Ever since Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox debuted a few years ago, every animated DC movie has been a part of the same shared New 52 Universe (with the notable exception of last year’s Batman: Assault on Arkham) and every single movie since then has been okay at best (with the notable exception of last year’s Batman: Assault on Arkham which was fantastic). So with that in mind, does Throne of Atlantis finally break the mold with Aquaman and give us a great movie, or does it flounder like so many of the others? I will say, this movie was better than Justice League: War and way better than Son of Batman, but these movies still have a ways to go before they can actually be considered good.
The one thing that Warner Bros. Animation is consistently great at is the actual animation. It is fluid, fast, and just downright looks pretty. There are some great character designs in here and this one truly epic trench monster that was begging for way more screen time. Technically, this movie is just fantastic. The soundtrack perfectly conveyed emotions without overwhelming you and drawing attention away from the events of the movie. For the most part, the voice acting was pretty decent for the most part. It is always nice to see Nathan FIllion play Green Lantern, even though he really didn’t have much to do here. Sam Witwer and Harry Lennix did what they could for Ocean Master and Black Manta, but it was the script that got in their way. Overall, like I said, the actual technical work done here is impressive.
As with all DC animated movies, the Blu-ray version of the movie filled to the brim with extras. There is, of course, the DC Vault which has a few episodes from old cartoon shows, my favorite of which are the two episodes from the 60’s Aquaman cartoon. There is also a little outtake from the movie which basically just plugged the next DC movie and two pretty interesting documentaries. The first one is about crafting the movies soundtrack and the second is a really great documentary about the complexities of Ocean Master and Black Manta, which is incredibly ironic because the actual movie showed absolutely nothing of these complexities.
The biggest problem that Throne of Atlantis has is that it is trying to do way too much in way too short of a time. This movie has to establish Atlantis, give us an origin for Aquaman, reunite the Justice League that barely talks to each other, and establish a credible threat actually worth of the Justice League. That is just way too much stuff for 70 minutes and things get lost in the shuffle. The main victims here are the villains. Orm and Black Manta are criminally underdeveloped to the point where it just seems like they are being just because they like being evil, and I really don’t think that is what the makers were going for. In the book that this movie is adapted from, the war between the surface and Atlantis was one huge political misunderstanding with only one adviser being the real evil one. Orm truly cared about his people in that story. Here, he is just a arrogant jerk that care only for power and actively betrays Atlantis more that once. There is one line towards the end of the movie where Black Manta does try to take credit for starting the war. I guess this was designed to give a little more meaning to the events going on, but by that time it is already too late and you will be more worried about the fact that he drops an s-bomb than what he actually said.
This brings me to my next complaint. I know these movies are PG-13 and the they are trying to appeal to adults, but do we really need all of this excessive violence and profanity. Don’t get me wrong, Spartacus is one of my favorite shows of all time so I love excessive violence and profanity, but not in my DC superhero cartoon movies. I mean Mera on her own has a kill count of at least thirty people/ creatures in this movie, and the ones she doesn’t kill are dismembered or maimed in some way. There was one instance where she literally cut about five fish people in half at the same time with her hard water constructs. That would have me jumping for joy if I was watching some R rated cheesy action movie or a horror movie, but I am watching a superhero movie and I’m pretty sure decapitation is a no no when it comes to these sort of things. By trying to be cool and edgy, all that is really accomplished by the violence and the profanity is some massive head scratching. Like I said earlier, Black Manta offers up a line towards the end of the movie that should have put everything together with the plot, but everyone I watched this movie with completely missed it because they were too concerned about the s-bomb.
At the end of the day, I would say Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is at least fun to watch. It does have some great action scenes and some beautiful animation. Unfortunately, this movie also has a very underdeveloped plot and villains which makes it really hard to get invested in what is going on. The uber-violence of these movies is also getting very distracting.