Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Review: An Underwater Epic

There are very few guarantees in life—you can be sure there will be death, taxes and a wild ride whenever you pop in a DC animated film.

DC’s latest adventure, “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” once again will make one bang their head against the wall in frustration that the live action films have not fully tapped into the potential of DC’s rich stable of characters. It does not quite hit the action highs of “Justice League: War” or tug on the heart-strings like “Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox,” but “Throne of Atlantis” has enough key moments and DC love marks that it will scratch that endless itch for these films.

As teased at the end of “War,” “Throne of Atlantis” is the introduction of the lost ancient city of Atlantis to this DC animated universe. After Cyborg uncovers what seems to be an incredible threat to the surface world deep in the sea, he must assemble the recently formed Justice League—but this is not an easy task. Outside of Shazam and the Flash, each member seems to be caught up in their own life. Superman and Wonder Woman are now together as they bond through their outsider feel in this mortal world, Batman is busy cleaning up the streets of Gotham, Green Lantern is happy picking up chick until Flash runs that out.

As the band gets back together there is a Shakespearean conflict brewing in the sea. Orm and Black Manta are executing a plot to force the queen, Orm’s mother Queen Atlanna, to declare war on the surface world. Orm has kind of a bone to pick with them because his father was killed in the invasion of Darkseid in the last film. Atlanna only seeks peace but realizes that tensions are rising and that only her son Arthur Curry, who is both Atlantean and human, can bring peace to Atlantis.

Curry, casually going through the world after the death of his father, must accept his heritage to stop his half-brother Orm. With the help of the League, Curry has to save his people from the threat of war and Orm’s violent jealousy becoming Aquaman in the process.

As stated earlier, “Throne of Atlantis” does not have the kick the last two Justice League outings—but it still kicks like a mule. It is just amazing how in such a short 75 minute runtime, Director Ethan Spaulding and writer Heath Corson are able to sprinkle in key character moments that give just enough insight into what is each member of the league is going through. The scenes between Wonder Woman and Superman show just that, with their dates exchanging ideas on how to navigate a world where they are the strongest beings around.

One staple of these animated films is the action, but because most of the film is set underwater, it weighs them down—it is still awesome seeing Black Manta kicking ass as the good lord intended. It being an Aquaman story, the action is mainly told through his eyes and the fact he is just getting acquainted with his powers we don’t get to see him reach his potential.

The voice cast is essentially the same from “War,” the newest edition is Matt Lanter as Aquaman. Lanter, who previously played Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” captures the lost in world nature of Curry while bringing the confidence of a king towards the end of the story. Sam Witwer, also from the Star Wars universe, he being the star of the “Star Wars: Force Unleashed” video games, plays Orm. The built up frustration and jealousy of Orm can be heard in Witwer’s voice making his descent into total madness believable.

Great voice talent is almost a sure thing when Andrea Romano is the voice director, special features is not when it comes to these releases. A sneak peek of the next movie and a short documentary are givens with these flicks—the fact that the next movie is “Batman vs. Robin” and the documentary highlights Aquaman’s highly underrated villains make this a buy and not a rental. The Blu Ray also packs a couple of cartoon episodes from the DC vault, which isn’t anything particularly special, that is if they did not include an episode from the old Aquaman cartoon that’ll make the younger ones watching think “Hey, this is a Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy rip-off.”

“Justice League: Throne of Atlantis” is not mediocre or bad by any stretch of the imagination, we just have all been spoiled by the excellence of earlier films. “Throne of Atlantis” works perfectly as a reintroduction of Aquaman taking him from the perennial butt of every joke in “Family Guy” or “Robot Chicken” to the undisputed king of the sea. “Throne of Atlantis” highlights the creative forces behind these films ability to adapt storylines giving them their own little touch and cements them on the seat of the throne when it comes to direct-to-video comic book adventures.

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