Justice League: Warworld

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/25/23;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some bloody violence.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Darren Criss, Stana Katic, Ike Amadi, Troy Baker, Matt Bomer, Roger R. Cross, Brett Dalton, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, Frank Grillo, Rachel Kimsey, Damian O’Hare, Teddy Sears.

The latest DC animated movie strays a bit from the typical superhero formula but should please fans of the classic trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

The film begins with a bit of an Elseworlds vibe, thrusting audiences into a Wild West adventure with Wonder Woman as a mysterious stranger riding into town to take on the unscrupulous Jonah Hex (which at first blush raises the question of if the filmmakers were doing “Warworld” or “Westworld”). Then, we are presented with Batman transformed into a Conan the Barbarian-type of character in the middle of a power struggle in a swords-and-sorcery setting. From there, the story shifts to a black-and-white 1950s-style ‘B’ movie about an alien invasion, with Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Diana cast as government agents sent to stop it.

The movie seems more invested in these vignettes than whatever story might be suggested by the film’s title. In the comics, War World is an intergalactic gladiatorial arena, a concept that has become something of a cliché in superhero movies by now. The film reimagines War World to suit its needs, but it still takes about an hour before letting the audience in on what might be going on with regards to why these heroes are in the situation they’re in. At nearly 90 minutes, Warworld is still one of the longest standalone movies in the DC animated canon, and it puts that extended time to good use with an action-packed climactic battle. On the other hand, as fun as it is to see many of the characters put into the situations they are in, the film ultimately feels more like a mashup of various ideas the filmmakers were interested in seeing on screen that weren’t a good fit anywhere else, strung together with a plot developed just enough to justify its existence before setting up the next movie with an abrupt cliffhanger ending that literally flies in out of nowhere.

The Blu-ray includes two featurettes that run just under eight minutes each. “Illusions on Warworld” explores the alternate reality scenarios presented in the film, while “The Heroic, the Horrible and the Hideous” focuses on the characters involved.

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Superman: Man of Tomorrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/8/20;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, some bloody images, suggestive material, language, smoking and brief partial nudity.
Voices of Darren Criss, Alexandra Daddario, Zachary Quinto, Ike Amadi, Ryan Hurst, Brett Dalton, Neil Flynn, Bellamy Young, Eugene Byrd.

The latest DC Comics animated movie takes a look at young Clark Kent’s early days as Superman as a fresh-faced potential journalist newly arrived in Metropolis.

This version of Clark, while aware of his powers, has no clue about his Kryptonian origins. He begins attracting the attention of the press through a series of heroic deeds, though he has yet to be branded Superman or even don his iconic costume (though his reasons for needing the costume provide one of the film’s biggest laughs)..

However, his exploits also get noticed by the notorious intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo, who comes to Earth looking for a fight. Though Clark finds an ally in the mysterious Martian Manhunter, his battle with Lobo ends up unleashing a deadly creature known as Parasite, who grows stronger by absorbing energy and draining the life force of his victims.

To stop Parasite’s rampage, Clark (voiced by Darren Criss) must enlist the help of Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto), a man destined to one day become his sworn enemy. But this story occurs before all those pieces fall into place.

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The movie also gives some attention to the young Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario), a recent graduate looking to establish herself as the top reporter at the Daily Planet, where Clark has been working as an intern bringing everyone their coffee.

The film does a nice job of establishing Clark’s eagerness to fit in. He knows he’s an alien, but isn’t sure from where or who else knows, so he knows his heroic excursions come with an element of risk. In fact, one of the big motifs of the film is finding the humanity in beings who otherwise aren’t human, particularly as Superman tries to re-connect with the man Parasite used to be.

Man of Tomorrow, the 40th entry in the DC Universe series of animated superhero movies, is a standalone film, not connected to the brand’s recent string of interconnected movies, though it could very well prove a good jumping off point for a new continuity.

The animation is crisp and lively, and the colors pop in high-definition. The filmmakers have crafted some exciting action sequences, including the initial all-out brawl between young Clark Kent and Lobo. The third-act battle against Parasite takes on much of the flavor of a typical “Godzilla” movie, but for the most part this is a pretty entertaining Superman adventure. Fans of Lobo should get a kick out of finally seeing him in action in one of these DC movies.

The Blu-ray includes two Lobo-centric episodes from “Superman: The Animated Series,” plus a 10-minute featurette on the history and popularity of Lobo.

There’s also a nine-minute featurette about the legacy of the Martian Manhunter.

Rounding out the extras are a trailer, featurettes for earlier DC animated movies, and a 12-minute preview of the next animated DC movie, a kung-fu-style Batman adventure set in the 1970s.