tek's rating:

Justice League: The New Frontier (PG-13)
DC Comics; DC Database; IMDb; Legions of Gotham; TV Tropes; WB Shop; Wikipedia; World's Finest

This is based on a comic book miniseries which I haven't read, though I'd probably like to someday. The story is set between 1953 and 1960, and introduces us to several familiar superheroes, in a context which may not be entirely familiar to modern fans. It reminds me just a bit of Watchmen, though of course it's not really on the same level. But McCarthyism plays a role in the background situation of the world and how superheroes fit into it (and how the general public feels about them). Most members of the Justice Society have either retired from crimefighting or been killed, and any who remain active have had to swear an oath of loyalty to the United States. However, the current ideology of the U.S. isn't what it used to be, so it's hard for heroes to go along with it. This is obviated chiefly by Wonder Woman, who continues to do what she thinks is right by obeying the letter of the law, if not the spirit... seeing as her spirit and the law's are now at odds. Which Superman finds disturbing, but he still considers her his best friend, I guess.

Still, they're not the main heroes in this movie. There are several others who are more important to the plot, and we also see some who are less important, without even speaking roles. One of the major characters is a fighter pilot named Hal Jordan, who served in the Korean war, and later on, his friend Ace Morgan got him a job working as a test pilot for Ferris Aircraft, which is run by Carol Ferris, the daughter of the actual head of the company. (Hal flirts with her quite a bit.) But Hal is more directly supervised by Colonel Rick Flagg. And there's a government guy named Faraday who is also an important part of Ferris's secret project... But I'm getting ahead of myself. Another major character is a Martian named J'onn J'onzz, who had been inadvertently teleported to Earth by some scientist at an observatory. J'onn is a shapeshifter (and there was a pretty amusing scene where we see him watching TV and appearing as whoever he sees on the screen). He tries to blend in with human society, since he has no way to return to Mars, and becomes a police detective, using the name John Jones. But the government is aware there's a Martian on Earth, and since they couldn't find him and didn't know what his intentions might be, they want to go to Mars, themselves. That's where Ferris Aircraft comes in.

Meanwhile, we also see the Flash (aka Barry Allen), who has been breaking the rules about unregistered superheroing, which makes him a criminal in the eyes of the government. Eventually he quits, so that his secret life doesn't put those he cares about in danger. (The only one of these we see is a reporter named Iris West, who is Barry's girlfriend, or maybe his fiancee, I'm not sure.) Another superhero who is a fugitive from the law is Batman, who eventually starts working with John Jones to try to uncover whatever they can about a cult that's building up concerning something called "The Centre," the main villain of the movie, who actually narrated the beginning of the film. The Centre had come into being early in the world's pre-history, and was very powerful. But after the Ice Age, it watched the evolution of humanity, as people became more and more dangerous. Now that we had nuclear weapons, it decided we must be wiped off the face of the Earth once and for all. And it's been psychically controlling or speaking through various people.

Well, eventually Hal receives a Green Lantern ring from a dying alien named Abin Sur, so he'll become a superhero, himself. And... at some point the Centre actually makes its attack, and all the heroes we've seen so far must band together, along with other ones, and the military, and they all have to overcome their distrust of one another to face a greater enemy that none of them could possibly deal with alone. So, the good guys come up with a plan on how to work together to defeat the Centre, which is actually this big flying sentient island on which live all kinds of dinosaurs that serve as a nearly impenetrable defense. Oh, and throughout the film, I should mention that Lois Lane has been reporting on various things, and most dramatically upon the attack itself. (We also see that she has a relationship with Superman, and she helps him realize that he needs to rethink his blind devotion to the government.)

Anyway, I don't want to say how it all ends in any detail, but it was pretty decent, and of course it ends with the formation of the Justice League. There's a lot to like about the movie, like the sort of retro animation style (and in general just feeling like it's really taking place in the 1950s, with lots of context from that era), and the seriousness of everything (there's some genuinely violent imagery), but also some nice humor and character interaction. I suppose the movie had some minor flaws. I kind of would have liked someone to say "Hey, maybe the Centre has a point," for example. And I did think there was an awful lot going on, and felt that maybe having so many characters made it hard to really devote too much time to any one of them (let alone keep track of them all), but looking back on it, I'm not sure why I thought that. I actually think they did a pretty good job with what little time they had. Anyway, for the most part I think it was a pretty good movie....


animation index