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Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts 2015

While I had initially only planned to do animation through April, May is almost over and I’m still sticking to the animated fare. And while I’ve just gone though catching up on a few Marvel animated films I hadn’t gotten around to yet, DC is still cranking them out on a regular basis. I hadn’t heard much lead up to this title so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect at all. I’m not familiar with any sort of Batman Unlimited universe whether in the comics or on TV. From what I can tell from this film it’s set in the future, kind of like Batman Beyond, but instead of it being a future generation, it’s just Batman and several of the less extraterrestrial Justice League set in the future. It also reminded me a little bit of last year’s JLA Adventures where this was a very kid friendly adventure as opposed to the increasingly darker PG-13 stories typical of recent DC Animated films. It’s also worth noting that this film is intended to help launch a new toy line of DC Unlimited characters which will also continue in shorts and future home video films which actually makes me think of the Monster High style of marketing. As an actual film it was a fun little adventure without too much real depth to it, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
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Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League 2015

Starting my unintentional batch of superhero movies intended for younger audiences with the latest home video Lego movie release. There’s been a small handful of these Lego home video releases, though many of them are extremely short. Even this one clocks in at just under an hour. If you’re familiar with the Lego brand of entertainment outside of just the Lego movie then you know that it is generally filled with a large number of rapid fire gags and jokes and Bizarro League is no different. It is a bit of a misnomer though, as the entire “vs” aspect of the movie is over within just a few minutes and instead the two groups spend most of their time working together to fight Darkseid. It’s by no means a great film that you should go seek out immediately, but if you have kids of your own, this is a great way to spend an hour together and I bet you will spend quite a bit of it laughing your minifig head off. There’s even a bit of a message buried under all the laughs.
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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis 2015

And right onto the first new release of the year. This seems like it’s one of the first follow ups in the DC Animation home video releases as it almost directly follows last year’s Justice League: War. Even though Son of Batman was also part of DC’s New 52 continuity, that movie felt much more self-contained where this really felt like a sequel, especially when I did revisit War shortly before watching Throne of Atlantis. While Aquaman is often the butt of many jokes, he is actually a popular and powerful member of the Justice League and long since deserving of his own movie. There are a few jokes tossed at the king of the sea’s expense, but for the most part it’s a typical origin story with a very similar tone and feel to War, with a few of the same voice cast returning along with some new and familiar voices like Rosario Dawson who got upgraded from Artemis in the Wonder Woman movie to Wonder Woman herself, and Nathan Fillion returning to voice Green Lantern. I thought it was a decent sequel to War, but if there’s one aspect of superhero movies I have had my fill of, it’s origin stories and this didn’t really do anything different or interesting to set it apart from any of the dozens of other origin stories I’ve seen already.
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JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time 2014

This is a movie you might not have heard about until recently even if you follow DC Animation, it’s a bit of a stealth release, only popping up on people’s radars when it was included in Target’s mailer last week as it is a Target DVD exclusive. One thing I immediately found out about it was that it is something much lighter in tone than many of the recent DC Animated movies. It’s much more in line with an updated version of Super Friends so I was excited because it was something that I could watch with my daughter Jena without worrying if there was too much blood in it. I’m always a fan of a time travel story and this has some very fun moments without bogging itself down with the nitty gritty details of it. The movie mainly follows a couple soon-to-be-members of the Legion of Super-heroes 1,000 years in the future: Dawnstar and Karate Kid. But back in the present, there’s also plenty of the Justice League and the Legion of Doom with many of their classic Super Friends roster with the addition of Cyborg who was only in the tail end of the Super Friends. I had a lot of fun with this movie and so did Jena.
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Justice League: Doom

Justice League: Doom 2012

I figured it was time for me to take another trip into the animated DC Universe, this time it’s Justice League: Doom. It still surprises me how many of these things are out there and how many I still have yet to see. This movie is centered around a plot to destroy the entire Justice League using stolen plans initially created by Batman but altered by the Legion of Doom. Of course, this isn’t the LoD from the old Superfriends cartoon, though their base does emerge from a body of water during it’s initial reveal. The members of the LoD are very different, but I’ll get to that in a little bit. The action is up to the usual par, including the level of peril. The first thing I noticed with this movie was also that it included the voicework of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly as Superman who really solidified their roles as those two during the 90’s animated series and various other works in the interim.
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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths 2010

I’m writing this bonus review because my daughter picked out this movie when we were at the rental store through no provoking from myself, I was in a completely different section of the store at the time. It’s one of the DC Universe straight to DVD animated movies from producer Bruce Timm who was the big driving force behind pretty much all of the DC animated stuff since Batman: The Animated series. I’ve seen a lot of the movies and they’ve all been pretty fantastic and if I continue this blog into next year, I will definitely be adding them to the list. But like I said, she picked it out, I watched it and wanted to write about it so here it is.

This movie mostly takes place on an alternate Earth where the typical supervillains became the heroes while the typical superheroes became the villains, and once again the same people win. Lex Luthor and The Jester are the last of the alternate Justice League to still be alive and the Jester sacrifices himself so Lex can escape with a special power source. He escapes to our Earth to recruit the Justice League to help his Earth. In this point in the timeline Batman is just in the final stages of creating their space station base of operations. They agree to help but Batman stays behind to watch over Earth in the meantime.

One of the first things I noticed about this movie is I didn’t recognize hardly any of the voice actors, no Kevin Conroy, no Mark Hammil though that’s not a big deal since the Jester had a small part. After a while it wasn’t quite a big deal, but for most of the movie they just sounded a little off. Without going to too much more detail on the plot, when there’s a story like this you just know there’s going to at some point be a big fight between everyone and their double. And there is. And it’s pretty good. Superman’s double is Ultraman who’s more of a mob boss to the crime family. The Flash’s double is some british guy named Johnny and I don’t think I ever caught his superhero name. Wonder Woman’s double is some lesser character who she fights earlier but ends up being matched with Super Woman who seems pretty much on par with Superman, though she never uses any heat vision. Martian Manhunter’s double looks fairly similar in design, but has four arms, four eyes, and is taken out by the Jester in the beginning. Green Lantern’s double is also pretty similar and I never remember catching his name either. And Batman’s double is more or less the main villain even though he’s not the leader of the villains as Owl Man voiced pretty well by James Woods.

There’s also a lot of talk about the infinite Earths in this movie. I’m familiar with the comic book storyline Crisis on Infinite Earths, in fact my initial choice for the name of this blog was “Movie Night on Infinite Earths” before I settled on the current name. I’m familiar that the story exists, but that’s about it. This movie explains the concept pretty well including the concept of “Earth Prime”, the original Earth where all existences originated from, which thankfully is not the same as our Earth. And if Earth Prime is destroyed, then all other Earths are destroyed as well. My only problem with that theory is that Earth is in no way the center of the universe. It’s just a single planet. But aside from that quibble as well as one other, since when can Wonder Woman fly? It was kind of cute how they introduced this movie’s origin of her invisible jet. It was actually Owl Man’s jet which had a cloaking device that they used to escape the villains on the second Earth. While they were escaping, the villains created a lightning storm around them which fried the controls for the cloaking device, but the jet remained cloaked. And at the end, the Flash hits his head on it and Wonder Woman merely comments “Spoils of War”.

The animation was great as usual for these movies, and it was fun playing the guessing game when they were going around fighting the various lesser villains on the alternate Earth. Since almost all of the villains had anywhere from minor to major design changes, but there was still enough similarity that you could recognize them. I think my favorite was a huge bulked up Jimmy Olsen who was still good friends with Ultraman. That, and when Lex Luthor proves that he’s not a threat to the Justice League during their first introduction by being naked in the police station. It’s a fun romp if you enjoy these kind of parallel universe type stories. I hope you enjoyed this bonus review, Thursday’s review will be Super with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. Until then, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.