I'm on Another Superhero Kick

Don't let the title confuse you. I'm always into superheroes and comics, but the amount of focus I give them comes and goes. This recent upswing has come about after watching six seasons of "Smallville" on DVD in the past month. I'd been curious about it for awhile, I had even seen a few episodes when it first aired a few years ago (from the fourth season, I believe), but by then the story had gotten into full swing and I was a bit lost. There's one comic geek in me that can't like it because it ignores a lot of the Superman timeline that was established by the comic books, but the other just likes seeing the superpowers in action. I'm more of a Batman fan and if there were a live-action TV show, I may have to be strapped down in a chair to prevent myself from causing harm to those around me if any liberties were taken with the sacred history of the Dark Knight. I still like Superman though, and any creative license the writers wish to take is alright by me.

However, this is about an animated movie that was released by DC about a month ago; "DC: The New Frontier". The film is based on a graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, and as you can see by the image to the left here, the art style is a bit "older", so to speak. That's because it takes place in the mid-1950's around the time that the hunt for Communists in America is in full swing. The heroes that America once so eagerly accepted into their lives to save them from countless dangers have been forced to quit or work with the government to keep them in check. A new risk rears its head, however, and it takes the combined efforts of the worlds superheroes to defeat it, which leads to the creation of the Justice League of America (JLA).

The JLA is a great comic because it brings all the big names together and allows them to interact with one another. That's really cool for a kid to see. I guess it helps with the whole "teamwork" concept that one develops as a child. This story was an interesting one though, because no one had touched the story of these superheroes in that time period before. What I mean by this is, there was a period when the comics were headed in one direction (during their initial popularity) and then there was a decline and the JLA came about in order to resurrect their status. In that time there were a few changes to characters that were made and there wasn't really a reason behind it (although it was really just do to changing artists and writers). "New Frontier" bridged that gap though. Batman, for instance since he's the best one (no bias there), was a very dark character in order to scare criminals. During this story it takes an incident in which he's saving a child and the reaction of fear that the child has over his appearance is the reason for the change to a more light-hearted character and the inclusion of Robin. A touch that I thought was very insightful in the reasoning behind those changes. Another interesting touch was to make Wonder Woman taller than all the men, including Superman. She's an Amazon princess, and according to legend, their all supposed to be taller and stronger than the average man. Wonder Woman was never really shown in the typical "Amazonian" style though. Instead, artists opted for a much more feminine look which would, obviously, be better for sales.

Now, I thought the story was absolutely great. It's a little rushed, but that's what all adaptations feel like. If they were going to stay true 100% to the graphic novel, the movie would, probably, have been a few hours long. The gripe I have is with the voice acting. Not all of it, there were a lot of good choices on the actors and they did fantastic jobs, but the voice of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern was horrible. David Boreanaz, from the show "Bones" that is currently on Fox, gives a really flat performance. Yeah, it's a two dimensional, animated film, but that doesn't mean your believability needs to be too, pal. I haven't seen the guy do much live-action work, I know he was in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and then his own spin-off "Angel", but even then I thought he wasn't great. I'm really curious about how his casting came to be. It was just frustrating to be watching it, enjoying the story and then have him deliver his lines so flatly. It completely took me out of the experience and remember that I was watching a cartoon. The voice of Batman, Jeremy Sisto, was a bit hard on me too. He's got a cool, threatening kind of voice, but it's one of those that you could hear from a woman in her mid-40's that smokes three packs of Marlboros a day. I got used to it, but it was difficult.

No comments: