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JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time

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JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Format: Available on DVD
Home Video Release Date: January 21st, 2014 as Target-exclusive; May 20th, 2014 wide release

Synopsis: Get ready for a battle of the ages when the Justice League faces off against its archenemies, the Legion of Doom, in an all-new movie from DC Comics. A mysterious being known as the Time Trapper arises, and a sinister plan led by Lex Luthor sends the Legion of Doom back in time to eliminate Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman before they become super heroes. For Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg, along with teen super heroes Karate Kid and Dawnstar, the stakes have never been higher, the rescue mission never deadlier. So join the fight for the future as the Justice League confronts its ultimate challenge - the threat of having never existed!

Special Features:
-From the DC Comics Vault - 2 Bonus Cartoons

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JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time Review
By James Harvey

An original movie starring the heroic members of the Justice League, JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time embraces some of the more classic, old-fashioned aspects of the DC Comics mythology and gives it a fresh coat of paint. If you're looking for something different from the grim and gritty PG-13 animated adventures found in the DC Universe Animated Original Movie line, this all-ages flick is right up your alley. While not perfect, JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time is an undeniably fun time that should keep fans enthralled for the duration.

The plot, as you read in the synopsis above, is pretty straightforward and opens itself up to plenty of exciting moments - whether it's the opening fisticuffs between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom, a host of heroes and villains fighting over a precious package, or the climactic battle to save all of reality against the evil Time Trapper. By no means is this film meant to change how we perceive the Justice League, but what it does do is give us a film that arguably has a better understanding of these characters than their current comic book counterparts. In all honesty, if you pick apart the film, the plot holes do start to add up (and there are more than a couple mighty big plotholes). But the film is so fun and enjoyable, you can't help but get sucked into the adventure. In all honesty, I actually found myself even getting a little more invested in the characters than I expected.

To give an immediate idea, the tone for the film falls between Batman: The Brave and The Bold and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time blends a straightforward plot with some funny (and occasionally campy) one-liners and a some pretty jaw-dropping action sequences. In fact, both the animation and action sequences were far beyond anything I was expecting. There's one sequence in particular, where Robin faces off against Kid Karate and Dawnstar, that can easily hold up to any action cartoon out there. Producer/Director Giancarlo Volpe knows how to balance story, action, and humor, and this flick is a prime example of just how well he has that down to an art.

As I stated above, the animation is far beyond what I was expecting for this type of low-level release. A "stealth release" available only at the American outlets of the Target chain (initially, at least)? Doesn't seem like something Warner Bros. Home Entertainment would want to sink a lot of money into. Well - wrong. JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time definitely has a healthy budget to it, and it shows. Action scenes look fantastic, character animation is nice and even subtle at times (watch Bizarro and Solomon Grundy), and even some of the rare quiet moments are just pretty to look at.

Younger heroes Karate Kid and Dawnstar are given the spotlight for the most part, but the Justice League gets a fair shake. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Robin, The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman all get great shining moments. Same goes for the baddies, though Luthor, Bizarro, and Solomon Grundy get more of the spotlight.

The character designs here are all pretty solid across the board, a mix of classic costumes and "New 52" updates. Batman and Robin are dressed in their traditional outfits (though a chinstrap is plastered on Batman's face), while Superman's threads are inspired by the current "The New 52" revamped look. And, personally, I have no issue with the lack of trunks on Superman. The design looks fine here, as far as I'm concerned. The odd thing is .... Bizarro still has his outerundies. Which, I suppose, makes sense in a way (of course Bizarro would wear his trunks on the outside and Superman the opposite), but it makes Superman's lack of glaringly noticeable. Still, the costumes here look great, with nothing looks wrong or garish. The cast all look like a modernized version of their 1970s Superfriends counterparts, a show which has a very strong influence over this animated movie. Time Trapper definitely deserves a nod for his decidedly creepy design.

Given that this is an all-ages adventures, there were a few silly moments that might have some of the older members of the audience rolling their eyes. There's one scene in particular, where Solomon Grundy and Cheetah dress up to fool a married couple, may elicit a sigh and a groan, but it leads into one of the most hilarious chase/fight scenes I think I've ever seen in a DC Comics cartoon.

One of the most appealing aspects of JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time is how welcoming it is to new younger fans. Even those who may not know about Batman and the Justice League are given just enough details to actually want to learn more. Plus, there's never a dull moment to be had thanks to the brisk pace of the story. The stakes feel real, and the film can get intense, but it's never overwhelming. Time Trapper looks creepy, but not enough to scare away younger viewers. More importantly, there's something in this movie for everyone, be it young or old. You have pratfalls, you have jokes, but also great action scenes and some smart adult humor. But, most importantly, this movie is just ... fun. It genuinely is. There is no better way to describe this movie than that. Fun.

In terms of the creative team behind JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, there's not a weak spot to be had. Michael Ryan's script is fast and fun, perfectly paired with Volpe's producing and stellar directing. The score by Green Lantern: The Animated Series' Frederick Weidmann is, naturally, fantastic. The casting is perfect across the board, with each actor obviously playing up the fun, more light-hearted tone of the movie. Villains are villains through and through, and usually over-the-top so. Heroes are true to the core, with every word utterly confident and bombastic. The younger heroes are a bit more layered, but it all works in content of the story.

To briefly comment on the DVD release itself, the presentation is top-notch. The audio and video is excellent for a standard DVD release, with the image clear and the sound sharp. The bonus features, some trailers and a couple Superfriends bonus episodes, are lacking but pretty standard for a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release such as this.

JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time feels like a throwback to a more light-hearted era of superheroes. As much as we enjoy thoughtful, serious action shows like Justice League and Young Justice, and the excellent ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movie line, it's great to have a fun alternative like this. If you like old-school heroics without the angst, then look no further. Entertaining, upbeat, and enjoyable for all ages (not just kids!), I heartily recommend JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time. Go pick it up now before time runs out!


JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time – a co-production between Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Animation – is available to own on DVD, Digital HD and on assorted streaming services. Click here for more details on this animated feature!


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