JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (DVD)

When are we getting a Justice League Antarctica movie?

It’s the final battle between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom, led by Lex Luthor (Fred Tatasciore, Son of Batman). The league wins, but at a cost, as it appears that Luthor died in the battle. Cut to the distant future, where it’s revealed that Luthor was actually frozen in suspended animation. Wannabe future heroes Dawnstar (Laura Bailey, Winx Club) and Karate Kid (Dante Basco, Avatar: The Last Airbender) accidentally set Luthor free. Luthor teams with the mysterious Time Trapper (Corey Burton, Ben 10 Omniverse) to travel into the past with a plan to erase Superman (Peter Jessop, Dante’s Inferno) from existence.

I’ve really no idea where this movie comes from. Rather than a stand-alone animated feature, which is what we’re used to getting from DC/Warner Bros. animation, this 52-minute flick looks like a TV pilot, especially with its sets-up-part-two ending. The tone is light and comedic, similar to Cartoon Network’s jokey Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This is obviously highlighted by having Diedrich Bader (Napoleon Dynamite) reprise his role as an upbeat, peppy Batman.

Despite “JLA” in the title and Superman prominent to the plot, the Justice Leaguers are supporting characters in their own movie. The story’s protagonists are Dawnstar and Karate Kid of the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes. We follow them for most of the story, and they’re the only ones with any kind of arc. It’s because of them that the timeline is messed up, so it’s up to them to set things right. Karate Kid is depicted as rash and impulsive, so he must learn to think before acting. The stalwart Dawnstar finds her idealistic principles tested during her adventures. The actual JLA show up just to make wisecracks and punch things.

No matter how tightly plotted, any time travel story is going to have some sort of paradox the writers can’t get around. This movie, though, raises way too many time travel questions it doesn’t answer. If Superman is erased from history, how is Bizarro still flying around? If there’s no Justice League, would the Legion of Evil still have a need to exist? For that matter, shouldn’t the Earth be destroyed several times over without all the times the Justice League was there to save it? The writers don’t bother with any of this. It’s just “There’s no Superman in this timeline, so we can commit all the crimes we want,” and we’re supposed to sit and accept that. When ol’ Red Boots reappears in time for the big finale, it feels abrupt, and viewers will think, “He’s back, just like that?”

But I’m overthinking things. This movie’s strictly for the age eight and under crowd. The comedy is simplistic—big, broad and slapsticky. Robin (Jack DeSena, Dorm Life) is especially obnoxious, and viewers will wonder why Batty Boy puts up with him. Other than Lex, most members of the Legion of Doom, such as Bizarro, Toyman, and Solomon Grundy, are portrayed as buffoons. Similarly, Ma and Pa Kent are shown to incredible idiots during their one scene, which might rub fans the wrong way. On the plus side, some of the fight choreography is nicely animated, but interrupted too often by more stale jokes. Superhero fans will enjoy the occasional reference to the comics, as well as several shout-outs to the old Super Friends cartoons.

As expected for a recently-made ‘toon, even a lower-budgeted one, the standard def 1.85:1 widescreen image and Dolby 5.1 Surround track are perfectly clean and clear. For bonus features, we get two episodes of Super Friends, to further demonstrate the creators’ intent with this project.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time is fine for kids who are too young for the intensity of The Dark Knight or the extreme mega-violence of Man of Steel. Serious comic book fans will walk away wanting more.


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