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Justice League: Gods And Monsters (Blu-ray Review)

Justice-League-Gods-MonstersThis is not your parents’ Justice League! These heroes are not the renowned saviors of the world – they’re more likely Earth’s despotic rulers. Witness the divergent reality where the Justice League protects the planet but answers to no one but themselves. Employing methods of intimidation and fear, this Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman deal brute force in the name of justice.  The Elseworlds-style tale features the voice talents of Michael C. Hall as Batman, Benjamin Bratt as Superman, Tamara Taylor as Wonder Woman, Jason Isaacs as Lex Luthor, Paget Brewster as Lois Lane, and C. Thomas Howell as Dr. Will Magnus. Gods & Monsters arrives on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack.

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Film 

In this alternate universe, Superman was not raised by the Kents in Smallville; he is the son of General Zod. The Caped Crusader is not Bruce Wayne; he’s a vampiric Man-Bat. And Wonder Woman is not an Amazon warrior of Themyscira; she’s the child of Ares, God of War. When a group of famed scientists experience untimely “accidents,” a government task force follows the trail of clues to the Justice League, but is there a more powerful player operating from the shadows? It’s a high stakes game of intrigue, mystery and action that asks the question: How do you serve justice to those above the law?

Some might scoff because its not the same ol same ol safeville Justice League story here in Gods and Monsters.  Its not picking up or building off of the current DC Animated Universe continuity.  This here (for now) is a one off project by Bruce Timm.  A big elseworld tale with new origins for the DC “Big 3” in Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.  And what a fresh breath and cool story this is.  It may not be the strongest film in the lexicon, but its idea is enough to keep you on your toes and see different twists and turns throughout as well as a different mentality on things that seems familiar but are at the same time the furthest things from being so.

The cast here is decent enough.  Michael C. Hall, while not your typical Batman-voiced performer is very interesting in this new portrayal.  I actually enjoyed his work as the Kirk Langstrom version of Batman more than current mainstay Jason O’Mara.  Benjamin Bratt is perfect here for a dark version of Superman raised now by a Mexican family and the son of Zod.  Another highlight was Paget Brewster as Lois Lane.  I’m a big fan of the actress, but this seemed so perfect that only in some sort of wild elseworld like this movie could I get her as a live action Lois Lane in a theatrical release.  Everyone else rounds out the cast decently with Tamara Taylor giving a nice spin on Wonder Woman.

The movie does have some issues.  I think the mystique of what’s going on holds its interest pretty strongly.  There are some oddly placed flashback sequences that sort take you out of it for a long period of time interrupting an interesting portion of the film.  The flashbacks themselves do work good, but its just when they come in that’s a little odd and distracting.  Aside from that and a kinda weak finale, I did enjoy myself quite a bit.  I really really hope people check this one out as its like nothing they’ve put out before.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  This animated feature looks very sharp and clean in its appearance.  Detail is all it can be for what it is.  Nobody should really disappointed with it.

Depth:  More of a flatter animation style, with a couple areas that impress.  The rocket escape from Krypton is an example.

Black Levels: Blacks are accurate and since its animated, pretty solid when it appears.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look very nice.  Its not a wild and crazy palette,  but very focused.  Very solid production and pops where necessary.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean aside from some slight macroblocking occurrences.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin)

Dynamics:  This is a really awesome ride with the 5.1 track.  The action is everpresent, lively and loud.  There is a good loose quality to the feel of the film, crafting a healthy balance between the sound effects, musical score, and vocals in the film.

Low Frequency Extension:  The fights are pretty action packed.  The subwoofer adds to explosions, rocket jets, punches and anything else that might need a good bounce.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is pretty spot on.  Effects, voices, movement and everything travels as it should at the correct volume settings.  Backing speakers get little more to do than just ambiance and complementary scoring.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clean, crisp and clear.

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Extras 

Justice League: Gods And Monsters comes with a DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie: Batman: Bad Blood (HD, 11:45) – People talk about this next Batman adventure with some storyboards and finished animation playing in parts.

ALTERNATE REALITIES: Infinite Possibilities (HD, 19:24) – Discusses the timelines and different dimensions in the DC universe.

CALCULATED RISKS: The Making Of Gods and Monsters (HD, 23:37) – Discusses how ballsy it is to try and market and sell a one-off elseworld story like this, but the doors it could open if it works.

The New Gods (HD, 22:13) – Discusses Jack Kirby coming to DC comics, his series The New Gods and how he sort of created or planted the seeds for a shared comic book universe.

From The DC Comics Vault

  • Legion Of Super Heroes “Phantoms” (HD, 22:25)
  • Superman: The Animated Series “Brave New Metropolis” (HD, 21:19)

Trailers – Teen Titans Go!, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Batman Vs Robin

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Summary 

This is a really ballsy movie to put out for release, but I hope people give it a chance and check it out.  Its a really awesome elseworld one-off that I hope people find interesting.  Moreso for me than the constant Batman movies they put out (I LOVE LOVE LOVE Batman, and understand he sells merchandise, but I’d love the other characters explored too).  This Blu-ray really loads you up with bonus material and a terrific audio and video presentation.  Another win from the DC Animated Universe and Warner Bros.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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