Judge Bryan Pope dons his Superman underoos and indulges in some Hall of Justice nostalgia. (We felt it best not to inquire whether his underoos still fit after all these years.)
Our reviews of Justice League (published May 16th, 2002), Justice League: Season One (published April 12th, 2006), Justice League: Season One (Blu-Ray) (published September 1st, 2008), Justice League: Season Two (published July 19th, 2006), Justice League: Justice On Trial (published April 9th, 2003), Justice League: The Brave And The Bold (published November 17th, 2004), Justice League: The Complete Series (published November 23rd, 2009), Justice League Unlimited: Season One (published January 3rd, 2007), and Justice League Unlimited: Season Two (published May 2nd, 2007) are also available.
"Sometimes it takes more strength not to fight."
It's been a good 28 years since I first darkened the doorstep of the Hall of Justice. That was back in the late '70s, when Gleek was the team mascot and the Superfriends were busy outwitting Mr. Mtzlplk or teaching schoolchildren not to stick their fingers in electric mixers. As evidenced by Justice League Unlimited: Saving the World, times have changed.
Facts of the Case
Saving the World includes three episodes from Justice League Unlimited:
• "Hawk and Dove"
• "Kids' Stuff"
I've been a fan of Justice League for some time now. This disc marked my first time out with them since they expanded and mixed up their roster, and I had a good ol' time. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman may have given Aqua Man and the Wonder Twins the pink slip, but they've recruited some cool faces. J'onn J'onzz (Martian Manhunter), Green Lantern, and Green Arrow are particular favorites of mine. The episodes included on this disc provide action that is fast and furious, and stories that are smart, topical, and grounded in reality juuuuuust enough to make the fantastical elements, um, fly.
This is especially true of "Hawk and Dove." Its ripped-from-the-headlines plot about warring factions in a third-world country receives much-needed comic relief from the actions-before-words Hawk and pacifist Dove. The Wonder Years brothers Fred Savage and Jason Hervey provide lively, amusing vocal performances, giving their characters' familial banter a rascally, frat-boy spark.
Like 1999's The Iron Giant, "Initiation" harkens back to '50s-era sci-fi with its story about a destructive, nuclear-powered monster. But unlike Hogarth's metal friend, this character is most assuredly a gun, and one that doesn't hesitate to open fire on panic-stricken civilians. After "Hawk and Dove," "Initiation"'s heroes-versus-behemoth action sequences may seem familiar, but they do give a different set of DC heroes the chance to strut their stuff.
Purists may get their tights in a wad over the inconsequential "Kids' Stuff," but it gives the core group of heroes a chance to spread their comedy wings. Once Batman, Superman, Princess Diana, and Green Lantern revert to their younger selves, all sorts of secrets come flying out of the closet. Green Lantern has poor vision and must wear ultra-nerdy glasses. Superman is a clueless doof. Princess Diana has the hots for Batman. The story bypasses high-octane action in favor of goofy fun, but it works.
Justice League Unlimited zips effortlessly between action, comedy, and drama, and it gives its superhuman characters very human qualities. Green Lantern, for instance, is irritated by the rookies, who act on impulse rather than fleshing out a plan of action. This is especially true of loose cannon Green Arrow. Other newbies worth noting are Captain Atom, who has the ability to absorb nuclear energy, and Supergirl, who, along with Princess Diana, brings grrrrrrl power to this boys' club. Finally, there's Ace and Gary…I mean, Hawk and Dove. Indeed, these characters bear more than a passing physical resemblance to Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo, with their form-fitting, coordinating outfits. One keeps expecting Hawk to send Dove into action with a playful slap on the butt.
Justice League Unlimited: Saving the World receives a crisp full-screen transfer. The colors are vibrant and eye-popping, and the picture looks flawless. Little surprise, really, since Warner Brothers treats most of their titles with great care. According to Amazon.com, some viewers were disappointed that the disc didn't preserve the show's original widescreen format. I can't recall whether the series was in widescreen or full screen, but the packaging for this disc states that the full-screen format preserves the show's original aspect ratio.
The Dolby 2.0 surround is dynamic and exciting. Justice League Unlimited's many action sequences rely heavily on strong sound effects, and this disc handled them beautifully. Dialogue and effects are nicely balanced, making for an exceptional listening experience. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.
The most entertaining extra on the disc is the bonus cartoon, "Keepin' Up with the Joneses." This fun cartoon shows what you would get if you crossed Pixar's The Incredibles with Disney's The Proud Family. Other extras include the Justice League Watchtower Database (character profiles for Green Arrow, Captain Atom, Supergirl, Hawk, and Dove), Save Gorilla City (a frustrating and forgettable interactive game), and a preview for the upcoming direct-to-video cartoon Tom & Jerry Blast Off to Mars.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For a kids' cartoon, Justice League Unlimited does an exceptional job of establishing a colorful and complex universe of fantastic, yet still believable, superheroes and supervillains. How disappointing, then, to not have entire seasons of this show on DVD so that we can experience the vast scope of the DC universe in its entirety. For now, I guess we'll have to make do with compilation discs such as this one.
Kids love superheroes, and these energetic, intelligent stories showcase a classic crew. Priced at less than $15, Justice League Unlimited: Saving the World is a bargain.
In the interest of truth and justice, the Justice League is free to go.
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Studio: Warner Bros.
• Justice League Watchtower Database
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