to be framed for the murders of several prominent scientists.

As Justice League: Gods and Monsters, the Justice League acts as the brutal force that maintains order on Earth.  The League has very little accountability and maintains a wary alliance with the United States government and with President Amanda Waller (Penny Johnson Jerald).  However, the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three prominent scientists seem to point to Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman as the murderers.  Now, authorities plan to use, “Project Fair Play,” the pet project of these murdered scientists, to hold the Justice League accountable for murders that they did not commit.  So who did?

Viewers that are familiar with the characters, comic books, and mythologies of DC Comics will find Justice League: Gods and Monsters a delight.  The better your grasp on what has been changed and how it has been changed, the more entertaining this film will be.  Still, the themes of justice and unity preside over the story.  The heroes, dark as they are, still undergo a journey to their better selves, striving to embrace their better natures.  Different though they may be, they are still superheroes.  They are still the Justice League.

In terms of the animation, character design, and art direction, Justice League: Gods and Monsters looks like the dearly DC Universe animated films.  In terms of action and drama, Gods and Monsters is also similar to the “Justice League” (2001-2004) animated television series and other animated series for which this film's writers, Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, are known.  That's a good thing; that's a very good thing.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a welcomed return of a classic Justice League cool.  I hope that Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett reunite for more.

8 of 10

Friday, November 6, 2015

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