REVIEW: Justice League vs. the Fatal Five
I have always been a big Legion of Super-Heroes fan and early on, designated Star Boy as my favorite Legionnaire. Maybe it’s because he was an underdog hero, but I’ve always liked him so was thrilled to see he would take center stage in the just-released Justice League vs. the Fatal Five. I admit to being a little less than thrilled they were going with the mentally unbalanced Star Boy as depicted in the Brad Meltzer run of Justice League. But, by pairing him with agoraphobic Jessica Cruz, I could understand the larger themes at work, I was fine with it.
I just wish their final product lived up to their intentions (and all the high-faulting hype seen on the bonus material). Instead, we get an over-stuffed, under-edited work that makes very little sense.
As best I understand it, Mano, Tharok, and the Persuader were going back in time to free the Emerald Empress and Validus from the sciencells on Oa in the 21st Century because apparently 31st Century prisons suck. To free the pair, they need to steal a time bubble from the Legion and Star Boy is brought along by mistake.
In the 21st century, Star Boy, without his meds, is considered a lunatic and assigned to Arkham Asylum for ten months. Meanwhile, the Fatal Three-fifths are seemingly trapped for a while until they get free then commit a lot of mayhem before leaving for Oa.
Said mayhem brings in the Justice League with trainee Miss Martian along for the experience, although so little background is given about her that if you weren’t familiar with Young Justice she’d be an anomaly. The League needs their Lantern, despite Jessica still struggling with the PTSD inflicted on her after witnessing her friends being gunned down two years earlier.
Seeing the villains on the news, Star Boy (or Thomas Kallor –why go from Thom to Thomas?) frees himself and finally begins making sense to the League.
What makes less sense is the villains making it to Oa with a coerced Jessica to breezily access the vast prison cells and free the final pieces of the puzzle. And of course, the Guardians of the Universe would allow the Empress to keep the powerful Eye of Ekron in the cell. When Salaak and Kilowog show up, they’re easily dispatched but apparently the devastating prison breakout doesn’t alert the all-powerful Guardians, who allow the Eye ro drain the Central Power Battery’s energy.
That doesn’t stop Jessica from finding her Green Lantern mojo which marks a nice turning point. I wish they left her ring as a snarky companion, ala the comics, along with Jessica’s early struggles at forming constructs but you get the idea.
They then threaten the Earth’s sun to end the age of heroes, creating a future without heroes to defeat them. The JL must make a desperate last stand to save the future and Earth and a few other things.
At least, that’s what I think the story is about. The fight scenes are too long and poorly choreographed (too often heroes stand around to get zapped). That said, there are some great lines of dialogue and nice character buts sprinkled throughout complete with a tear-inducing ultimate sacrifice and funeral scene. But it’s all too little to really make this, the 34th film from Warner Animation, truly enjoyable.
It’s certainly nice to see the JL Unlimited art style once more along with a cadre of familiar voice artists but this is disconnected from that series as well as the budding animated universe so this is ab odd stand-alone, produced and directed by Sam Liu, who has done better work. The script by Eric Carrasco, Jim Krieg, and Alan Burnet need a strong story editor’s hand.
The film is released in all the usual combo packs complete with the 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital HD edition. What already looks sharp o Blu-ray looks even brighter and sharper on the HDR10 disc. Technical fans will appreciate the improved colors, attention to detail and higher resolution. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is even better so you won’t miss the Dolby Atmos that usually accompanies these releases.
All the bonus features can only be found on the Blu-ray disc and they’re a fairly standard assortment. We begin with Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Director Sam Liu, and Screenwriters Jim Krieg & Eric Carrasco and they provide a lot of behind-the-scenes details.
There’s also A Sneak Peek at Batman: Hush (9:18) which lionizes a beautifully drawn but bloated serial that’s finally being adapted and Battling the Invisible Menace (8:05), which nicely addresses the mental health issues found in the film; Justice League vs. Fatal Five: Unity of Hero (15:11) pats DC on the back for being so diverse these days.
Packed into the disc as repeated Sneak Peeks for Justice League Dark (8:12) and Justice League vs. Teen Titans (11:31). From the DC Vault we get Legion of Super-Heroes, “Man of Tomorrow” (22:44) and Justice League Unlimited, “Far From Home” (22:57).