When I first heard that Bruce Timm and company were bringing back the old stars from the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) I got more than a bit excited. I marked the release date on my calendar and waited patiently for it to role around, once it released, I started stalking the local video rental store, waiting to get my hands on a copy, when that didn’t work, I broke down and bought it. I would like to say that it was worth the money, but even after watching it several times, I’m still not sure I wasn’t better off renting it.
First the good. The score for this film was wonderful! The opening theme in particular really struck me; it was vibrant, menacing, and really stuck in your head. The music was definitely a strong part of Doom and I hope the composer is brought back for future films.
Now for the bad… or rather, the mediocre. The animation was good, but when compared to another DC animated release this year- Batman: Year One– it was lackluster in comparison. It lacked the rich detail, fluid animation, and it had a very anime feel to it. I enjoy Japanese animation as much as the next geek, but seeing Superman with the big ol’ anime eyes just looked wrong.
Here is where Justice League: Doom takes the biggest hit. Plot wise, it is loosely based around the Justice League: Tower of Babel storyline. In said storyline, Batman has created contingency plans against the members of the Justice League in case they ever go rogue, and these plans are stolen by Ra’s a Ghoul and put into action by his trained assassins. In Justice League: Doom, the contingency plans are stolen by Vandal Savage- an immortal hailing from man’s neanderthal days. Ra’s has always been a more threatening villain than Savage, so I question his replacement. Justice League: Doom also boasts the change of replacing the assassins with one villain for every hero- Metallo for Superman, Bane for Batman, Mirror Master for The Flash… and so on. More or less crossing the Tower of Babel storyline with the Legion of Doom.
The only improvement on the comic was the contingency plans themselves. All in all, I thought Justice League: Doom– when they changed the methods- came up with more creative ways to incapacitate our heroes. Green Lantern’s in particular very very clever. As for Savage’s ultimate goal, it was very similar to that of Ra’s. Without giving anything away, Ra’s executed his plans in a more elegant manner which also made for a more interesting story, while Justice League: Doom was bit lacking.
This was the greatest part of the movie. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, many actors from the DCAU series returned- Tim Daly as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash, and the epic list goes on. Even embodying the comic personalities of the characters as opposed to their animated counterparts, these voice acting veterans did a fantastic job. For example, Bruce Wayne is far more grim than he was in Batman: The Animated Series, or Justice League, but Kevin Conroy still nails it. The only thing the bothered me initially was Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash, as his tone was far more serious. This is explained later by the fact that Michael was portray’s Barry Allen’s Flash, not Wally West’s. For those used to Michael’s portrayal of The Flash in the Justice League animated series, be warned that he is playing a different incarnation of the Scarlet Speedster.
In addition to the originals, some new actors are brought in as well. Sci- Fi fans are likely familiar with names like Nathan Fillion- Green Lantern and Claudia Black- Cheetah. Claudia Black’s performance in particular impressed me. Known for her portrayal of Vala Maldoran in Stargate SG-1 and Aeryn Sun in Farscape, she does a fantastic job of playing one of Wonder Woman’s primary villains. Claudia’s silky smooth tones barely cover an animalistic growl as she taunts the Princess of the Amazons throughout the film. She also gets the chance to exercise her voice acting talents further, but I can’t say why without potential spoilers. I wish this particular scene had been expanded, but alas, no such luck.
Nathan Fillion also sparked my interest. Justice League: Doom features Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern, and Nathan Fillion’s voice is perfectly suited to the cocky pilot. Not only that, but the vocal emotion that Nathan gave Jordan was stunning, going from angry, to devastated, to flirtatious… the man just never wore down!
All in all, the only thing that really saved Justice League: Doom was the voice acting and the music. For that alone I would recommend watching the film, but if you are looking for engaging plot comparable to the Tower of Babel storyline, I’d look elsewhere. For a beautiful score, superb acting, and a plot that was at least coherent enough to give the actors something to work with, Justice League: Doom gets 3 out of 5 wagons.