Movie Review: Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis (2015, Dir, Ethan Spaulding)

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WARNING! SPOILERS ARE SWIMMING AROUND WITHIN! WARNING! 

In the last Justice League movie subtitled, War, the movie ended with the heroes tentatively considering forming some kind of “league” to better defend the world. In this movie they finally come up with their destined name, Justice League, as we learn from Steve Trevor from a phone call while on his way to their S.T.A.R. Lab’s headquarters. Justice League tested better he tells whomever’s on the other end of the line.

Someone should tell the heroes though they are now part of a team. We get to see the inside of their “Hall Of Justice” at S.T.A.R. as it’s getting remodeled and fixed from the previous movie’s damage, but Cyborg is the only hero who frequents the headquarters. This all changes though after what we saw happen in the pre-credits sequence: a naval submarine on maneuvers in the Mariana Trench is attacked by a bunch of “somethings” that manage to get inside, kill everyone, sink and steal the warheads.

Cyborg investigates the wreckage and comes face-to-face with these “somethings.” They’re fast; they knock him down and even manage to put what looks like some kind of fancy dagger in his shoulder. He makes it out alive and then calls in the rest of the team. Wonder Woman actually recognizes the ancient markings on the dagger and surmises it came from the mythic sunken city of Atlantis.

I like how Green Lantern, who’s been to countless planets and has probably seen weirder shit than most of them put together, has a hard time believing in the mythic continent. Flash even points this very fact out to him.

‘Bout time I mentioned Aquaman since this is his movie and how he came to be known as “Aquaman.” Before any of that happens though we meet him as surface dweller, Arthur Curry, and he’s just lost his father. He’s in a bar getting drunk and gets into a bar fight. This is where we learn he’s stronger than a normal human and any blade you try and stick him with is going to break. He’s obviously aware of these odd things about himself and his history involved having a mother born of Atlantis and a surface dwelling father. He and his later father believe mother/wife, Queen Atlanna, as she’s now known in Atlantis, just walked out on them one day. She didn’t, well, technically, yeah, she did, but that’s because she was destined to marry the Atlantean King and be his wife and mother to their seaborn son, Orm.

Problems are arising in Atlantis. Black Manta and Orm are clamoring for war with the surface dwellers as revenge for the death of their King, which we saw in the after credits scene in War, but Atlanna is smart enough to know he was not deliberately killed by the surface dwellers but suffered as collateral damage from Darkseid’s onslaught. Orm doesn’t care about technicalities. He and Manta want war and Orm even resorts to killing his own mother when she firmly puts her foot down.

That’s not going to settle well with Arthur. And it doesn’t.

Arthur is finally indoctrinated into his destiny by another Atlantean. Mera is her name and she does incredible things with water, like making it into a weapon than can pierce and kill. It’s also clear there’s something between the two and both end up as a couple at the end. Ultimately this movie does get the Atlanteans onto the surface world to wage their war and Arthur circumvents it all nicely. Orm is put down, not permanently. He ends up in Belle Reve Penitentiary in the after credits scene.

I don’t know how DC/Warner does it but they made another animated movie that’s even better than their previous one. Throne Of Atlantis is a perfect sequel to War, with the heroes finally deciding once and for all to be a league. Cyborg even mentions he’s got some ideas for a “watchtower,” and Arthur comes by his Aquaman name during his official indoctrination as King at the end. Shazam casually mentions everyone online is calling him Aquaman, and Arthur states he hates that name.

91fftRiMKiL._AA1500_I also liked the unofficial Lovecraftian vibe/cameos. The Horror Of The Trench as Orm describes it looks an awful lot like a variation on Lovecraft’s Great Cthulhu and the trenchers, these humanoid fishmen creatures, just screamed, “Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

One thing that irked me though is while all the heroes are underwater in Atlantis, Wonder Woman and Superman are not wearing any kind of air breathing device and can talk normally like Aquaman, while Flash, Cyborg and Shazam, I think, are wearing air breathers. Lantern has is own Lantern force field so that didn’t bother me but Wonder Woman and Superman’s breathing/talking underwater I couldn’t quite explain.

Seek this one out, fans, it’s got a great story and like always great animation.

Warner Brothers releases Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis on separate DVD and DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy editions on January 27th.

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1—English, French and Spanish subtitles

Here is the list of extras for the DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy:

  • “Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep (30:05)
  • Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence (3:50)
  • “Throne of Atlantis”: 2014 NY Comic-Con Panel (26:44)
  • “Throne of Atlantis” Soundtrack
  • A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie: “Batman vs. Robin” (10:09)
  • “Villains of the Deep” Featurette (11:33)
  • From the DC Comics Vault – 4 Bonus Cartoons (Batman: Brave & The Bold: Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure; Batman: Brave & The Bold: Evil Under The Sea; Aquaman: Menace Of The Black Manta & The Rampaging Reptile-Man; Justice League Unlimited: Far From Home)

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