The other day/week I was tooling around on Netflix or Amazon Prime or one of those services and decided to sample some animated hero action. I’ve seen some critics take their animated reviews pretty seriously and make it look good. So I thought I’d watch a few cartoons and give you my take on them.
Of the animated features I watched, I did some sampling of a Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Justice League titles. I know some of you aren’t animated fans, but there are those that might be
Oddly enough, GL and WW seem to translate well into animated features but have yet to grab a foothold in the live-action realm, while the Justice League is finally getting off the ground under the Warner Bros roof with the upcoming Batman V Superman movie in March of 2016.
But with no Christopher Nolan in any part of the production, I’m cautiously optimistic.
With that said, let’s check out what I had to say about these animated films. (Images below are links to the products on Amazon.)
Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) Review
Green Lantern: First Flight is the story of when the ring found Hal Jordan. It’s quite different from that winner 2011 movie with Ryan Reynolds.
In this version, Abin Sur crash lands in a desert and asks the ring to find his replacement. The ring goes off and kidnaps Hal, taking him to the desert, where it bestows itself on him, and Abin Sur and his ship explode, removing all evidence that he was there.
Then, four Green Lanters find Hal and drag him to OA. The Guardians quibble about him and all the weaknesses that humans have. Yet Sinestro steps up and says he’ll train him.
We also learn at the same time that Sinestro isn’t perfectly happy with things as they are on OA. “The Guardians are not on the front lines,” as he put it.
Hal Jordan is as snarky as the film version and Sinestro isn’t too far off the same mark at times. Actually, Sinestro is on the verge of evil already. We also never truly get to any of Hal’s training. He just seems to have the knack, right off the bat.
And unlike other versions of GL, the Guardians pick the successor of each ring, not the ring itself.
The story is about chasing down the guy who killed Abin Sur… and the subterfuge of Sinestro.
First Flight grabs your attention in the second act and won’t let go! It builds on the pace with some great story developments and surprises.
Additionally the voice cast is pretty impressive to boot…
- Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
- Victor Garber as Sinestro
- Tricia Helfer as Boodikka
- Michael Madsen as Kilowog and
- John Larroquette as Tomar-Re.
- Bruce Timm produced, Lauren Montgomery directed.
Wonder Woman (2009) Animated Review
This is the classic tale of the Amazonian princess, Diana, AKA, Wonder Woman. There’s nothibg new to see here.
We learn of how the Amazon nation of women came to be, then watch as Steve Trevor crash lands on their island, and through subterfuge, Ares, whose been imprisoned for a very long time, is released.
Ares mission is to become as powerful as a god, through deeds or acts of war.
Diana follows Ares from her hidden island nation to Washington DC, where the war is being waged.
But before all that, Trevor introduces Diana to the life on the mainland, that rumored land that the Amazonian island has hidden from.
This introduction to our world doesn’t go well… Trevor is a sexist pig of a man of sorts, then they’re attacked by men in an alley. All of this does nothing by fuel her distrust of men. That same distrust that’s been burned into her personality all these years on her island.
But one thing leads to another, the battle rages between the good and evil, and various other issues develop.
To be honest there are no real surprises in this telling of the origin of Wonder Woman. And it’s not quite as exciting as some other DC heroes. I don’t feel connected or swayed by this race of god-fueled women. Diana is one of many.
And her powers, to me, are questionable. Is she invulnerable? Or does she have access to limitless power?
In other versions of the character in different animated features, she flies like Superman and is on par with him. In this version, that seems faithful to the classic origins, you don’t get that feeling. You get the sense of a woman driven to do good, to never give up, and to fly around in her invisible jet. (Where would Amazonian women get that kind of technology, to build a cloaked Lear Jet???)
The feature is directed by Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm is one of the producers, and Gail Simone wrote this origin re-write.
The voice cast is populated with well known personalities, like
- Keri Russell playing Wonder Woman,
- Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, and
- Alfred Molina as Ares.
Other cast includes Rosario Dawson, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, Virginia Madsen and others.
– – –
Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths (2010) Animated Review
Crisis starts out with what looks like Lex Luthor and the Joker working together to steal something, and an alternate form of the Justice League is pursuing them.
What? Luthor, Joker? Well, it’s actually the Jester.
The bad guys beat Luthor, but he teleports to our Earth and asks the Justice League for help. They decide to, and as they teleport back to good Lex’s world, they encounter this “Crime Synidcate,” which are basically evil versions of the Justice League.
Well, except for the “Made Men,” henchmen that are given powers by the syndicate members. They’re formidable. Even for the Justice League.
The first act is pretty much almost all action introducing us to the different characters and their powers. It’s a fun slug fest, that’s for sure.
As the story pans out we learn that the Owl Man has some pretty nasty plans of his own.
And so it goes, back and forth, each side besting the other in different spats.
If you’re a comic book fan and a Justice League fan, I think you will love this animated feature. It’s mostly action, with connector story points to keep this from getting too boring from an all out action fest.
Like most other animated features, the voice cast is littered with known talent.
- William Baldwin (Batman),
- Mark Harmon (Superman),
- Chris Noth (Lex Luthor),
- Gina Torres (Superwoman),
- James Woods (Owlman),
- Jonathan Adams (J’onn J’onzz),
- Brian Bloom (Ultraman) &
- Bruce Davison (President Wilson).