Aquaman, the ineffectual laughing stock who merely talks to fish is no more. In his place we have the bad-ass Aquaman he’s always deserved to be seen as. Fans of the king of Atlantis can rejoice.
In Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Warner Bros./DC continue in their fine tradition of (almost) full-length animated features with the second instalment of the New 52 (the third if you count JL: The Flashpoint Paradox?) Justice League adaptations, this time pitting our nascent group of 7 against the forces of — the “Loki” of the DCU — Prince Orm of Atlantis. Luckily, Arthur Curry, his surface-born half brother — the “Thor” of the DCU?? — is there to lend the League a hand.
Ably directed by relative new-comer Ethan Spaulding to the director’s chair, this direct-to-Blu Ra feature loosely adapts the Geoff Johns Throne of Atlantis storyline from the New 52. It retains most of the cast from the previous excursion, Justice League: War, with a few welcome (and familiar) additions – Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, and fan-fave Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Justice League: Doom) makes a welcome return to the role of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern.
But with all this going for it, this film is still just “pretty good”, rather than “really good” or “great”. The animation is typically slick, and the story rockets along at a breakneck pace; but it suffers the same fate as many other WB/DC animated movies – bashing up against the dreaded 71-minute limitation means many plot elements, story beats, and character moments get left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Having been introduced to this iteration of the team one already saves us some time, but this short a feature tends to lose some of the epic gravitas one might expect from a modern Justice League adaptation.
The ending is satisfying, and Arthur Curry/Aquaman fares well – the writers even embracing the “talks to fish” joke and turning it on it’s ear, as his most powerful “ace-in-the-hole” – but as we’ve seen from WB/DC animated adaptations, it’s not unreasonable to expect the quality of Batman: Under The Red Hood, All-Star Superman, or The Dark Knight Returns 1&2; a standard which Justice League: Throne of Atlantis never quite reaches.
Still, I challenge anyone to find me a better Aquaman movie.