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Reviews - One-Disc Edition (DVD)
 
Packaging
Menus
Street Date: February 26, 2008
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish
Run Time: 75 minutes approx.
Rating: PG-13
Media Quantity: 1 (DVD 9)
Packaging Type: Double Amaray
Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78 Widescreen [16:9 Transfer]

Sound Quality:
English: Dolby Surround 5.1

Click Here for a Sneak Peek at the Bonus Features
DVD Features:
• "Super Heroes United!: The Complete Justice League History"- The documentary is a comprehensive forty seven year Justice League chronology from the inception in the comics to vivid animated renditions. The story is told with a myriad of interviews tracing back the early days of DC Super Hero team ups during the Golden Age, to the Silver Age rendition where the established heroes emerged and beyond. Interviews include Paul Levitz (President of DC Comics), Dan Didio (SVP Executive Editor at DC Comics), Michael Uslan (Historian), Gregory Noveck (SVP Creative Affairs DC Comics), Mark Waid (DC Comics Historian and Writer), Mike Friedrich (Writer JLU), Denny O¹Neil (Writer and Editor at DC Comics), Mike Carlin (DC Comics Executive Editor), Stan Lee (Marvel Comics Co-Creator) and Marv Wolfman (Writer of Fantastic Four).

• "Sneak Peak: Batman: Gotham Knight" - One part anime, one part Caped Crusader, the result is a glimpse at the world of Eastern anime sensibilities combined with a Western tradition of Batman. A detailed look at the world of Warner Bros Animation, and how they joined forces with the renowned Japanese animators to create the highly anticipated anime film of 2008.

• "Audio Commentary I" (featuring the talented filmmakers of New Frontier)
• "Audio Commentary II" (featuring Comic Book Writer and Artist Darwyn Cooke)

Synopsis: Inspired by the best-selling graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and produced by the multiple Emmy® award winning animation legend, Bruce Timm, The New Frontier is the epic tale of the founding of the Justice League. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are all here of course, and so are Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Flash - whose incredible origins will be told for the very first time. Strangers at first, these very different heroes must overcome fear and suspicion to forge an alliance against a monster so formidable, even the mighty Superman can not stop it. If they fail, our entire planet will be “cleansed” of humanity.

Review
Well…holy crap. I must say after the mediocre first attempt with Superman Doomsday, I was already wondering if this DC Universe line was going to take off at all. Then I watched The New Frontier footage and I began to get some hope again. Sure, we’ve seen the Justice League in animation before, but nothing like The New Frontier was going to be. This was going to be a return to the silver age, with gosh and golly gee’s thrown in for good measure. My reading of the original comic only furthered my excitement for the title and by the time the film arrived in my hands, I could hardly wait to throw that disc right into the DVD player.

In The New Frontier our Justice League has disbanded after questioning from the government over their tactics. While Superman and Wonder Woman still ally themselves with the US Government, other heroes like The Flash and Batman become vigilantes, despite their instance on doing good. It’s not until the advent of a new Green Lantern and the coming of a dark evil known as the Centre arrives on Earth do we see our heroes join forces once again to defeat the forces of darkness. With near a dozen heroes making appearances throughout, The New Frontier has set a stage for the DC Universe DTVs that I wonder if will ever be met again.

There’s so much to talk about with The New Frontier that I hardly know where to begin. My mind is racing, trying to remember every detail, every glorious detail, that is sprinkled throughout the film and even after three viewings I still don’t feel like I’ve had enough. The New Frontier is the first animated feature in a long time that I’ve felt completely satisfied while walking away from. With years of mediocre “adult animated” efforts by western studios that have very little pay off from what they hope to accomplish, I’m very happy to say that The New Frontier obliterates any feature length superhero film I’ve seen in recent years.

Click here to continue reading the film review portion...

The DVD
Warner Home Video shocked the DC Animation fan community by announcing that not only would be receiving The New Frontier on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, but we would also be seeing a two-disc DVD release, packed with even more extras. As if that wasn’t wonderful enough, they also opted to give us to commentary tracks. Purely from a words-on-paper standpoint, it looked like this release would blow away what we got on the Superman Doosmday DVD.

First up on this release is the packaging. A standard amaray case with the two discs housed inside without any insert aside from a DC Direct advertisement booklet. An exterior slipcover is included on the two-disc edition which has a foil reflective coating to it, giving it a nice sheen. Not quite as fancy as the 3D image on the Doomsday slipcover, but still a nice touch. The disc art inside is what you’d expect: the first disc is identical to the single disc release mirroring that cover art, while the second disc in this set mirrors the two-disc art. Moving onto the menu system, everything is static with music over the main menu only. The menu system is a variant of the single disc cover, with a bit more tan colors thrown about. The menus for both discs are nearly identical and are simple and easy to navigate.

Next up is the video and audio transfer. Those that read my Doomsday review no doubt remembered my complaints about the lack of any bass in the 5.1 track. I’m happy to report that Warner upped the ante a bit on this release, as it’s got a bit of a kick in some instances, though still not quite as powerful as I had hoped. Still, it’s a satisfactory track that even employs the satellites on more than one occasion. The video transfer is also flawless, although due to the images cleanliness, compression rears its head a bit more than I would have liked. Still, it looks pretty awesome and really shines on a nice LCD. I’m sure the HD versions of this film will simply floor the viewer—I may actually pick up a Blu Ray copy at some point, whenever I buy a player.

Moving onto the extras we find a nice wealth of information here on the first disc. Firs up is a documentary titled “Super Heroes United!: The Complete Justice League History” (41:02) which delves into the history of the Justice League through all of the ages of comic books. This feature is oddly light on The New Frontier details, although Cooke does get a bit of screen time to talk about how and why he chose a certain era of characters to portray in his series. It’s a great documentary, packed with words from a slew of DC head honchos and writers. For some reason the animated Justice League/Unlimited series didn’t get much of a nod (although there was music used from the show quite frequently in this extra). Even weirder is there are three episodes on the second disc from Justice League Unlimited, so the omission is very strange. I’m not sure why they insist on leaving giant bits of information out of these extras…they did a similar thing with Superman Doomsday. I mean I get that they focus on the comic books in these extras, but these extras are on a DVD with a film that was produced by the writers and creators of the original Justice League show—you’d think they’d get a bit more face time.

After the documentary we get two audio commentaries. The first is with executive producer Bruce Timm, supervising producer Mike Goguen, voice director Andrea Romano, director David Bullock, screenwriter Stan Berkowitz and DC Comics Senior Vice President/Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck. This is certainly a packed track in term of participants, but Noveck and Timm take center stage here and do most of the talking. Romano will pipe up about a voice actor occasionally and Berkowitz will add a nugget of information, but I don’t remember hearing too much from Goguen or Bullock. There was only a few periods of no talking, but those were often quickly remedied by a sudden burst of information about the production of the film.

The second commentary is a solo track with Darwyn Cooke. While the first track with Timm and Company was interesting, Cooke’s track is easily the highlight of the two. Cooke comes in full of information to spill about the film, ranging from the production of it, how it came about and his feelings towards it. He frequently notes things that he feel didn’t work quite as well as he had hoped they would, but also is quick to mention just how beautifully it all came out to be. It’s a really great commentary track that was just a delight to listen to, due to its highly informative nature and how easily Cooke entertains the listener with just words.

The final extras on the disc are some trailers and a “Sneek Peak - Gotham Knight” (10:08) featurette that, quite frankly, has me really jazzed for the Gotham Knight DTV. The amount of detail in the cities and character designs for that film look absolutely breathtaking. I’m definitely going to enjoy watching those shorts, if only for a visual element. Not a whole lot of detail is given about the DTV, but there’s plenty of storyboards and actual animation to view. As much as I loved The New Frontier, I think I may be more excited for Gotham Knight now, purely from a visual and artistic standpoint.

The only disappointment on this release that I found was the general lack of making-of for the film. Aside from the commentaries and a lone extra on disc two, we don’t get any focus on the film itself. None of the voice recording sessions from the original preview from the Superman Doomsday DVD are included, so those hoping to hear from Boreanez or Lawless will be let down. It seems odd to have this much star power in a film and then not show them off in the extras.

Ultimately the single disc edition is well worth a purchase for the casual fan, but those looking for a bit more will want to look at the two-disc edition. There only two other extra bonus features on the two disc edition, but fans will love them, so those who enjoy Justice League will be won over by the two disc edition. The single disc edition is Recommended for the casuals, but the die hard should pass and focus on the two-disc edition.

Fans of the DC Universe will find this film hard to pass up, let alone passing up the two-disc or HD editions. It’s certainly one of the strongest pieces of DC Animation I’ve ever seen and I’m hoping that the bar is continually raised after this. With Gotham Knight looking promising, it seems that my initial worries after viewing Superman Doomsday (which, while I enjoyed, didn’t feel it hit all of the marks it could have) were unfounded. The New Frontier is a supremely crafted film that fires on all cylinders and has only a few drawbacks. Don’t hesitate to pick this one up—comic fan or not, there’s plenty here for a wide range of audiences to enjoy. This is Justice League at its finest.
Justice League: The New Frontier, and related characters and indicia are property of DC Comics and WB, 2012.
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