Justice League: The New Frontier (2008, 75 minutes)
Plot: In the 1950s, the Justice League forms to tackle a mysterious supernatural psychic threat known as The Centre.
Source Material: Based on Darwyn Cooke’s epic miniseries DC: The New Frontier (which I own, along with this film), this is an abridgment that maintains much of the plot. In fact it’s kind of amazing how much of the source gets on screen. The key difference is pacing with the movie moving much faster through its events. A lot of character beats are left in the book.
Animation: Utterly lovely. Oh this is one to watch if only for this. Cooke has a very distinct style that the film nails. Cooke, a WB Animation vet, was the character designer which shows as these look like his variants. The late 50s/early 60s setting gives the film a unique feel as well. Action is first rate. The animation comes from WB and it’s easily on par with their TV efforts, not to mention the films that would follow this, their second film in the DTV series.
Script: This is really a fascinating one to study because so much does get packed in but the film never feels rushed. The dialogue is solid. The pacing is good. Writer Stan Berkowitz (who also wrote future subject Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) is a veteran of the WB animation stable and feels right at home here.
Voice Acting: Solid though no real star turns, which actually fits. The film has a first rate cast including Neil Patrick Harris as the Flash, David Boreanaz as Green Lantern, and the had to happen once Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman. The real strength comes from Miguel Ferrer’s quiet, solid turn as Martian Manhunter and vet Phil Morris as King Faraday, a government agent who befriends the alien. It’s all strong stuff.
Final Verdict: Well, this is likely obvious. This is the first but not last 5 in the series. It’s not perfect but really, this is a theatrical level experience. Epic in scope and lushly animated, this is a damn good film.