The next report card is for the most recent installment in the animated DC Comics continuity entitled Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis—directed by Ethan Spaulding; written by Heath Corson (screenplay) and Geoff Johns (story); starring Matt Lanter (Aquaman / Arthur Curry), Sean Astin (Shazam), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Christopher Gorham (The Flash), George Newbern (Steve Trevor), Jerry O'Connell (Superman), Sean Patrick Thomas (Cyborg), Sumalee Montano (Mera), Sirena Irwin (Queen Atlanna), Steve Blum (Computer Voice) and Jason O'Mara (Batman).
I have never cared about Aquaman. The character has always been a bore or something that I found silly. This is partially because of the whole "talking to fish" thing being one of his primary powers (so lame), but a big factor is how I'm just not a fan of magic and classic warriors. However, this story is without a doubt the best that I've seen or read in terms of making me interested. The downside to this film, however, is that there are many characters and it is too short to give all of them something worthwhile. As with Justice League: War, The Flash is essentially pointless. Batman is on point, as are Wonder Woman Orm, but Superman is a tad underwhelming. Black Manta is nothing but an underling, so there isn't much to talk about there, and if it weren't for them being the comic relief, Green Lantern and Shazam wouldn't have much to say or do. As a part of a series, this is somewhat okay, but as a standalone film, it leaves much to be desired. I still maintain that Cyborg is not worthy of a spot in the Justice League series, but more so than ever, I get the point of having him be the "everyman." I just wish that spot would go to Martian Manhunter instead.
Animated films are a little tough to judge on the acting side of things. For the most part, unless the voice acting is horrible, there isn't much to review. Some lines were delivered a bit cheesily than I would have preferred, but this is a film for kids, so it's more likely to feel "over the top" than if it were targeted toward adults. The strongest performances would be those given by Sean Astin and Nathan Fillion, in my opinion. I still miss Kevin Conroy as Batman, and I still think having George Newbern here as Steve Trevor instead of Superman is a mistake. I wouldn't mind seeing Rosario Dawson return to the role of Wonder Woman in the future, although I'm still partial to Susan Eisenberg and even Maggie Q.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): B+
For the most part, I like this animation style. There are still some clunky character figures, and sometimes you can tell when they transition between different CGI formats (I'm looking at you, lighthouse destruction scene), but everything is pretty solid overall. In the past, there have been DC animated films in which people have beady eyes and huge lips, or their torsos are the size of mountains and incredibly disproportionate to their actual body size, but those aren't really flaws here.
MUSIC & SOUND: C
When it comes to the sound and the music, none of it was memorable or offensive. Both aspects were perfectly fine in a generic sort of way. That's a positive with regard to sound; you shouldn't be taken out of the environment by it. With regard to music, however, that's a negative, because I should want to listen back and get the soundtrack, yet I can't recall a single note from this score.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): A–
A film like this should balance out all of these elements but mostly focus on the action to appease its target audience.
ACTION: No complaints here. It's gritty enough to feel somewhat realistic, but not so gritty as to lose the fantasy element that makes it fun. Blood would be shed in this kind of a scenario, and it's nice to see that that is neither ignored nor amped up to ridiculous levels just for shock value.
COMEDY: Almost every joke lands well for me, particularly when delivered by Green Lantern. For example, his dubbing Arthur "Aquaman" just because Arthur hates the codename is fun.
ROMANCE: Arthur Curry and Mera's relationship feels a bit more natural than what I've seen before and is definitely the highlight in terms of romance, although I did like the flirtation between Wonder Woman and Superman as well. The very short subplot romance of Cyborg with the doctor (whose name I don't even know, that's how miniscule it was) was forgettable and basic.
FINAL GRADE: B–
When you pop this movie in to watch, you know what you're setting yourself up for. Naturally, it is nowhere near on par with some epic Oscar-worthy feature film, but that isn't what it strives to do. As a movie for the comic book audience to merely sit and enjoy, this does its job admirably. It feels like watching a really good two-part episode of an ongoing Justice League series with better animation. Fans of the comics should have no problem liking this, unless they are too concerned with it not being a 100% perfect adaptation. If you can put that aside, and you're up for this style of film, I definitely recommend it.