Atlantis, led by Aquaman's brother Ocean Master, attacks the East Coast of the United States, flooding major cities including Metropolis, Gotham City and several others. The Justice League comes together to help Aquaman turn back the tide, but soon learn they're woefully overmatched by the Atlantean Army, and must find a way to save the world from total annihilation. The crossover was spread across "Justice League" 14-17 and "Aquaman" 14-16.
There's a reason the character of Aquaman has never really caught on the way his DC counterparts Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash have – and that isn't because he's been ignored, under-promoted, under-used. It's simply because he's just not that interesting of a comic book superhero. Take Exhibit A: the latest DC Comics animated feature, 'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis'. Here, Aquaman (Matt Lanter) finally gets his home video due with an 'origin story' release, and – yep – he's the least interesting character in the entire movie. You know you're in trouble when the introduction to the character has him saving a lobster, but I digress.
Fortunately, while 'Throne of Atlantis' isn't a good Aquaman movie, it is a pretty good 'Justice League' story, as there's enough of the rest of the gang here to make this release worth a look. There's some very fun interaction between Batman (Jason O'Mara) and Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), as well as a continuation of the romance between Superman (Jerry O'Connell) and Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson). Rounding out the roster of heroes are Cyborg (Shemar Moore), the Flash (Christopher Gorham), and Shazam (Sean Astin).
Fans who were miffed at Aquaman's absence in last year's animated release of Justice League: War finally get an answer to why he was left out, as DC wanted to do an origin story for this release. That makes the animated 'Thrones of Atlantis' slightly different than the comic book version (which was a story arc as opposed to a stand-alone graphic novel), as Aquaman was already a full-fledged version of the League in the print story. However, most aspects of the plot are kept, with Aquaman's half-brother Orm (Sam Witwer) wanting to declare a war against the surface world.
There's a nice mix of both characterization and action in the movie, so if you're bored with one it won't be long before you get to the other. For myself, I rather liked the interchanges between most of the main characters, but found myself less enthralled with the action pieces, although I realize the big animated fight scenes are the reason many fans look forward to these titles. It all moves along at a brisk 72-minute pace, which may seem short and rushed to some, but seemed about right to me. In other words, the movie wraps up just at the point where it's starting to outstay its welcome.
Still, I'm not sure mixing Aquaman's origin in with this storyline was the best thing to do. His story here feels both by-the-numbers and rushed. It perhaps would have been better to have Aquaman already part of the League as the movie begins, and have his entire origin told in flashbacks while he's fighting the threat here. He just turns from a disgruntled barroom brawler into a noble hero a little too fast for believability in this release. Hopefully, the next Justice League title will show him as a more rough around the edges – that's what makes the 'New 52' (DC's latest, updated version of the Justice League in an entirely rebooted 'Universe') so appealing in the first place.
While I wasn't thrilled with most of the Aquaman aspects of 'Throne of Atlantis', I did like the rest of the Justice League characters quite a bit (with the possible exception of Shazam, who comes across as a spoiled brat…which I'm assuming is a reflection of the way he is/was in the comics). So while I think this origin story is below average in execution, the rest of this release is good enough to please most fans and followers of DC Comics and their animated features. This isn't the best movie they've done, but it isn't the worst, and it's certainly worth a viewing.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis' swims to home video in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The 50GB Blu-ray and the single-layer DVD are housed inside an Elite eco-friendly keepcase, with the DVD on the inside left and the Blu-ray on the inside right. There are two inserts included – one containing a code for an UltraViolet copy of the movie; and the other containing information for an online survey about the movie. An embossed slipcover with artwork matching that of the keepcase slick slides overtop the case (on a side note, is it just me, or does Aquaman on the front and back box cover look like a blonde-haired Tom Cruise?).
Both the Blu-ray and the DVD front-loaded with trailers for The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown!, 'Teen Titans Go!', and Lego: Justice League vs. Bizarro League. The main menu is a standard Warners one, with a still image of the box cover and menu selections along the bottom of the screen.
In addition to the combo pack reviewed here, there are a few retailer exclusives available. Target is offering this one in an exclusive steelbook, while Best Buy is offering the combo pack with an exclusive Aquaman figurine.
The Blu-ray in this combo pack is region-free.
Frequent viewers/purchasers of DC Comics' animated releases already know the issues that have haunted these titles in terms of video quality, and much of the same is present in the release of 'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis'. Banding continues to be the biggest problem with these animated titles from Warners, and it continues again here with this release. Aliasing and pixilation are less of a problem this time around than they have been in other DC titles I have watched (and granted, I've only watched a handful of the releases).
My biggest issue here has to do with the overall color scheme and animation, which has more do to with the animators than this transfer. Because so much of the story takes place underwater, DC/Warners has decided to put sort of a 'haze' over the image, to give an impression of the characters being in the ocean. While it manages to do that, it also manages to drain some color out of the movie. However, even the shots not taking place underwater seem rather drab to me.
With the above in mind, detail is still pretty good, and black levels are solid, if not exactly inky-deep. So, for an animated title in HD, 'Throne of Atlantis' disappoints, but for frequent watchers of these DC releases, it's about what most of us expected to see.
Early on, it sounded like the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track was going to be a big letdown, with almost everything up front except for the use of the rears to enhance the musical score. Fortunately, once 'Throne of Atlantis' hits some of its action-packed scenes, the rears are used for lots of ambient noises and directionality, and even the subwoofer kicks in from time to time with a few LFE effects.
Still, this is far from the most dynamic or immersive of tracks, but – like my description of the video above – it's about what fans have come to expect from these DC Comics' releases. It doesn't pack a ton of punch, but it's acceptable for a release of this type. The track is also free from any obvious glitches like dropouts, hissing, or the like.
In addition to the English lossless audio, the Blu-ray also contains 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks in Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin), and French. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
I have mixed feelings about 'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis'. If you're a fan of the Justice League as a whole, you're probably going to like this one, as the interactions between characters like Batman/Green Lantern and Superman/Wonder Woman are quite good. However, if you're hoping that DC has finally given Aquaman an animated movie worth his due, I'm not so sure you get that here, as this release serves primarily as an origin story for him – and not a particularly enthralling one. For a DC release, this one falls around the mid-range in terms of quality. Still, this is something most DC and comic book fans will want to add to their collection, and worth a viewing for the rest of us.