Before we begin, let me make two important disclaimers:
- I have not read Darwyn Cooke's DC: THE NEW FRONTIER on which the feature is based; and
- I absolutely hated SUPERMAN DOOMSDAY the creative team's previous DC animated feature.
Okay, that said... I loved this movie. Not liked. Loved. A lot.
I downloaded it on TIVO through Amazon Unbox Friday afternoon and watched it Saturday morning. I was stunned at how good the movie is.
I've not been thrilled with much of Warner's animation of late. As stated above, I did not care for SUPERMAN DOOMSDAY. It seemed rushed. The Saturday morning THE BATMAN and LEGION OF SUPER HEROES are both so heavily stylized, it just seems like eating candy. Nothing of substance there.
But THE NEW FRONTIER has a unique look and texture. I'm willing to bet that a lot of the credit goes to Darwyn Cooke, the creator of the graphic novel, who served as the film's art director. It's really quite lovely to watch.
In particular, I appreciate the manner in which Wonder Woman is portrayed. She is not some Barbie-doll character playing dress-up. There's power in and meat on those bones
Moreover, there's a story with pacing and characters you care about! That has to do not just with the writing, but also with the voice acting. Now, one of my major complaints about SUPERMAN DOOMSDAY was miscasting. Adam Baldwin was servicable as Superman in that film, but Anne Heche was horrible as Lois Lane and as much as I love James Marsters, he was misused as Lex Luthor.
New Frontier has none of those problems.
Kyle MacLachlan is great as Superman. David Boreanaz has a spot-on turn in the role of Hal Jordan. And I fell in love with Brooke Shields' Carol Ferris.
The cast and crew of Justice League: New Frontier knocked this one out of the park. Homerun city.
The movie is surprisingly violent. Moments into the story, a character is killed with a bloody gunshot to the head. A few minutes later, men's bodies are burned in the aftermath of a viscious battle facillitated by Wonder Woman. Neither scene is gratuitous and both scenes are important to the story. It is gratifying to see a mature management of the story.
Set in the Red Scare era of the 1950's, New Frontier is suspicious of not just Communists, but also superheroes in general and specifically outer space aliens - particularly the ones that "don't look like us." The inclusion of John F. Kennedy's New Frontier speech to the 1960 Democratic National Convention is a sublime touch.
New Frontier tells a grown-up story in what is all too often characterized as a child's medium. I am irritated by most of the animation that's out there today. New Frontier encourages me that American animators can do it right. They can tell serious, yet entertaining stories in the format.
New Frontier builds an interesting play ground. I'd like to see more of it, which is why I'll be picking up the graphic novel.
I'll be grabbing this one on DVD, too, so that I can watch it again-and-again-and-again...