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Reviews - Two-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: 2 (DVD 9, DVD 5)
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:
Disc One
• "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)

Disc Two
• "The Legion of Doom: The Pathology of the Super Villain"- This documentary will examine the early mythological archetypes of nemesis characters from a historical perspective, and see how the tenants of this rich history were adapted and woven into the Justice League stories. The bonus feature includes many of the talent included in Super Heroes United! As well as Jim Kreuger (Writer of "Justice").

• "Comic Book Commentary: Homage to the New Frontier" - This documentary is a nod to the fans of the New Frontier comic book. This featurette further expands the themes contained in the source material, and how these elements were truncated or evolved for the inclusion in the film. Featuring vivid imagery culled from the pages of the New Frontier comic, mixed with the commentary of Writer and Artist Darwyn Cooke, this featurette is a treat for both fans and scholars of the medium.

• "Justice League Unlimited Bonus Episodes" Bruce Timm selects three of his favorite episodes from the Justice League Unlimited animated series:

1. Dark Heart ­ Alien invaders attempt to thwart the Justice League. The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of Ray Palmer, AKA The Atom.
2. To Another Shore - Wonder Woman learns of a plot to steal the powers of the 3,000 year-old corpse of The Viking Prince. It is up to the Justice League to make things right.
3. Task Force X - Four incarcerated villains are released from prison by Cadmus to undertake an impossible mission: steal a powerful mystic artifact from the JLU Watchtower under the noses of the League.

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 (Zach Demeter)
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.

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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.

Moving onto disc two we first have a “revealing documentary” titled The Legion of Doom: Pathology of the Super Villain” (33:55) and is narrated by Malcolm McDowell. Now I’m not entirely sure why this extra is even included on this set, as the Legion of Doom had nothing to do with The New Frontier, aside from some short appearances by Captain Cold and Gorilla Grodd. It’s a relatively light featurette, but its fun to watch just for a quick history lesson.

Next we have “Comic Book Commentary: Homage to the New Frontier” (10:13) which is the best extra on this second disc. While it’s a 16x9 image in a 4x3 frame (all other extras were in anamorphic widescreen—why did this one get the shaft?), it’s a great extra that is all visual clips from the film as well as stills from the comic book. Cooke narrates about the changes that were made from the comic to the film and what things were switched around to better accommodate a feature film. This extra, even in its short run time, is worth the price of the second disc alone. It’s a really great piece that is very interesting to watch, especially since I’d forgotten that so much was removed from the film (granted, I hadn’t read the comic since this DTV was originally announced a year or so ago).

Finally we have a trio of Justice League Unlimited episodes. “Dark Heart”, “To Another Shore” and “Task Force X” have all been released on DVD via the Justice League Unlimited volume releases before, so their inclusion here may confuse some. There’s no explanation on the DVD as to why these were chosen for this set, but executive producer Bruce Timm mentioned on our forums that they were done as they related, in some way, to The New Frontier. I’m sure viewers will find the parallels between the film and the episodes easily enough, but a short intro might have helped. Also, for some strange reason, the episodes are in fullscreen (4:3), while the original DVD releases had them in their proper 16:9 frame. Why? I’ve not a clue. Nearly everything else on this DVD is in anamorphic widescreen, not sure why these episodes were chopped down. Kind of sucks too, as I’d hoped they would bring in a few new fans, but the lack of the widescreen presentation might throw some off.

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.

Still, even in its low points, the two-disc edition of The New Frontier is an extremely solid DVD release. It certainly is one of the more packed DC Animation DVD releases I’ve seen from Warner Home Video, I just hope that they make some more feature-focused extras in the future, rather than spending an hour on the comics that inspired the story that inspired this film.

Fans of the DC Universe will find this film hard to pass up, let alone passing up this 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. Highly Recommended.

Review (James Harvey)
As the movie opens, you know Justice League: The New Frontier will be something different. Whether you've read the graphic novel that inspired the film or have no idea what to expect, the opening scene is something special. The movie opens with a beautiful sequence showing the creation of a children's book, a rather ominous children's book, telling about the coming of The Centre, and its plans to eradicate all life from the Earth? As the author finishes the book, we see him put down his art utensils and reach over for a gun. Cue the gunshot and then cue the beautifully rendered opening credits. How's that for an opener? And it only gets better from there.

Justice League: The New Frontier takes viewers on an action-packed adventure, exploring the origins of the Justice League. DC Comics legends Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are all featured in the film, as well as Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and The Flash, as they band together to form the legendary super team. 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 cannot stop it alone. If they fail, the entire planet will be "cleansed" of humanity.

So there we go. That's the gist of the plot right there. Now, for those who have read DC: The New Frontier, you already know how everything is going to turn out. For those who are newbies to the story, you're in for a surprise. This is not the kind of Justice League story you'd fine on Justice League Unlimited. It's a movie with a tone all it's own, completely different than what we've seen before in both the level of maturity presented and even the content. While some may call Superman Doomsday a product of juvenile excess, this movie is a product of maturity. This movie approaches the topic of superheroes, and the subsequent ramifications, with such a level of maturity not seen before in animation. Maybe comparable to some of the live-action stuff, but nothing before in animation . . . at least the animation I've watched.

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The DVD
Warner Home Video has released Justice League: The New Frontier in four editions: Single-Disc, Two Disc Special Edition, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray. The complete rundown of specs for each release can be found here. Warner Home Video has provided the Two Disc Special Edition to review.

The DVD is housed in a regular hinged Amaray case covered by an embossed reflective foil cardboard slipcase. The slipcase replicated both the back and front cover art. The only extra material inside is an insert for advertising toys, books, and other DVD releases. Overall, a solid presentation, even with the lack of relevant inserts.

Onto the disc itself, Warner Home Video offers a great audio/video transfer and a plethora of extras on this two-disc release. The video is crisp and sharp, with no noticeable defects or problems at all. I didn't notice one flaw throughout the entire feature. The sound is just a crisp, with every bit of dialogue coming through loud and clear, and the actions scenes nearly jumping out of the speakers. It's a nearly perfect transfer as you could expect on a standard DVD release.

As for the extras, there's nothing to complain about here. We get a couple audio commentaries, a couple documentaries, a couple featurettes, and a batch of Justice League Unlimited episodes. So, let's start at the beginning and work our way through the two discs worth of extras.

First up is the forty minutes-long Super Heroes United: The Complete Justice League History documentary, where a host of creators give their thoughts on the history of the Justice League. The documentary mixes clips from Justice League: The New Frontier, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Super Friends with comic book shots, artwork, and talking heads interviews. We start with the birth of Superman and basically work our way to the current Justice League of America series and everything in-between. For those who don't know anything about the comic book roots of these characters, this is an invaluable extra. Barely any stone is left unturned as just about every era of the League is covered, and I mean everything. On top of covering the history, we even get a look at the characters from a historical standpoint and from a theological standpoint, too, resulting in some really fascinating information and comparisons between these heroes and mythology. Never boring, always interesting.

After that we get a ten-minute preview of the upcoming Batman: Gotham Knight, and I have to say that it looks absolutely amazing. Now, I'm not a big anime fan, but I can not wait for this release. It looks absolutely stunning. You get a look at the different Batman designs being used, as well as a look at some very creative designs for Scarecrow, Killer Croc, and Deadshot. Add on a healthy heaping of supporting cast designs and a ton of the action scenes, and I think you have a winner. This upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movie looks absolutely amazing and Summer 2008 can’t come fast enough. Count me in!

What follows that are a couple of really informative audio commentaries. One is by the filmmakers who worked on the film, including Bruce Timm, Dave Bullock, Michael Goguen, Andrea Romano, Stan Berkowitz, Gregory Novak. It's a packed audio commentary that starts off strong and manages to hold itself quite well until the end. I was surprised that there were more than a few quiet moments peppered throughout, but overall it's a good track. The second audio commentary by Darwyn Cooke is just excellent. Yes, there are pauses, too, but he provided just a wealth of information here. A lot of the time he talks about the differences between this movie and his graphic novel, what he finds disappointing in the movie, and what he thought did and didn't work in both the draft of the movie and the final version itself. It's a great track, and the best audio commentary between the two.

The first disc is rounded off with a selection of trailers.

Now, onto the second disc! The main draw of the second disc is the extra documentary and the three Justice League Unlimited episodes. Now, the The Legion of Doom: The Pathology of the Super Villain runs roughly a half-hour in length and take a look, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, at the villains and it's a really enjoyable extra. It takes us throw some of the various incarnations of the villains and where they are now. It’s not as in-depth as documentary on the previous disc, but fans, particularly those of Justice League Unlimited will enjoy the additional background information on the bad guys.

After that we have a shot ten minute featurette where Darwyn Cooke provides some more commentary on both DC: The New Frontier and the Justice League: The New Frontier film. It's a nice companion piece to his commentary on the first disc.

And now, to round off the disc, we have three Justice League Unlimited bonus episodes and, well, it's a bit of a mixed bag. I won't bother to comment on the episodes, but just on their presentation. Not only are they listed out of order, but they're full screen transfers. That's right . . . full screen transfers. I have no idea why they couldn't just go with the widescreen transfers to these episodes. Perhaps they're using that as an incentive for people to pick up the Justice League Unlimited DVD releases, but I was disappointed to see the full screen transfers. I suppose it's a minor quibble in an overall stacked presentation of extras.

And, speaking of extras, while I enjoyed the very comic book-oriented aspect of the extras, I was hoping we'd get to see more production information on the movie itself, but sadly, that's mostly limited to the commentaries. I can understand that these extras will serve as a doorway to the comic book world for some viewers, but what about information on the film's actual production? I wish we could have seen more of that, and the deleted scenes and animatics referenced in the commentaries. Much like the Superman Doomsday DVD release, I thought the extras were excellent, yes, but they still lacked a nice, detailed look at the actual production of the film, though I suppose a fair amount of that is covered in the audio commentary.

Overall, it goes without saying that Justice League: The New Frontier comes Highly Recommended. It's not your average Justice League tale and that, to me, really makes this special. The main feature is really something to behold and absorb, with layers upon layers of story. The DVD also contains a great load of special features that comic book enthusiasts should find really enjoyable. It's a really solid package from start to finish with an abundance of material. It truly belongs on any comic book, animation, or movie lover's shelf.
Justice League: The New Frontier, and related characters and indicia are property of DC Comics and WB, 2012.
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