Justice League: Doom Blu-ray Review: Action Triumphs over Plot

DC’s latest animated movie pits its greatest superheroes against some of their most dangerous foes, meaning it’s light on plot and character development but heavy on the Boom! Pow! Smash! It’s based on a JLA comic book arc from 2000 called “Tower of Babel”, a story which hinged on Batman’s self-imposed role as a failsafe against the rest of his team should they ever turn evil. Unfortunately, his detailed plans on how to incapacitate the heroes fall into the hands of a criminal mastermind, in the film’s case Vandal Savage, who in turn utilizes those plans to recruit a new villainous roster for the Hall of Doom in the hopes of overthrowing the superheroes and ruling the world.

The story raises some interesting concepts surrounding Batman’s secret dossier, but doesn’t attempt to capitalize on them in any meaningful way until the closing frames. Instead, its primary focus is the slugfest between good and evil, with each superhero facing off against one of their own superbaddies, such as Superman vs. Metallo, Batman vs. Bane, and Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah. In the first round, the bad guys have the upper hand thanks to Batman’s pilfered plans, so they quickly dismantle the JLA and put Savage’s plans for world domination into play. Silly bad guys, thinking they might actually win. By the time the heroes reassemble and face off in round two, the only question left is how they will deal with Batman’s seemingly traitorous actions after they save the world.

The Justice League roster for this project includes DC’s holy trinity along with The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and in a nod to his current prominence in the recently relaunched JLA comic book, Cyborg. No matter how hard they market him, Cyborg will never be a top-tier player to me, but I’ll take him over a Hawkperson any day. I was mostly disappointed in the lineup for the villains, with lame choices such as Star Sapphire, Mirror Master, and the Royal Flush Gang rounding out the crew of one-dimensional thugs. However, as colorful punching bags they serve their purpose and allow the heroes to shine.

As usual for the DC films, the vocal cast is top-notch, with returning fan favorites Kevin Conroy (Batman), Tim Daly (Superman), and Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern) leading the way. The film shines on Blu-ray, with excellent image and sound quality throughout. The writing adaptation was helmed by long-time DC comic and cartoon writer Dwayne McDuffie, who tragically passed away during its production.

The Blu-ray bonus features include a surprisingly in-depth documentary about McDuffie, tracing his career through his pivotal role as co-founder of DC’s Milestone imprint to his work on the Justice League and Ben 10 cartoon series. There’s also an entirely overblown and self-important segment that imagines what would happen if the JLA went rogue, as well as a brief hype reel shilling Cyborg. Elsewhere, there are two full episodes of the Justice League cartoon series (also featuring the Royal Flush Gang) and a few digital pages of the original “Tower of Babel” comic book. The Blu-ray/DVD combo package also include an Ultraviolet digital copy of the film.

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Steve Geise

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