Monday, 29 December 2008
Disaster Year: 2008 Awards - Wasted Opportunity: Justice League: The New Frontier
Wasted Opportunity: Justice League: The New Frontier
If I'm honest, I never really expected Batman: Gotham Knight to be much cop. I hoped, especially when Yoshiaki Kawajiri seemed to be involved, but never expected. It was a cross-promotion too far. Tacky, and money grabbing, where The Animatrix was inspired. Ditto for Superman: Doomsday, an animated feature likely born out of some Warners suit somewhere remembering that the Death of Superman storyline made them a lot of money several years ago, and hadn't they better adapt that? Nope, nope. The great white hope for Bruce Timm's newly minted animated feature venture was a motion piece based on Darwyn Cooke's zip-pow Golden to Silver Age bridge: DC: The New Frontier.
The signs were great: Cooke was on-board in various consulting capacities, his in-flight pop sci-fi style had been adequately captured for standardised animation, and Justice League Unlimited mise superstar Joaquim Dos Santos was boarding a sequence. It couldn't fail! In my dizzy little head the cream of American animation, with a track record of consistent brilliance, had found themselves laser-targeted at a chunky tome of no small excellence. How do you fuck that up? Apparently, you do that by allowing the adaptors only 70 minutes of screentime for 400+ pages, and bestow upon them a budget best described as meagre to okay. Thanks!
It's not even that Justice League: The New Froniter is a disaster, it's not. It's actually a fairly decent, if undemanding, monster mash. What sticks in my throat is how good it could have been. How much richer it would have been had they had length to include era flourishes like civil rights vigilante John Henry. How much more interesting it would have been to see the obscure World War II DC heroes lauded rather than the same old super-faces. Instead it's another Superman and pals adventure. Albeit, a damn pretty one.
As a snide aside, technically speaking, it's not up to scratch either. The action scenes - particularly Batman's 30s rugged intro - lack punch panache, and the torturous speeding through kaleidoscopic alien brains is stuck somewhere in second. Presumably retakes were an expense too far. So there!