Justice League: Doom comes to US Region Free Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Animated features have the potential to look perfect on Blu-ray, perhaps more so than comes easily to live-action movies, but they also have the potential to turn out wrong. Doom isn’t the most disappointing entry in the series – far from it – but it’s also far from perfect. Line detail is generally very good, with each character rendered in crisp, solid fashion. The colour scheme boasts a broad array of stunningly vivid tones, boasting bright extremes and well-observed darker moments too, running up to and including the black levels, which remain fairly inky and well-resolved. Of course it’s far from all good news – the presentation also boasts hints of banding, a smattering of artifacting and even a little pixilation – but this merely prevents it from being a stunning, pristine rendition, rather than makes it a truly disappointing one.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is far easier to assess. With a load of bombastic material to promote, it’s a welcome relief that the accompanying mix serves up the action both loud and well-refined. Dialogue gets good prioritisation across the fronts and centre channels, coming across clearly and coherently throughout. Effects are myriad – right from the get-go there is plenty of oomph to the mix, which comes complete with gunfire, explosions and super-powered blasts that make excellent use of the surrounds and deliver thundering blows across your array. It’s all aided no end by an active LFE contribution which underpins every element of the piece and lends some weight to the proceedings. The suitably thematic score further provides the surrounds with something to do, and whilst the fairly restrained rear input keeps this track from reaching the heights of sheer perfection, it’s still a demo quality offering through and through.
Unsurprisingly this latest addition to the DCU Animated fold includes a plethora of worthy extras, including a Commentary, several Featurettes and some Previews. Perhaps the only marginal disappointment is that the extra Cartoons here – Bruce Timm’s Top Picks – include just a two-parter this time round, rather than the usual double double-bill. That said, this is made up for somewhat by rather unusually presenting the Top Picks in HD. Fans won’t be disappointed.
Audio Commentary is with DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and DC Entertainment Creative Director Mike Carlin who talk at length about the project right from inception, with regards to both its original comic format and also its animated variation, talking about some of their ideas about the adaptation, the changes to the characters and the subplots and streamlining which needed to be done. For fans of both the comic and the movie itself this is an informative and interesting accompaniment that’s worth a listen.
A League of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story is a fairly hefty 37-minute tribute to the late Justice League Unlimited writer/producer Dwayne McDuffie who wrote the screenplay for this animated adaptation of Mark Waid’s original Tower of Babel story just before he died. Fans of his work will appreciate the warm reflections on a life’s work, his passion and his enterprise and it’s nice to see this kind of accompaniment, particularly for his last major work.
Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA takes 20 minutes to look at the central story arc behind Doom and the psychology behind Batman’s view of his fellow teammates; his need to ‘police the police’ and his tense position within the ‘League. It’s another interesting accompaniment which perfectly fits in with the main feature.
Cyborg: His Time Has Come is a 6 minute addition which looks specifically at this new JLA addition, a prominent character change made with respect to this adaptation and a fairly different character from the rest of the super-powered classic heroes.
Bruce Timm’s Top Picks
Justice League Unlimited: Wild Cards is the only included episode on Bruce Timm’s list this time around, but it’s a great double-bill, and totally in-line with the main feature, not least because of the presence of the Wild Cards but also because of the Joker’s crazy plot to take down the league – and Las Vegas too. Once again Batman proves himself the smartest of the League members, holding them all together and also coming across as something of an unofficial team leader, and this is a great little accompanying extra ‘toon.
Sneak Peak: Superman vs. The Elite is a 7 minute look at the upcoming, also highly anticipated Superman comic adaptation which focuses on the Man of Steel’s battle against a group of high profile super-powered police who are prepared to cross the line, and use their powers to their fullest extent against foes, all in the name of justice. Whilst I’m desperately waiting for the upcoming The Dark Knight Returns, in terms of Superman adaptations, this one looks pretty sweet.
DC Digital Comic Book – JLA: Tower of Babel offers up the first few pages of this comic book, so that you can directly compare the two versions, although it’s a bit of a shame that there isn’t more featured here (like the whole thing!).
It never ceases to amaze me just how great a character Batman is. He may not have superpowers like the rest of them, but he more than makes up for it with wits, self-trained skills and sheer intelligence. Indeed, if this Dark Knight were to go to the dark side, then the Justice League would likely be facing their deadliest enemy, the only person who could probably successfully end them. The DC comic hit Tower of Babel, here adapted into Justice League: Doom, represents the closest we’ll (hopefully) ever get to Batman turning against his JLA colleagues, a very clever story which hits each individual team member where it hurts and reminds us how Batman – a mere mortal – got his prominent position amidst the super-powered ‘League in the first place. It’s the best of the DCU Animated adaptations thus far, a superb tale which – for fans of Batman and his DC cohorts – should be regarded as unmissible.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get solid video, excellent audio and a great selection of extras. Fans should consider this a must-have purchase, whilst newcomers who like their superhero tales to be not just bold and action-packed, but also full of clever ideas and character twists, should consider this a top choice. Recommended.
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