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JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER

Justice League: New Frontier is the kind of super hero film I've been dying to see for a long time. This direct to DVD release (which comes out February 26th, and premieres at San Francisco's Wonder Con this weekend) is a gorgeous work of art that will likely go down as one of the best comic book films ever made.

Based on the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, this "alternative universe" tale takes the classic DC Comics characters and puts them in the McCarthy crazy Cold war environment of the early '50s. They're operating a bit under the radar, as the US Government has essentially outlawed the existence. An ancient evil and near godlike threat arises which changes the game.

We get a fun origin story that shows how Korean War veteran Hal Jordan gets a job as a test pilot and becomes Green Lantern. A very cool Martian Manhunter story that gives plenty of screen time to his original J'ohn J'onnz detective persona, and a Superman that's torn between serving his country, and what's truly the right thing to do.

The animation and storytelling is top notch. The entire piece is done in a retro '50s style that's eye-popping beautiful. Just look at the scene above set in a cool Vegas Casino. The whole palette used for this film is just full of vivid and dynamic color just like this.

The voice cast is top notch, too. Lucy Lawless and Kyle MacLachlan are particularly great as Wonder Woman and Superman. I especially like that they made Wonder Woman a full blooded Amazon hottie who's actually a bit taller, and more intimidating than Superman. In the scene pictured above, Superman is chastising her for letting some female prisoners of Chinese soldiers execute their captors after being tortured (and likely raped). Wonder Woman just stares him down and tells him to "Take a hike, Spaceman!"

Batman is pretty damn scary in this film, too. We're first introduced to him taking out an evil cult that's about to sacrifice a boy! Wearing his original Bill Finger designed outfit, he ends up scaring the kid just as much as the bad guys. An incident which helps soften him up a bit, and explain why he brings Robin around a bit later on.

Green Lantern is the star of the film, however. His back story is intriguing and probably one of the best versions of his origin I've ever seen. With the ability to make just about anything with his power ring, he's certainly one of the underrated badasses of the DC Universe.

I can't say enough about this great DVD. If you're even just a casual fan of super heroes, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. There's also an incredibly thorough documentary about the history of The Justice League with all sorts of notables from Denny O'Neil to Stan Lee offering their take on the group, and a fun extended preview of the upcoming Batman anime influenced DVD Batman Gotham Knight.

A word of caution, however, that this PG-13 rated film is definitely not for the little ones. Though there's no language to worry about, there's a suicide by gun, a point blank gunshot to the head, and verbally described implied rape that'll make it a bit more extreme than your standard Super Friends, fare. I would imagine a kid over 10 with parental guidance wouldn't have a problem with it, though. The good guys win, and the bad guys get what they deserve.

I give this my highest possible recommendation.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

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