REVIEW: Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Aquaman finally gets his due in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, out now from Warner Home Entertainment. In the latest installment in the new linked video continuity, all inspired by the uninspiring New 52 reality. As is fitting in a spotlight film like this, Aquaman’s origins are explored so we also get the tried and true enmity between Arthur Curry and Orm, the Ocean Master. There’s lots of shouting, fighting, fish, and Sturm und Drang but honestly, not a lot of warmth and emotion—much like the current source material.
Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin) rules over forgotten Atlantis which is about to be proven a real legend as it braces for war. The undersea kingdom is discovered when Cyborg (Sean Patrick Thomas) investigates a sub having gone missing. Upon discovering the existence of Atlantis, he summons the rest of the Justice League — Superman (Jerry O’Connell), Batman (Jason O’Mara), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), Flash (Christopher Gorham) and Shazam (Sean Astin).
As the story churns along we meet drifter (get it?) Arthur Curry (Matt Lanter), who gets caught up in the battle, displaying unusual abilities to telepathically command sea life. He also meets Mera (Sumalee Montano) who has powers of her own and its true love in an eye blink. Arthur finally meets Orm (Sam Witwer), his half-brother who is angry at everyone. Aiding him, because one villain is never enough anymore, is Black Manta (Henry Lennix).
What is missing from the mess of heroes, villains, and fish is heart. Writer Heath Corson has become their go to writer but he is a by-the-0numbers scripter so there’s a sameness permeating the video. Director Ethan Spaulding may need to learn about characterization and pacing but Producer James Trucker should know better given his strong pedigree.
I’ve written previously about my dislike of the current character designs, too top heavy, too angular, and not really resembling their comic book counterparts. It’s more of the same here but it also looks a little cheaper, a little more rushed and stilted which is a shame.
The video comes in 1080p/AVC-encoded format which is fine for this limp effort bettered only by the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.
As has become habit with these discs, there are some fine and some less fine special features. What’s really missing is a piece placing Aquaman in context, exploring his 70+ year existence, noting his other media appearances and examining how he’s become the butt of pop culture humor. But that piece is missing. Instead, we have Villains of the Deep (12 minutes), which examines, instead, Ocean Master and Black Manta. While good, it needs the good guy counterpoint. There’s also Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep (30 minutes) which is a lengthy examination of the development and scoring with composer Frederik Wiedmann, Tucker, recording engineer John Rodd, and conductor Russell Steinberg.
A nice surprise is the Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence (4 minutes) as Tucker explains how this 45-second piece worked as a prequel to the Batman/Green Lantern Scarecrow chase. 2014 NY Comic-Con Panel (27 minutes) showcases Tucker, Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa, dialogue director Andrea Romano, and Aquaman’s voice Matt Lanter.
From the DC Comics Vault (83 minutes) offers up four episodes: “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!” and “Evil Under the Sea!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Menace of the Black Manta and The Rampaging Reptile-Man” from the 1967-70 Aquaman series, and “Far from Home” from Justice League Unlimited.