Thoughts on Justice League: New Frontier
This isn’t going to be my standard review, in part because I’m planning on re-thinking how I do movie reviews on the site. This, instead is going to be my general overall review of the film. I’ll be working off the Blu-Ray version of the movie here for all of my criticisms, and there may be spoilers here, so be warned.
Justice League: The New Frontier, as far as comic book movies go, is not written for the general public. Now this works because it’s direct to video, but it’s really not meant for the general public. The general public knows who who most of the traditional Justice League members are (if only from the Superfriends cartoon and the Justice League cartoon) but that’s pretty much it. While films like The Dark Knight and Batman Begins have helped to put a darker image of superheroes into the public consciousness, most people see supers in the light-and-fluffy perspective of the way most people know the Silver Age of comics – the Batman TV series featuring Adam West and Burt Ward – where villains had dastardly plots which, while they may have had high stakes, when all is said and done, nobody got hurt too much (or particularly dead) at the end of the adventure. And particularly for adaptations of DC materials – there was no social commentary to speak of – that’s what Marvel is for.
New Frontier turns that on its ear. It’s grim, dark, glum, and has a lot of commentary on the 1950s, and surprisingly violent. The film is set in the transitional period between the end of the golden age of comics of the 1940s and early ’50s, the era of the Justice Society of America, and the late ’50s, early ’60s, before the formation of the Justice League we all know and love. Spanning several years, the film takes us through McCarthyism, and how this effects super heroes, while at the same time setting up a cosmic menace that threatens all of earth and will force the heroes of the Earth to unite the way they haven’t since World War II.
The film has to truncate the original New Frontier series to fit it in about 80-90 minutes of film, but what it does works well and is moderately accessible. However, people expecting a lot of superheroics are going to be extremely disappointed. We get a sum total of 1 named supervillain, out of (suprisingly) The Flash’s Rogues Gallery, in the entire piece. The rest of it is a lot of excellently done character-driven moments. Martian Manhunter, in the disguise of John Jones trying to blend into human society. Wonder Woman and Superman trying to reconcile their responsiblities as heroes and their Loyalties as Americans with the near rejection that the public has of heroes thanks to Sen. McCarthy (who, himself does not appear – though his presence is felt through the whole film from the JSA choosing to retire rather then unmask before the Commitee in the opening credits).
Plus, the film has a suprising amount of blood and death for a superhero anything. I can’t get too in-depth without major spoilers, but the amount of blood here suprised me. It’s not Akira level (it’s only slightly more than Cowboy Bebop), but it’s noticable. All in all, this film’s tone is bleak, which builds up to the final showdown with the ultimate enemy of the piece, the entity The Centre – which really is a lot grimmer then I expected – yes, there are some characters who we know are going to make it, but with the theme of the transition from Golden Age to Silver Age, some of the older heroes who do appear I really wasn’t sure about.
The acting is good, with good performances by, basically, everybody. The primary beef I have with the film is that it’s too short – though with animated films, the longer it is the more it costs, so I kind of have to forgive that. Anyway, it’s good, and worth picking up – by which I mean buying. It’s better than just a rental.
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010AEPHS?ie=UTF8&tag=themillenn0b3-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0010AEPHS”>Amazon.com Link for Justice League: The New Frontier</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=themillenn0b3-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0010AEPHS” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />