Batman has joined the just formed Justice League in order to keep tabs on Superman, a mistrust that is complicated by Superman's bad (but well meaning) clone Bizarro and his creation of the Bizarro League, but an even bigger threat forces the two Leagues to join forces.
Me am bored of reviewing good movies on Blu-ray! So me watch sad cartoon called ‘League Bizarro Vs. Injustice League’ on VHS tape. Me am love movie so much, me recommend it to nobody!
If this were Bizarro World, the above paragraph would earn me a Pulitzer Prize for reviewing the latest in Lego DC Super Heroes animated movies. And the video in question, correctly titled ‘Justice League Vs. Bizarro League,’ would win a Nobel Prize for Blu-ray excellence. Unfortunately for the both of us, we live in the real world where readers are subjected to me whining and pouting about some cartoon made for kids, and the movie itself becomes upstaged by its second-billing accompaniment, ‘Batman Be-Leagured,’ which runs half as long, but provides more than twice as much entertainment value.
‘Justice League Vs. Bizarro World’ begins with the introduction of Bizarro, a creation by Lex Luthor which is the imperfect duplicate of the Man of Steel. This pasty, artificial “twin” talks like some grotesquely stereotyped foreigner, has the same type of powers as Superman, and does everything backwards Even though the character is as juvenile as comic books can get, Bizarro has been popular enough to be appear in almost every hourly reboot DC has to offer over the last 50 years, and has been recognized in one form or another in other media. (Back in the early 1980s, even ‘Saturday Night Live’ had ripped off the concept in skits which exemplified the very worst seasons of the show.)
Anyhow, Bizarro proves to be a destructive threat to Metropolis, so Superman lures him to a cube-shaped planet which has its own quirky atmosphere and geology, including “weirdiation.” Later on, the Justice League, composed of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Hawkman, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Plastic Man, band together face their longtime super-foes including Giganta, Captain Cold, Penguin, Gorilla Grodd and Deathstroke. A battle ensues and for a while, the good guys enjoy their victory . Then, Lex Luthor hatches his own nefarious schemes, by summoning Bizarro back, who uses the original weapon to create imperfect duplicates of Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg and Green Lantern.
Back on Bizarro World, Darkseid makes an grand appearance, nonchalantly stealing rocks off the planet (Bizarro thinks of these rectangular forms as people) as a source of power. Eventually, the heroes, partially disabled by the “weirdiation,” join forces with their artificial counterparts to challenge Darkseid. A climactic fight takes place (I won’t tell you who wins), and then the movie ends with Lex Luthor once again planning more evil and villainy…
‘Justice League vs. Bizarro League’ could have been a real fun and witty adventure and clever satire, especially with a comic character as corny and awkward as Bizarro. Instead, it feels like a DC comics geekfest made for adults, but aimed at 5 year olds. The incongruity makes this 48 minute film a rather tedious affair.
The movie has elements which should prove tremendously entertaining to hardcore comics fans including concepts like the attack of the Para-Demons, the clever use of the Boom-Tube, the appearance of the Hall of Justice building from the old Super-Friends cartoons, as well as characterization which are consistent with well-known storylines, including Batman’s distrust of Superman and Guy Gardner’s oversized ego. I also appreciated the design of the bright and colorful costumes and the direction of the action scenes, which are epic without being too busy. There are some subtle, visually inspired moments which will be appreciated by older viewers, such as when Flash streaks through the city in ribbons of red and gold, and when Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane are seen through windows of the Daily Planet, sliding across the floor building is tipped over (by Giganta, of course).
Yet, the slapstick humor is by and large simply unfunny and the dialogue is even less witty than George Lucas’s worst scripting from the ‘Star Wars’ prequels. Some of the lines are obviously meant to be hokey: “at least I can still fly, Wonder-less Woman!” mocks Green Lantern after she loses her power of flight. But the delivery from each character is either too strident or too amateurish, causing many of the jokes to fail time and time again. ‘The Lego Movie’ proved that you could create a kid’s flick which would be equally appealing to adults, but ‘Bizarro League’ fails stunningly. Even worse, the movie places too much emphasis on Batman and Superman, while Flash, Hawkman, Plastic Man and Green Arrow barely make an appearance. Then again, given the indistinct and clumsy introduction to these characters, they’re probably better off being left out of the adventure.
The animation itself is inconsistent when it comes to design. Since we’re dealing with a Lego world, it’s only natural that the settings and environment all be composed of plastic bricks, but such is not the case. Bizarro World, for example, contain structures which do not look like they are made of bricks at all, and other creatures (a giant teddy bear created by Bizarro Green Lantern, for instance) are presented as a generic illustration, with no attempt to make them look blocky or as if they were made from plastic pieces. If this sounds like nit-picking, I only bring it up because my ten-year olds found it equally puzzling.
Finally, and I hate to sound like a knee-jerk, politically correct, lefty commie-pinko, but I must raise an eye-brow to the voice acting by Khary Payton as Cyborg, which comes dangerously close to sounding like a Stepin Fetchit tribute early in the film. Almost every other culturally distinguishable character (Kryptonian, Thanagarian, Amazonian, and WASP) speaks in a generic, if overly-cartoony, speech pattern, but Cyborg sounds the most ethnically caricatured. Even Jar-Jar Binks would cringe at Payton’s delivery.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats:
‘Justice League Vs. Bizarro League’ is presented on a 25GB Region A Blu-ray disc, stored in a standard slipcase with an accompanying DVD version and Digital HD with Ultraviolet download. Inserts include a code for the digital download and advertisements for all things Lego. Even more important to Lego fans and collectors is the inclusion of a minifigure of Bizarro Batman (naturally, referred to as “Batzarro”) packaged in plastic on the boxcover. I really hate the idea of opportunists purchasing a movie just for the sake of an eBay-bound collectible, but it’s one of the few worthy bonuses in this Blu-ray Combo Pack.
The video is presented as a 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 which completely fills all standard 16:9 TV screens. The picture is a visual treat, with bright and bold colors, including multiple and distinctive shades of blue when it comes to the animated underwater scenes (as shown in “Batman Be-Leagured). There are many impressive moments where the paint textures of the plastic hair, and the threads running through capes are presented onscreen to convey the illusion that we are looking at real toys in stop-motion action. Even though this feature doesn’t contain the same degree of painstaking detail found in bigger budget Lego titles, the high definition picture is pure animated eye-candy.
'Justice League Vs. Bizarro League' is presented in 5.1 surround sound, in Dolby Digital as well as DTS-HD Master Audio. Overall, neither track really “pops” aurally in the same way the visuals do, but what is heard is more than satisfying for such a lightweight title. Directional sound effects are at their most impressive during the chaotic battle scenes, while dialogue remains positioned in the center channel. Deep bass is heard on occasion with onscreen explosions and machinery, but otherwise the dynamics are modest for a modern day production, though appropriate for what is essentially a kid’s film. It’s a shame that the accompanying featurette, ‘Batman Be-Leagured’ is presented in plain vanilla stereo.
‘Me Am Bizarro: The League of Opposites’ (HD 10:14). This bonus feature is a short, but informative little piece presented in stereo audio in high definition widescreen. It showcases the comics origins of the original character, and discusses the versions shown in main feature. Interestingly, the logical inconsistencies of when and how Bizarro talks backwards or acts oppositely are pointed out by writer Michael Jenick, but not really resolved, and is largely glossed over in the film.
‘Batman Be-Leagured' (HD 23:32). Presented in high definition and in Dolby Digital 2.0, this original featurette was directed by Rick Morales and written by Jim Krieg and originally premiered on Cartoon Network back in October of 2014. The movie focuses on Batman’s introduction to the Justice League, and adds enjoyable characters like Bat-Mite (who sounds very similar to Paul Reuben’s memorable version from ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’ cartoon). Although vocal talents are at the same generic level as ‘Bizarro League” (much of the same cast repeat their roles for both films), the writing is wittier and snappier, and more in tune to the quality set forth by ‘Lego Batman The Movie: DC Super Heroes Unite.’ For sheer entertainment value, this is Blu-ray bonus outshines and outclasses the main feature by leaps and bounds.
‘Be-Leagured Bloopers' (HD 2:24). This short clip is an amusing set of contrived outtakes (a la ‘A Bug’s Life’ and ‘Toy Story’) spotlighting Robin as a prankster. The reel ends before the jokes get too tiresome.
Other added materials include an advertisement for Legoland amusement parks and Lego toys. Front loaded trailers for upcoming animated features (that I intend to avoid like the plague) starring a certain dog and his stoner buddy, as well as a familiar prehistoric quarry worker can be skipped over with relative ease.
As the father of two young boys, I’ve been exposed to just about every animated Lego film there is (including all the cut scenes from Lego videogames). Most of them were fun and clever, though ultimately dismissible from an adult point of view. However, I did enjoy ‘Lego Batman The Movie: DC Super Heroes Unit’ which was composed of cut-scenes from the videogame, as well as fleshed-out original material. The inclusion of John Williams’s classic Superman theme and Danny Elfman’s Batman work was especially appreciated.
Unfortunately, ‘Justice League Vs. Bizarro League’ simply doesn’t have enough of those qualities to warrant a recommendation. I screened this movie for my whole family before reviewing it, and the only sounds I heard from the audience were restless sighs of boredom and shuffling of feet as we impatiently waited for the movie to end. (Fortunately, ‘Batman Be-Leagured’ restored my kids’ faith in Lego movies, even though they were initially wary of viewing it after seeing the main feature.) I can only assume that both the script and the direction were taken over by imperfect duplicates of presumably talented people.