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Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 4/16/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/18/2019
You don’t have to be a Roger Ebert-type movie expert to know that super hero films have ruled the box office for many years now. And while the familiar Spider-Man and Batman characters have been on display, we’ve also seen some more obscure comic book entities make their way to the big screen. Characters like Ant-Man, Shazam, and Captain Marvel aren’t exactly household names, and yet, their movies were hits. And who would have expected Black Panther to become such a cinematic force. And yet, it can still be surprising when 2nd (or lower) tier heroes pop up in a movie. This is certainly the case with DC’s animated Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five.
In the 31st Century, three villains – Tharok (voiced by Peter Jessop), Mano (voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez), and The Persuader (voiced by Matthew Yang King) – use a time machine to elude the authorities, unaware that Starboy (voiced by Elyes Gabel) is in pursuit. The scene then shifts to modern-day Earth. Mr. Terrific (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) is studying the orb-like time machine, but can’t figure it out, and even Superman’s (voiced by George Newbern) x-ray vision can’t penetrate it. Meanwhile, Jessica Cruz (voiced by Diane Guerrero) AKA Green Lantern is dealing with anxiety which keeps her from embracing her role as a hero, despite the support of Wonder Woman (voiced by Susan Eisenberg). Similarly, Miss Martian (voiced by Daniela Bobadilla) is looking to Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) to mentor her, as she wants to join the Justice League. All of these things will be put to the side when the three bad guys from the future escape from their orb and begin to wreak havoc on Earth.
DC and Warner have never been shy about bringing lesser-known characters into their animated films and they have gone nuts with that idea here. These individuals may be familiar to die-hard DC Comics fans, but for the average viewer, this will be their introduction. Miss Martian appears to have the same powers as the better-known Martian Manhunter. Mr. Terrific is a more modern character (having debuted in 1997) who reminded me of Cyborg. The other new faces here come from the pages of Legion of Super Heroes, a comic which has been around for decades, but as its stories take place in the 31st Century, these characters most likely don’t have a lot of opportunities to interact with DC’s more popular heroes. (I recognized the Legion of Super Heroes emblem on Starboy’s ring and realized that I had seen these comics in the past.)
While these new characters aren’t necessarily original (Mano kind of looks like the “Spooky Space Kook” from Scooby-Doo), the inclusion of someone other than the usual gallery of DC villains does give Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five a certain novelty. Actually, the most refreshing thing here is Starboy. With him, we have a powerful super-hero (from the future no less), but due to a mental condition (which is never fully explained) he has trouble remembering why he came to Earth or what his mission is. Feeling like an outsider, he bonds with Jessica Cruz and, to a lesser extent, Miss Martian, as he struggles to prove to the Justice League that he is a worthy hero. This aspect of the story, combined with the might of the Fatal Five keeps this movie interesting throughout.
And while these aspects make Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five one of the better DC animated films in recent memory, the real surprise comes in the emotional power of the ending. Maybe it was because I was watching it in the wee hours of the morning, but I found the finale to be moving. This just goes to show that comic book storytelling can have an impact. There have been a lot of animated Justice League movies, and this ranks at the top, right along side Doom. Again, most viewers won’t be familiar with many of the second-tier characters here, but the new faces, along with the somewhat serious tone, help to make this a successful entry into the series.
Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five could have used more Batman on 4K UHD courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at 70 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and on defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The HD transfer does reveal some of the less-detailed segments of the animation, but the crisp nature of the image rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences deliver detailed surround sound effects, along with some strong subwoofer. There are several moments where the stereo channels deliver noticeable sounds coming from off-screen. The voice-acting never sounds canned.
The extra features for Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five are found on the Blu-ray Disc included here. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Producer Jim Krieg, Director Sam Liu, and Writer Eric Carrasco. “Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five: Unity of Hero” (15 minutes) focuses on the diversity of comic book characters and the inclusion of different genders and various ethnicities. The discussion takes an academic approach to this subject, while incorporating examples from the DC Comics universe. “Battling the Invisible Menace” (8 minutes) examines the depiction of mental illness in the movie, which adds a much-needed elements of humanity to the characters. We get bonus TV episodes from Legion of Super Heroes and Justice League Unlimited.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long