Thursday, February 12, 2015

Extra, extra: 'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis' has great bonus material

I'm not sure whether I'm the rule or the exception, but I really enjoy bonus features on DVDs and Blu-rays. Generally, action flicks have much more interesting bonus material than dramas, which are better than comedies.

With "Justice League: Throne of Atlantis," the special features are better and more interesting than the animated feature itself. Don't take my word for it; here's my breakdown:

"Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" tells Arthur Curry's
origin and picks up where "Justice League: War" left off.
"Villains of the Deep": This is a critical look at the motivations behind Ocean Master and Black Manta by the following talking heads: Dr. Benjamin Karvey (UCLA professor of psychology), James Tucker (executive producer of the DC Animated line) and Mike Carlin (creative director of animation for DC Comics).

It's always find it intriguing to hear intellectuals like Karvey talk about superheroes. That in turn makes me wonder if he's always been a comic-book fan (or a rare one in the academia crowd), if he's written an Aquaman- or supehero-based research paper, is considered an expert on such topics or if Karvey was chosen simply because he teaches psychology near the studio where this film was created.

Ocean Master
Somewhat surprisingly, each of the talking heads hit on the topics I briefly addressed in my "Throne of Atlantis" review — the juicy themes of loyalty and sibling rivalry.

"That's when Aquaman's story becomes Shakespeare (or) Greek (drama)," Karvey says in the featurette. As I mentioned in my review, it's a shame "Throne" didn't have more of that — or at least did a better job of delivering those themes because it would made for a more intriguing story. Or as Carlin says, it would have been a story of Camelot underwater. Grade: B

"Nightwing and Robin" bonus feature: Not really a "Throne of Atlantis" deleted scene or a even a feature. Actually, it's both.

Tucker says the 56-second sequence was deleted from script, but included on the Blu-ray at DC's request. Before showing the footage on its own, Tucker shares how it fills in and completes a subplot when Batman is tracking down Scarecrow. Nightwing and Robin (Damian Wayne) take down Scarecrow and his gang — as I mentioned, an unresolved subplot from a scene early in the film featuring Green Lantern and Batman.

Most exciting for animation fans, Tucker says in the commentary he hopes this footage will resurrected the animated DC "shorts."

Released under the DC Showcase banner on a handful of previous DVDs, the "shorts" featured DC characters who hadn't starred in their full-length animated projects. The best one by far was "Green Arrow." I enjoyed the "Catwoman" one — aside from the character designers drawing her boobs waaaay too large. "Jonah Hex" and "The Spirit" shorts were well done, but not to my tastes. Three of these were collected in the "Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam" DVD and Blu-ray.

"I really want to reactivate the shorts program and I think we can do it and I think we can do it. This ('Nightwing and Robin' footage) is the first in a line of hopefully more to come," Tucker says in his commentary. GREAT news! Grade: B+

Andrea Romano in 2012
(Source: Romano's Wikipedia page)
"Throne of Atlantis" New York City Comic Con panel (Oct 12, 2014):  Usually for me, convention panels are full of too much self-congratulations and self-promotions without enough substance to be included on DVDs or Blu-rays. Such experiences are great for the fans who were in attendance, but the overall, the quality (content and sound) of such panels is lacking to make it worth watching from the comfort of your living room.

That's not the case with "Throne of Atlantis;" not only are Tucker, voice director Andrea Romano and screenwriter Heath Corson and Aquaman/Arthur Curry voice actor Matt Lanter part of the panel, the moderator asks them decent questions and they give interesting answers. (Corson also wrote the previous "Justice League" animated film, "War" — the predecessor to "Throne Atlantis"— and the best of this recent batch of New 52-inspired features, "Batman: Assault on Arkham.")

Even better than the moderator's questions are those from the audience — which usually are cringe-inducing and close to impossible to hear. But here, the editors flash the questions on the scene before the person's reply, which means we don't have to deal with piss-poor audio from the microphones on the convention floor.
You'll love the responses.

Two words: Batman family! Grade: B+

Check back here at Cary's Comics Craze for another "Throne of Atlantis" special feature, "A Sneak Peek at 'Batman vs. Robin'!

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