“Justice League” remains one of the best animated series ever made with some great action scenes intermixed with compelling stories and character development rarely seen in the genre. This season is probably the best but the remaining two, under the title “Justice League Unlimited” are still fantastic viewing. With regards to the Blu-ray I’m happy to report we finally got a proper widescreen transfer.
Genre(s): Animation, Action, Fantasy
Warner Bros. | NR – 625 min. – $39.99 | July 26, 2011
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): Bob Kane, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel (characters)
Cast: Carl Lumbly, George Newbern, Phil LaMarr, Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, Michael Rosenbaum
Features: 3 Episode Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scene, BD-Live
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): Region Free
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Note: Portions of this review were taken from my “Justice League” season one review.
Plot: Dangers across the galaxy threaten Earth — and the only obstacle to the annihilation of the human race is the Justice League. But having super powers doesn’t make these heroes immune to human nature. Deep-rooted feelings of mistrust and insecurity surface and plague the League, causing internal strife and leaving them vulnerable to attacks from their enemies. But when one of their own commits the ultimate betrayal, it could be the end of the Justice League and Earth forever.
Writer, producer and character designer Bruce Timm has come up with at least two of the most popular animated televisions series and some of the best material in the DC Universe. Starting in 1992 with “Batman: The Animated Series”, Timm has given comic book fans great stories and animation style for which it was followed up giving Superman his own animated series as well. “B:TAS” also produced a fine Batman movie (and The Batman/Superman Movie) as well as a couple mixed efforts with Superman: Doomsday, Batman: Gotham Knight, All-Star Superman (I know fans loved it, but I found it to be the most disappointing) and Justice League: The New Frontier as well as a couple good flicks, one’s I enjoyed, in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Batman: Under the Red Hood.
In any case, with the success of “Batman” and “Superman” animated series, it was only natural to tackle the juggernaut of superhero team-ups, the “Justice League”. This series, which originally aired on Cartoon Network in 2001, features a super lineup with Batman (once again voiced by KEVIN CONROY in his fourth stint as The Dark Knight), Superman (GEORGE NEWBERN, replacing Tim Daly), Wonder Woman (SUSAN EISENBERG), The Flash (MICHAEL ROSENBAUM), Green Lantern (PHIL LAMARR), Hawkgirl (MARIA CANALS-BARRERA) and J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter (CARL LUMBLY).
In the second season, “Justice League” follows the same formula as the first season where we get 26 episodes, mostly 2-parters with the occasional stand-alone episode that doesn’t have much baring on the season as a whole, though they are good for more character development for the secondary heroes (like Hawkgirl, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter). And it is the character development that makes these animated series stand out from the rest where we get more personal storylines such as the two-part premiere, ‘Twilight’ (before those emo vamps/werewolves ruined the title) where Darkseid (MICHAEL IRONSIDE) has something up his sleeve when he implores the League to come to his aide as his planet, Apokolips, is under attack by the Kryptonian supercomputer Brainiac (COREY BURTON). After much reluctance by Superman, the League stops Brainiac only to discover it was all a set-up (shocking!).
The season as a whole are fun, adventurous filled with sly humor, especially between Superman and Batman who typically butt heads, and for what most might consider a kids’ show, is filled with some great storylines and characters with deep rooted emotions. While it doesn’t compare to “Batman: The Animated Series” both in terms of story and animation or even “Superman: The Animated Series”, it’s still one hell of a series that any comic book fan will love.
The two-discs in this set are contained in a standard Blu-ray case with a matted slip cover. This is a change from the first season which did not come with a slip cover and was in a thicker BD case. The 26 episodes in the first season set were spread across three discs.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
Episode Commentaries – Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Butch Lukic (director) & Dwayne McDuffie on ‘Twilight Part Two’ (producer); Timm, Tucker, Stan Berkowitz (writer) & McDuffie on ‘A Better World Part Two’; Timm, Tucker, Lukic & McDuffie on ‘Starcrossed Part Three’.
The Justice Lords and Beyond (17:07; HD) – “The Justice Lords” were a totalitarian alternate reality version of the “Justice League” and just one possibility in an infinite series of realities within the DC Universe. This featurette is an exploration of the on-going alternate timelines and different reality storylines within the DCU, both in print and in animation. It’s an interesting featurette covering alternate universes and how they integrate it into the comics and series (it was also the basis for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated movie and, of course, the two-part episode ‘A Better World’). ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Voices of Justice (10:37; SD) is a featurette examining the voice talents involved with the series with comments from the cast including George Newbern (Superman), Maria Canals (Hawkgirl), Jennifer Hale (Giganta/Killer Frost), Phil LaMarr (Green Lantern) and Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman). They talk about the differences between doing voice work over acting and other topics.
Justice League Declassified (8:02; SD) – With this featurette, we go behind the scenes with the show’s creative team. This is a roundtable discussion with the crew including producers Bruce Timm, James Tucker and others.
Deleted Scene (0:45; SD) – This is a scene that was changed from the episode, “Maid of Honor”. I’m glad they included it but it’s not a big change considering when you remove Bruce Timm’s intro, it’s only 35 seconds long.
BD-Live – Here you can take a look at trailers and other promotional material and featurettes for various Warner properties. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
And then there are excerpts from the “The Amazing Story of Superman” documentary released with the Superman Returns DVD and Blu-ray.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
“Justice League” Season Two is presented with a bright, colorful and wondrous 1080p high-definition and… yep, 1.78 widescreen! In my review for the first season, I was confused by the fact they released it in 1.33 full frame when the animators intended it to be in widescreen, so I was pleasantly surprised to see we finally get a proper transfer.
Now, in regards to the picture itself, it looks wonderful with a very crisp and clean video transfer with finely detailed lines and a good mesh of colors that aren’t oversaturated. Of course, given this is still a relatively recent animated series, I wouldn’t expect anything less. I can absolutely say it’s an upgrade over its DVD counterpart…
AUDIO – 4.0/5
Also an upgrade, after only providing standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks with their TV on BD releases, Warner is now offering up lossless DTS-HD MA tracks (this goes for all their upcoming releases of “Smallville” and “Big Bang Theory” as well). This one, while not fantastic, has a fair amount of depth with some use of the LFE channel while the other speakers, especially the center one, has clear dialogue levels and the front and rear channels show off the action sequences.
It should be noted that the season two DVD release (see review of the Complete Series here) only had a Dolby Stereo track so this is most certainly a very good upgrade.
OVERALL – 4.25/5
Overall, “Justice League” remains one of the best animated series ever made with some great action scenes intermixed with compelling stories and character development rarely seen in the genre. This season is probably the best but the remaining two, under the title “Justice League Unlimited” are still fantastic viewing. With regards to the Blu-ray I’m happy to report we finally got a proper widescreen transfer after the first season BD was full frame and even the DVD version was letterboxed. The features aren’t anything fantastic but are OK as time filler.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.