Saturday, January 17, 2015

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis was released On Demand this week, and while the Shrine had originally planned to wait for the DVD release on the 26th, I bailed on that plan the minute the thing actually became available.


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Before we proceed any further, be advised that there are no spoilers here. In fact, we're not going to get into the plot at all. 

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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, directed by Ethan Spaulding, written by Heath Corson, and starring Matt Lanter as Aquaman and Sumalee Montano as Mera, tells its own unique version of the story we all know. Everyone from the comics story is here (except for one member of the Aqua-Family), but the players have all been rearranged into a unique continuity. As much as I enjoyed the "Throne of Atlantis" storyline, it was exciting knowing this movie could pretty much go anywhere and do anything, not being tied to the source material.

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Matt Lanter does a fine job as the voice of Aquaman, handling some tricky character shifts that are endemic when you're trying to tell a story this big in such a small space (Throne of Atlantis runs a scant 72 minutes). Harry Lennix as Black Manta gets a solid laugh line (how many times do you get to say that), with Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern getting the lion's share of the gags. The delightful Sirena Irwin, who played Mera on Batman: Brave and the Bold, returns to the Aqua-fold, this time Aquaman's mother Atlanna.

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There have been some complaints from reviewers already that Aquaman does not get enough to do in Throne of Atlantis. And while the action beats are a bit more evenly distributed here than in the comics, I figured that was going to happen going in, since the title of the movie was Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, not Aquaman: Throne of AtlantisAnd while of course I would have loved to have seen Aquaman wall to wall, the story is still very much about him and his world. If anything, Mera takes a larger role, making for fine moments between DC Comics' preeminent power couple.

After starting out in his typical Angry Young Man persona, screenwriter Corson manages to lighten things up by getting Aquaman to accept his royal destiny and managing to have some fun with it. Balance that with some solid fight scenes between the Sea King and Ocean Master, Black Manta, and The Trench, Throne of Atlantis just whetted my appetite for a full-on Aquaman animated movie!

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After being almost completely ignored in DC's animated movie efforts, it's wonderful to see Aquaman and his supporting cast take center stage in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. He deserves it, and this is his chance to show his corporate overlords that he can carry a movie and people will like it and, just as importantly, buy it. So if you're an Aquaman fan (and I assume you are, why else are you here?), go out and purchase the movie On Demand or pick up a hard copy on the 26th. That's the only way we'll see more animated Aquaman!



24 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Sounds quite positive! I am excited!

Anonymous said...

As a longtime Aquaman fan who loved the comics, I can say without doubt that this movie totally brutalized and manhandled the source material.
The characters of Orm, Manta and Shin got totally annihilated and have nothing in common with the comics. Especially Orm who is now Loki, only whinier.
Mera is basically Tula with hard water powers.
And Aquaman gets turned to that Brad Pitt cameo in True romance where he just sits and mops without any character whatsoever.

Also the fact that they took Aquaman's most iconic moments from the New 52 and gave them to other characters is unforgivable.
For example Superman has the fight with the Trench Queen and NOT AQUAMAN. Poor Aquaman just sits there and needs help from Superman UNDERWATER! Superman was not even in the friggin storyline and they give him the boss fight??
Not to mention that Aquaman unlike the comics needs the help of Cyborg and Batman in order to distract Orm. Aquaman only beats Orm by suckerpunching him. WHAT BS!

I'm sorry but this "film" was a HUGE MIDDLE FINGER to any fans of Aquaman and ToA which is no surprise since this atrocity and the abomination that was JL War had the same "writer".

To sum up this movie shoehorned 20+ issues of Aquaman and JL comics in a 72 minute clipshow that feels like a summary and not an actual movie. And the writer $hits all over Aquaman for the duration of the film. He doesn't even get to fight Superman, WW and Batman but it's OK because we get more than 5 minutes of Aquaman talking to a lobster in a bar. Way more important.

PS they didn't even get the opening credits right. The opening credits have images from JL Origin and not a single peace of artwork from ToA.

I'm shocked by the review on this site. This was a travesty and made me fearful of DC's animated future.

PyroDark said...

^This.

Anonymous said...

Also the writer deserves zero credit for this, but possibly all the blame.

Aquaman goes from being a random dude to an underwater Jedi INSTANTLY and WITHOUT EXPLANATION.
The moment Aquaman picks up a spear he is friggin OBERYN MARTELL. Without any explanation. The writer brutalized the Aquaman mythos for 72 minutes. That's what this film is.

Another example. Tula (Which is Tula in Mera's body) spouts out one of the worst and most forced lines of dialogue in the entire DC cinematic universe, when in one scene WITHOUT Aquaman doing ANYTHING TO EARN IT she suddenly declares "You are indeed a great leader" or some BS like that. In the comics sure AQ is the warrior leader of a nation's military. But here? As fast as he puts on a pale spandex imitation of the true Aquaman suit he is suddenly a leader (and Atlanteans instantly follow this bum). WAIT WHAT?

All in all the more someone thinks about this horrible murder of all things Aquaman, the worse this "film" gets.

Aquaman is my favorite character and this cr@p is the worst thing I have seen Aquaman be a part off, including the Superfriends and that storyline in JLA Classified where he is totally mocked by the writer.

Anonymous said...

I'll let this reviewer explain what I saw.

Justice League Throne of Atlantis Animated Film REVIEW (Pissed off Aquaman fanboy)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jbZZWq5W0M

Joe said...

Wow.the commenter above must not be familiar with the spirit of the Shrine. I think Rob did an excellent job as always of celebrating the character of Aquaman and validating those fans who would enjoy him being featured in ToA.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Armin, the one who posted the video link, but the 2 other posts are mine.
And I've been a fan of the Shrine for many years, podcasts and all, and I get Rob's position but as an Aquaman fan this movie was insulting.
An average JL movie but a terrible Aquaman movie.

rob! said...

While I generally do not feel compelled to defend the Shrine's manner of support of Aquaman--I like to think eight straight years of daily promotion is proof enough--I will comment on the angle I took for this review.

Over the years and having done dozens of interviews with the creative people involved, it's quite clear that the level of corporate involvement in these projects--a movie, a cartoon, a comic book--is massive. Obviously, I would have preferred that this movie feature Aquaman and just Aquaman, and not feel the need to feature the JLA at all. But that was never going to happen, the people who run Warner Bros. were simply never going to allow it.

Knowing that, it makes "sense" that many of the moments Aquaman got in the TOA comics have been handed off to others for the movie, because, like it or not, it's Superman, Batman, and (to a lesser extent) Wonder Woman, Flash, and GL who sell these things. Warner Bros. would never spend the money to produce and market a movie where their marquee characters stand around while Aquaman does everything.

From the comforting buffer of internet anonymity, it's easy to rip this person or that person on their work. But these are real people just trying to do their best work, and while maybe some of them end up not doing a great job, the Shrine's attitude has always been to celebrate what it likes, and ignore the rest. This is a BLOG ABOUT AQUAMAN for Neptune's Sake, nothing we're doing here is worth insulting someone.

And even if I thought TOA was lousy--which I do not--I would still tell Aqua-Fans to buy it, because that's the only language corporations like Warner Bros. speak. if people don't buy this because it doesn't present Aquaman as well as it could, they will NEVER greenlight another Aquaman-centric animated movie. The best strategy is to make this a big hit, so they see that Aquaman has a lot of support, and then perhaps they'll consider giving him a truly solo movie. But characters like Aquaman don't get a lot of chances to fail. If an animated Batman movie bombs, Warners will shrug it shoulders and move on to the next Batman animated movie, because he's BATMAN. Aquaman doesn't have that kind of room.

I understand the argument that none of this behind the scenes stuff matters, it's okay to judge the actual product Warner Bros. is asking people to pay for--namely, the movie. And that's a fair way of looking at it. But my view has always been to, first and foremost, promote the character of Aquaman, because being negative doesn't really accomplish much. And that's what I did here, and will continue to do as long as the Shrine is around.

Caffeinated Joe said...

^This

Anonymous said...

Point taken and that's why I said on my second post that I understand your position.
The Shrine has indeed always shown a positive attitude since any negativity would hurt the Aquaman brand, which unlike Superman or Bats doesn't have the luxury of potential failure.

I still hate this movie, but point taken.
Although I'll say this if you ever get the chance to review the writer, please let him know that he can do better. Much better.

BatFan said...

Wow. Not that I was lacking any, but my respect for rob! went way up. Well constructed argument without becoming over emotional. Your argument comes off coherent and intelligent. While the movie may not be good, it's true that we should support Aquaman. Why else would we visit this site if we weren't so discontent with the lack of Aquaman exposure.

rob! said...

Thanks BatFan.

Re: Anon--not to beat this particular dead seahorse, but I still think you're missing a point I was trying to make.

You're making the assumption that the writer--in this case Heath Corson, who have I met and is a good guy and supporter of the Shrine--simply wrote his script, and WB handed if off to the animators and just said "Go make this."

I'm betting that this movie, like all other projects of this size, are endlessly revised and changed by the corporate structure that's in place. There were probably hundreds of WB flunkies who had their whack at it, so it's not safe to lay whatever blame might be appropriate on the writer, and the writer alone.

For years, almost two decades, I was furious at Gerry Conway because I thought he really crapped on Aquaman when he wrote him during the JLA Detroit years. Then when I interviewed Gerry in 2007 or so he told me that it was NOT his decision to dump Aquaman from the JLA book so abruptly, it was forced on him by the DC editors. So all those years where I assumed it was his fault I WAS JUST PLAIN WRONG. And if I had gone around saying unkind things about Conway during those years, he'd would have thought I was a real jerk. And he'd would have been right.

Are there things about TOA I don't like? You bet. And undoubtedly some of the stuff I don't like is the work of Mr. Corson. But since I can't be sure, I'm not going to publicly rip the guy a new one, because I could be deeply misinformed. And then all I've done is make myself look like a moron for commenting on things I know nothing about, and insulting someone who has been nothing but nice to me to boot.

c´żśnical said...

Good stuff, Rob! I preordered the blu ray, sight unseen, for two main reasons: 1) The cool Best Buy exclusive Aquaman action figure it comes with, and 2) Because it's Aquaman.

It sounds like a defeated stance to take, but we're incredibly lucky to be getting an Aquaman centric animated film at all (AND an upcoming live action film!!). Who knows? If we support it, maybe the handcuffs will eventually come off the creative teams.

Anonymous said...

greetings to all I am aqua -fan 100 % and I live in Caracas , which I thank the movie is ( spoiler ) aquaman finally enters the Justice League ! we will see Arthur in the future Dc Original Movies

Joe said...

We sometimes in our passion for these characters forget that it truly is all about business. I was outraged and heartbroken when Geoff Johns left Aquaman after #25. He gave Green Lantern nearly a decade, why did the Sea King only get 2 years? Later on I found out the decision was not jeff to make. DC simply could not bear that Superman's own title had become irrelevant and was selling less units then Aquaman at the time. In the hierarchy of priority characters at DC, the Trinity will always win and thus you have GJ and JRJ on Superman (at least thru #40 that is).

Anonymous said...

Clarification of the point also taken. I apologize if my language or criticism was to much and after your second point I agree I have to give the writer or anyone else involved the benefit of the doubt.

Still I think it was a bad movie of course.

Personal opinion aside though, the pacing of the film was very bad which has to do with the duration no doubt.
And I know this is due to less costs if the feature is less than 80 mins or smthing.

Anyway point taken as I said in the start and apologies of course.

Aaron Moss said...

While not the greatest movie, I enjoyed this movie (and so did my wife, while she likes superheroes, she's not in to it like I am).

Part of my enjoyment of this movie may be that I'm not a big Aquaman fan (I like him, but Firestorm and The Atom are wayyyyy better (IMHO)).

I plan on getting this movie (I checked it online as I didn't want to wait another week (that and I'll be busy at the end of the month with my 4th child being born (a boy named Grayson Moss (yeah, after Dick Grayson))).

But as it was ending I had to come check the Shrine to gets Rob's opinion on it (as I love listening to him and Shag on the Fire and Water podcast).

And while I did enjoy the movie, I do agree that Aquaman should have had a bigger part (especially with defeating Orm).
Also, as someone else said, at first I wasn't sure if Mera was Mera or Tula (until Alanta said her name).

But as Rob said, it is a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, not an Aquaman solo movie. And also as Rob said, people (in general) aren't going to see Aquaman. They're paying for Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (and GL and Flash to a smaller extent).

So I understand the changes and the reasons certain things were done.... But I still wish Arthur had a bigger role in the outcome (course, I also wish he was in the last movie (War) and founding of the League... but again, I understand the decision and corporate concerns).

Anywho.... that's my thoughts... I'll let you all go back to your dislike of it while I sit here and wait for the FIRESTORM animated movie... *sigh, I know, it's not on the horizon*

Anyways... until next time, Ride the Wave (and the Red-Head).

rob! said...

Anon-

No need to apologize. Vigorous debate is a wonderful thing and if you genuinely didn't like TOA, that's totally your call. I just wanted to explain where I am coming from as someone who runs a blog people might turn to for a review of a piece of media. I'm not interested in forcing anyone to like something they think isn't good, so having a heated debate is cool, as long as it never degenerates into name calling. So it's all good.

Anonymous said...

I'm relieved to hear that.
Hopefully my next post will be praising someone for the job he has done with the character and not the opposite.

Cheers and keep up the good work. Both of you (sorta became a Firestorm fan also due to the podcasts).

Darrin Sutherland said...

I wanted to love this movie, and I expected to love this movie, but I definitely did not love this movie. Aquaman has generally been treated badly in animation since the days of the Super Friends and it looks like that trend will continue.

The source material for this movie was the best Justice League storyline in more years than I can count yet it managed to turn the excellent comic series into a truly underwhelming, mediocre, and mundane movie.

Once again, the world of animation shows they don’t think Aquaman can do anything other than talk to fish. This is established from the opening scene with Arthur talking to a lobster and continues throughout the movie. Aquaman seems incapable of defeating anyone or getting out of any scrape without calling for help from his finny friends.

I thought the movie was going to surprise us near then end when Orm defeated most of the members of Justice League in turn. I thought the movie was going to have Aquaman take down Orm and show he could defeat an enemy the other members could not. However, in the end Orm completely overpowered Aquaman until Cyborg distracted Orm with his video confession allowing Aquaman to get in a “sucker punch” at the end. Hardly heroic.

Beyond his heroic strengths … or lack thereof, Arthur the man is treated nearly as badly as Aquaman. He spends the entire first third of the movie either drunk or hungover. That is a terrible introduction to the character, especially given the excellent introduction of Aquaman in the New 52 comics that the animation team had to work with.

I didn’t watch Justice League: War. I was too upset over Aquaman being left out as a founding member of the Justice League once again only to be replaced by Shazam the way he was replaced by Hawkgirl in the animated television series. So, this was my first exposure to the rest of the new animated Justice League and I must say several of them are treated as badly as Aquaman.

Shazam and Green Lantern are particularly irritating. Every time they were on screen I cringed at the dialogue and the action. This completely surprised me since I’m a fan of Sean Astin from The Lord of the Rings and Nathan Fillion from Firefly and Castle. So, it wasn’t just Aquaman, this animation team managed to make most of these iconic characters bland, uninteresting, and even cringe-worthy.

In this movie we get Ocean Master, Black Manta, and the Trench. It seemed as though the producers threw in villain after villain to avoid having to spend any more time with Aquaman than was necessary. Used in this way, the Trench is neither mysterious nor scary. They are merely another army for Orm thus wasting the potential of a great movie with them in the future.

And, why does everyone in the movie know more about Atlantis than Arthur? Apparently his father never talked to him when he grew up.

I liked the brief introduction of Dr. Shin and Dr. Evans and hoped that was setting up a storyline for a future movie, but again that was wasted as Dr. Shin was quickly dispatched.

So, did the movie get anything right? I will say that I thought Mera was treated quite well in the movie. She was more powerful and more levelheaded than Aquaman or most any other member of the Justice League for that matter. When the invitation to join was extended to Aquaman at the end, I couldn’t understand why the League didn’t invite Mera to join instead of him. Judging from this movie alone, she is stronger and smarter than most of them. At the same time, I was completely disappointed that Mera was from Atlantis in this movie obviously throwing out other potential stories involving Xebel in the future and eliminating the great “outsider” elements of both Aquaman’s and Mera’s storylines.

I wish that Geoff Johns had written the script for the movie because I think it could have been great in the right hands. Sadly, it is too late now.

I was planning to post positive reviews of the movie on every site that I could to encourage people to buy the movie, but now I feel that if I did I would be misleading those people :-(

Hanniel I said...

Mera was practically Tula :P

Joe said...

I just finished watching the movie and I don't believe it's a very good movie. I respect the Shrine's general positive outlook but there's nothing wrong with being critical and personally I'd like to see more genuine opinion here.

I spend a lot of money on Aquaman. A lot a lot. But actually buying this movie when it releases is going to be a hard sell, even if I really appreciate that Warners gave Aquaman a chance.

Joe said...

And to add to that, I think we can support the film without necessarily buying it. There's an entire line of figures coming out we can put our dollar behind too.

Lucien Desar said...

I am just happy that they MADE A MOVIE ABOUT AQUAMAN ! Would we have that 10 years ago? We are in an Aquaman renaissance . Great spoiler-free post Rob. I am waiting to see it on Blu-Ray in super HD and then watch the extras while eating some fish sticks.

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