Official Description: Together, they've saved the world countless times from unimaginable dangers. But the price has been high. Their ranks have diminished after fighting off an alien invasion and with new dangers arising at an ever-increasing pace, the remaining crime fighters realize that protecting the entire world is going to take more technology and more manpower. A lot more. Featuring the original seven Leaguers - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, J'onn J'onzz, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl - now joined by an unlimited selection of allies including Green Arrow, Supergirl and Black Canary. But some think that so many heroes, so much power, is too much power and a conspiracy against them named Cadmus is growing. And after years of foiled plots and repeated beatings, the galaxy's worse villains finally have a plan: strength in numbers! Led by Lex Luthor, the Legion of Doom prepares to dominate the universe. First order of business: destroy the Justice League!
Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series Blu-ray
Review by James Harvey
Now, we all know what Justice League Unlimited is. We've seen all the episodes, discussed the series in lengthy detail and debated its merits in terms of both an animated series and in terms of how it handled our favorite DC Comics heroes. So, right now, we can skip over that for just a second and quickly address two concerns fans really want to know - is the episode order correct and is the infamous DVD audio glitch present here? To cut right to it - the episodes are in the correct order and there's no audio glitch. And, rest assured, that is just the tip of what this excellent Blu-ray release has to offer.
For those who don't know what I'm talking about - concerning the episode order and the audio glitch - I'll get to that a little further below. For now, let's swing back to where this review should begin - with the show itself. Justice League Unlimited is the culmination of everything that has come before it. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, The Zeta Project, all of it. All of it seems to comes crashing together is this vast series that weaves everything together, usually with utter brilliance, to make one giant tapestry. Sure, maybe it sounds like I'm overselling it a little, but it feels true. The scope of this series is amazing and, while the animation sometimes can't properly convey it, the story-telling is rich and complex, arguably as complicated as anything you'd find in live-action prime-time television. This show deconstructs our biggest heroes and myths, but never in a condescending way, and always leaving room for plenty of fisticuffs.
Justice League Unlimited spends its first season covering what is basically one long mega-arc. We see hints of it in the early episodes that eventually boil over into an epic four-part finale. Shadowy governments, clones, conspiracies, betrayals and close calls - classic tropes that feel fresh when bathed in a whole new light against the backdrop of the world's great heroes. It's impressive story-telling and completely gripping, all ending with a very satisfying conclusion, full of jaw-dropping revelations and massive fisticuffs. And, in what's completely rare for television animation, the show even gets a victory lap. Justice League Unlimited gets a second season to just have fun with the show's concept, have some light-hearted adventures and go out on an earth-shattering note.
How does Justice League Unlimited breakdown, plot-wise? After fighting off an alien invasion in the previous two-season Justice League series, our heroes find their ranks diminished and - with new dangers arising at an ever-increasing pace - the remaining crime fighters realize that protecting the entire world is going to take more technology and more manpower. A lot more. The original seven Justice Leaguers - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, J'onn J'onzz, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl - are now joined by an unlimited selection of allies including Green Arrow, Supergirl and Black Canary. But some think all this power is too much power and a conspiracy against them grows, ultimately leading to a pretty epic stand-off that wraps up the first 25 episodes (which is also capped by a special one-off epilogue episode). Following that, the galaxy's worse villains finally have a plan after years of foiled plots and repeated beatings: strength in numbers! Led by Lex Luthor, the Legion of Doom prepares to dominate the universe. First order of business: destroy the Justice League!
While there are some weak episodes to be found among the 39 includes here in this Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series Blu-ray collection, even those have their merits. But those other episodes, the ones that are just incredibly strong on all fronts, those are amazing to watch. Every series has high points and low points, and this show is no different, but it really strives for some really ambitious story-telling and succeeds more often than not. Episodes like "Question Authority," "Fearful Symmetry," "Wake the Dead," "The Cat and the Canary," "Doomsday Sanction," "Task Force X," among others, are fantastic pieces of storytelling. And if that means we have to endure the odd episode like "Hawk and Dove," "The Ties That Bind," "The Balance" and "Far From Home," then so be it.
And regardless of whether or not any given episode was strong or underwhelming, from week to week, Justice League Unlimited offered something new and ran with it. Like the name of the show itself, the stories in this cartoon were truly unlimited. It had no bounds and it reveled in it ... it could do anything! And it did. Now, if you want to look closer at specific episodes, I urge you to check out the episode reviews section of this website for some great commentary and insight. I could gush about this show for days, so I'll spare you. But overall, the series is something that will likely be unsurpassed for some time to come. Justice League Unlimited was truly epic story-telling, and getting this series on Blu-ray (meaning both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited are finally together on the format) is something we fans have been waiting for.
Warner Archive and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have issued all 39 episodes of Justice League Unlimited on a succinct three-disc Blu-ray collection and, rest assured, it's a solid release. The manufacture-on-demand label continues to knock these DC Comics-based animated titles right out of the park, and it's possible they've set a new high-bar with this one.
The audio and video quality is outstanding. I know some are upset that the audio mix is just DTS-HD 2.0 but, honestly, it still produces a hefty noise. The speakers rumble with each action scene, and everything sounds as clear and precise as they should. If you've purchased any of the other excellent Warner Archive releases of the other DC Comics animated shows, you know what to expect here - it's excellent. In terms of visuals, it's pretty gorgeous. The leap from DVD-quality to Blu-ray is immediately noticeable. Watching these episodes in high-def is almost like rediscovering them. I find myself paying more close attention to the quality of the animation, noticing small ticks, errors or little flourishes. I've definitely noticed a few great animation touches that I've never seen before, but the errors are also a bit more apparent. Still, when the animation is firing on all cylinders, it looks jaw-dropping at times. Warner Archive has created a stunning video transfer, no question about it.
In terms of bonus content, Warner Archive ported over a good chunk of the previously available DVD bonus content, but not all. The ported over content provides a general overview of the entire series when it's all put together. We get a look at a couple specific episodes, particularly the fan-favorite "This Little Piggy" and the epic "The Return," two vastly different episodes which actually provide a nice look at the varied approaches this series took to telling stories, and then three featurettes which look at the series as a whole, the "Cadmus" story arc and the final season. While all the bonus content isn't here, what's included does touch upon pretty much every aspect of the animated series, which shows to me this bonus content was specifically chosen.
Now, to touch upon something previously mentioned, the audio glitch present in the episode "Divided We Fall" on the DVD release of Justice League Unlimited: The Complete First Season, which resulted in the audio skipping during the episode's climactic battle scene, is not found here, nor should anyone expect it to be. The audio glitch was an issue with the authoring of that DVD title in particular, so there's no real reason it would be replicated here. Also, the episode order error found on the Justice League Unlimited: The Complete First Season DVD release, where "Hunter's Moon" was erroneously sandwiched between "Question Authority" and "Flashpoint," is also not found here. Warner Archive did an excellent job making sure everything was in proper order when putting this Blu-ray collection together.
There's always more than can be done for a title like this - more bonus content, more audio options and so on - but I'm really pleased with what Warner Archive put together. Yes, it's unfortunate that all the previously released bonus content isn't ported over, but what Warner Archive included here is the key bonus content that matters. The only other extra that maybe should've been included is the Dwayne McDuffie "A Legion of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story" tribute featurette that appeared on the Justice League: Doom home video release. The late, great McDuffie played a significant role shaping Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and it would've been great to see that here.
Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series is a Blu-ray release that fans should definitely add to their collection. Justice League Unlimited is the culmination of the outstanding DC Animated Universe (a term coined right here at the WF, actually), and having it all collected in the Blu-ray format is long-overdue and satisfying. It's a show that's so easy to get lost in, too. Upon reviewing this collection, I found myself just uncontrollably binge-watching the series. The show holds up so remarkably well, having the excuse to revisit it has been glorious. Whether you're a long-time fan of the animated series, or looking for quite possibly the best super-hero based television show made, this three-disc Blu-ray set needs to be part of your collection. Seriously - go get it right now! Must Own!
Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series is available now via WBshop.com and popular online retailers.
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