Justice League: Throne of Atlantis: Commemorative Edition Blu-ray Review: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

A good introduction of Aquaman into this iteration of the Justice League,
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are the writer's own.

Previously released direct to video in 2015, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, inspired by the graphic novel of the same name, serves as an origin story for Aquaman and shows the Justice League growing into a formal group. It has been now been released in a new Commemorative Edition as a tie-in with James Wan's Aquaman, set for release on December 21. The new edition presents the animated film remastered in 4k on a UHD disc and two new special features.

After a U.S. submarine is destroyed, resulting in its crew being killed and its nuclear missiles taken, Cyborg has to bring together the heroes of the recently formed Justice League, which isn't easy. Concurrently, a man named Arthur Curry is dealing with the recent loss of his father and reveals himself to being unusually strong. He is a hybrid, son of a human father and Atlantean mother. She rules Atlantis as Queen and expects her son to learn his true identity and lead her people peacefully.

Her other son, Prince Orm, wants to lead Atlantis in a war against the surface-dwellers. Orm's lackey, Black Manta, uses the stolen missiles in a false-flag attack against Atlantis to frame the humans while he murders his mother to take the throne. Arthur teams with the Justice League to fight his brother and his army.

The plot seemed to going down a well-worn path with the mighty heroes falling one by one until Aquaman is left to save the day, but the story offered a much better resolution. The art was a bit disappointing because the character designs looked odd. The bodies have similar unnatural shapes to them, particularly angular muscles across the chest and back. A couple of times characters needlessly use the word “shit” which is disappointing because there was no need for it.

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The colors appear in vibrant hues. Blacks are inky and whites are bright. For scenes set under water, the focus is softened. A poor directorial choice had some the action needlessly appear as if it were shot by a shaky camera. It was distracting and nonsensical.

The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The dialogue is clear, even the masked Black Manta and when characters are underwater. Composer Frederik Wiedmann's score sounds robust and filled the surrounds, as did the atmospheric and action effects. There is a good dynamic range and the elements are balanced well together. The subwoofer offers solid bass support.

The new special features are

  • Aquaman: The New King (15 min) tells the story of the character and how he evolved over the years.

  • Audio Commentary - Mike Carlin, Creative Director of Animation, and Throne of Atlantis screenwriter Heath Corson talk about the film.

The remaining features are:

  • Villains of the Deep (12 min) - Covering Aquaman's nemeses: Ocean Master and Black Manta.

  • Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep (30 min) - Wiedmann talking about his approach to the music he created for the film is the most interesting aspect of the piece.

  • Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence (4 min) - DC's DTV line of DVDs Executive Producer James Tucker delivers two different commentaries about this sequence that finds the characters following up Batman's pursuit of the Scarecrow. It runs 45 seconds.

  • Throne of Atlantis: 2014 New York Comic Con Panel (27 min) - The panel features voice of Aquaman Matt Lanter, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa, and dialogue director Andrea Romano discuss the making of the film. Questions from the audience appear as on-screen text.

  • Throne of Atlantis soundtrack is the film with music and effects but no dialogue.

  • A Sneak Peek at The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen

  • Four cartoons from the DC Comics Vault:

    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2010) - "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!"

    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008) - "Evil Under the Sea!" Black Manta and Orm appear.

    • Aquaman (1967) - "Menace of The Black Manta" and "The Rampaging Reptile-Men"

    • Justice League Unlimited (2006) - "Far from Home" - Not Aquaman related.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis serves as a good introduction of Aquaman into this iteration of the Justice League but those who have known the character for a while will likely be left wanting more. The story of palace intrigue is a bit familiar but succeeds when it doesn't head in an expected direction. The Blu-ray offers a pleasing HD experience with several special features about the film and related to the Justice League characters.

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