I usually don’t review these, mostly because I’ve got so much else to look at, but I thought I’d take a look at the brand new DC Animated adventure, Throne of Atlantis.
DC has made a long series of animated featurettes over the past decade or so. Some are utterly amazing, some are merely good, I don’t think there’s been a truly bad one in the bunch and I think I’ve seen them all. Whereas Marvel has the theatrical scene sewn up, DC controls the animated television market going back decades. So let’s dive into this latest adventure and see how Throne of Atlantis stacks up. I’ve also got a bonus short at the end so keep reading.
Clearly, we’re in the New 52 universe, which I still hate, but hey, what can you do. The Justice League is just getting started, all of the members just do what they do and pay little mind to the call of the League. We pick up right after the end of Justice League: War when an American submarine is attacked and sunk by a mysterious force. Steve Trevor calls in Cyborg to check it out, the government wants their missiles back, but they’re all gone. Cyborg is attacked by that same force and barely escapes, but he calls for the Justice League and eventually, they all show up. Arthur Curry just lost his family and feels alone in the world, but finds that his mother, whom he thought had abandoned the family, is really the queen of Atlantis. However, before he can return to his ancestral home, his half-brother Orm, helped by Black Manta, kills his mother and usurps the throne, sending the armies of Atlantis marching on Metropolis in a move to guarantee the safety and security of Atlantis from the surface world.
Now one thing that’s very clear and actually pretty welcome, the Justice League has no problem killing the enemy when need be. Wonder Woman slaughters Atlantean soldiers left and right, Superman takes out plenty with his heat vision, etc. I don’t think I saw Batman or Flash kill anyone, but they could have. That’s really a welcome change from the “superheroes never kill” nonsense. Sometimes it’s required.
This isn’t the cheesy 70s Aquaman, nor is it the horribly dark hook-handed Aquaman, it’s a nice middle ground character that I think gave us a grounding we’ve needed in many DC animated features. In fact, most characters were pretty mellow, considering recent appearances, which was a welcome change of pace.
The animation, while somewhat different from previous efforts and honestly, barring a couple of really bad sequences where the animation jumped, it was fine. It’s a different style but not a bad style and I’m still enjoying the various styles they’re using since giving up on the one-style Bruce Timm/Paul Dini style they used for years on end. The voice acting is generally good. Nathan Fillion plays Green Lantern and is excellent. Jason O’Mara plays Batman and sorry, he’s just not Batman. Jerry O’Connell returns to voice Superman again and I’ve been a fan of O’Connell since his Sliders days.
Overall, it’s very good, certainly not the best thing DC has put out, but far from the worst. They do try to stuff far too many storylines into the 70 minute runtime however, they have three romantic sub-plots between Superman and Wonder Woman, Cyborg and his nurse and Aquaman and Mera. Add in all the other plots and it all feels very rushed. It could have been a 90 minute movie and given the storylines a little room to breathe, perhaps future movies will pace themselves a bit better.
There’s absolutely no reason not to get out and watch this thing right away, unlike some of the earlier efforts, I enjoyed myself from beginning to end.
Immediately after finishing Throne of Atlantis, I tried the latest DC Lego offering, Justice League vs. Bizarro League and honestly, it didn’t fare nearly as well. See, Lego shorts have always been funny, the action slapstick, they are over the top for the sake of being over the top. This one wasn’t. Sure, there were a couple of funny moments, but for the most part, it was played straight and, if not for the animation style, could have been a serious movie like Throne of Atlantis.
The story follows Bizarro after Superman drops him on a planet of his very own where the rocks produce strange local effects that alter machinery and powers. A year later, Bizarro returns to earth with his Bizarro League and they just want to help protect the planet, but we all know, Bizarro’s idea of help usually isn’t all that helpful. The Leagues go back to Bizarro World where they find Darkseid and Desaad stealing all of the strange rocks for use in a weapon against Earth. Can the two sides join forces and defeat Darkseid?
Well of course they can! The problem is, it’s just not that funny. Maybe they realized that following the success of The Lego Movie, they didn’t have to be slapstick all the time, but that’s really what makes these things enjoyable. Nobody goes into these things expecting a remotely serious story.
It was cute, it was short, clocking in at just 48 minutes, but it just didn’t have the same comedic charm as the old Lego Star Wars or Lego Indiana Jones flicks. Those had you rolling in the aisles. This had you chuckle once in a while. There’s a difference.