A few items before we begin.
1. This movie was based on Mark Waid's tremendous Tower of Babel storyline in JLA that was amazing enough that it was adapted for the movie. The story was powerful enough that it crept into the entire DCU, and launched us into Infinite Crisis circa 2006.
Oddly, this story is rarely discussed, and Mark Waid is featured not-at-all on the Blu-Ray, and in my viewing, I missed his name, and I was looking for it.
2. This was also the final work by writer Dwayne McDuffie, who adapted Waid's story. It shows his trademark ability to translate continuity-heavy DC work into much more workable stories for the 85 minute films. It also demonstrates his ability to make the dialog sound plausible and build genuine character moments. And I am going to miss the hell out of seeing his name on motion pictures, television and comics.
3. On the heels of yesterday's post, I am reminded that there will be no shortage of DCE material for me to enjoy, and the small fee I paid for this Blu-Ray was less than what I'd pay for a tradepaperback. I believe I paid about $15.
So, yesterday I purchased and read Justice League #6 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee*, and I'd submit to them that they wrote just about the least interesting Justice League story I'd paged through since... I dunno, maybe the 80's. While I am torn regarding my loyalty to Mark Waid and my love of the original comics the movie Justice League: Doom was based upon, I can say - Johns and Lee did nothing over 6 issues but demonstrate that they don't know how to put together a compelling story with stakes, character or motivations, nor did they seem to understand that a hallmark of Justice League stories since Grant Morrison took the Pepsi Challenge circa 1997 was a constant ratcheting up of stakes and intensity. I give you Morrison's insane epic, World War III or, for that matter, Final Crisis.
Queen of voice casting and direction Andrea Romano (probably my weirdest crush), has re-assembled a good chunk of the voice cast of the Justice League/ JLU TV series, swapping some folks out. Tim Daly who did Superman: The Animated series is back as Superman (the talented George Newbern played Big Blue on JLU), Kevin Conroy IS Batman, Nathan Fillion plays Hal Jordan - subbing for Phil Lamarr who played John Stewart, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter. The movie adds Cyborg, played by Bumper Robinson.
I'm not exactly sure what to think of the movie itself. Its very well executed in many facets, including voice acting, choreography of fight scenes (something I noticed director Lauren Montgomery tackled well as far back as Wonder Woman), but it also assumes a fan's familiarity with the characters and their villains, to an extent. We get passing commentary on the comics'-based past of Batman and Bane, the complicated history of Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris is referred to repeatedly but not carried out. No explanation of anyone's "deal" is really investigated any more than it usually is in a Justice League comic where part of the fee for entry is knowing a bit about existing characters when you walk in the door.
The character design is definitely a departure from the blocky look on male characters and slight look on females established during the Bruce Timm years. Its not the mess I've felt that other applied styles have felt like, but it also looks... manga-influenced enough that Superman's face looks like a Deviant-Art fangirl's impression of a pretty 20 year old pop singer more than, you know - lantern-jawed Clark Kent.
Narratively, so much time is spent hatching the villains' scheme as the core of the movie, that much of what happens afterward seems anti-climactic. That the League was going to escape seems like a foregone conclusion, and the pacing at that point almost seems to acknowledge this point.
Maybe that's okay, because when we move into the 3rd act, the pacing feels right as we have our heroic confrontation, face deadly peril, deal with a typically way-too-cosmic problem with a way-too-cosmic solution that seems to be the best way to white knuckle through a JLA story.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie, even if I don't understand all of the changes (I actually think as a stand-alone story changing the central villain here more or less works fine), but I respect that McDuffie and Co. were making their own movie based upon the central core of Tower of Babel, not yoking themselves to fidelity of just one comic.
Oh, and I actually noticed myself enjoying the sweeping score on this movie, and would like to see this composer associated with more of the DC projects.
*Justice League delivered the greatest (by scale) villain of the DCU and turned him into Killer Croc just standing there taking punches for some reason. Apparently nobody at DC has instructed Lee and Johns that typically stories have a beginning, middle, end, protagonists and a point. If you liked this story, may I suggest that you stick to playing first person shooters on X-Box Live?</editorializing>