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Dwayne McDuffie's Final Movie JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM Out Today on DVD

Reviews
by Curtis Caesar John
February 28, 2012 10:34 AM
9 Comments
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McDuffie_JL Doom

It is exactly one year and a week since the passing of media maestro Dwayne McDuffie, known more widely for his writing on the various Justice League cartoon series of the past decade as well as for Ben 10: Alien Force/Ultimate Alien, but more prominent as a comic book writer, enthusiast and advocate for better Black representation in that medium which he backed up in 1993 by being the co-founder of Milestone Media which along with other Black creators established a universe within a universe at DC Comics (home to Superman, Batman, etc) populated by mostly Black and ‘minority’ heroes such as Hardware, Icon, the Blood Syndicate, and their most continual popular character, Static. 

The cartoon movie McDuffie was working on before he passed comes out on DVD today, BluRay and the like today - Justice League: Doom.  Based on the pre-existing ‘Tower of Babel’ story from the Justice League of America comics, the entire league is taken down by super-villains led by the immortal Vandal Savage who learns their greatest weaknesses after he steals them from the always-ready Batman who compiled the files should the heroes ever become compromised. 

I saw an early-released copy of Doom last week and its…well, it’s okay.   I will begin with the positives.  It’s voiced by the trinity of Justice League actors:  Kevin Conroy, who immortalized the Batman voice in 'Batman: The Animated Series' (and any seriously-taken animation appearance by the bat since the early 90’s, save a few exceptions), Tim Daly – who is better known visually from various movies and tv shows but also has the most famous Superman voice since that characters 1990’s animated show, and Susan Eisenberg – the tough yet still sexy voice of Wonder Woman since the previously-stated Justice League cartoons, That’s a huge positive.  Fill it with Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) who already has voiced Green Lantern in the past and does again and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) who voiced The Flash throughout the many previous cartoons and you’ve got a fantastic lineup. 

Of equal prominence to me (and maybe to S&A audiences as well) is the return of Carl Lumbly (To Sleep With Anger, ‘Cagney & Lacey”, ‘Alias’) as the Martian Manhunter, who actually gets a lot to do in this movie, and the surprise addition of Cyborg, a character best known to the masses from the recent ‘Teen Titans” but a prominent character in the DC Comics Universe who recently was admitted to the Justice League in the present day comic book. Voiced quite well by Bumper Robinson, who to me has always been better at voiceover than actual acting in shows like ‘A Different World’ and ‘The Game’ as well as his own series like the insipid ‘Guys Like Us’, Cyborg isn’t just a background character, he’s brought in with something to really add to the story, which in the original version he wasn’t actually involved.  Phil Morris (‘Seinfeld’ and so many other shows) also reprises the voice of ultimate bad guy Vandal Savage and is quite menacing and believable in the part. 

Seeing all these cool characters on screen in the best part of this movie.   Them fighting for their survival against the toughest odds imaginable makes a great story, though it feels like it could have been executed better.   With the exception of Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, it just feels like it is just another fight for most of them – like you know that they’re going to beat the odds.  In other Justice League animated movies, you’re just now sure what the heck is gonna happen – some can die, some may not.   I want to feel like it can actually happen, but I don’t.  Doom is among the weakest of the Lauren Montgomery directed vehicles, which include Wonder Woman (the best one yet) as well as Green Lantern: First Flight and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.  

McDuffie’s previous cartoon movie All-Star Superman, released last year right after his death, does a better job of being heart-warming to the audience.  Yes, it is based on a stronger story, but having read/seen both versions, McDuffie added something to that which doesn’t exist in Doom.  I wonder if it stayed truer to the original story where Ra's Al Ghul was the villian instead of Vandal Savage, making it more personal to Batman (he's Bat's greatest villain, also featured in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins), if the movie would have been stronger.  Guess we won't ever really know. 

Don’t get me wrong though, this movie is good, but as Dwayne McDuffie’s last hurrah, I just wished it were better.

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9 Comments

  • Neziah | March 3, 2012 3:36 PMReply

    I just got done watching it and although I enjoyed it, I pretty much agree with your complaints. The first half was pretty intense and for a second I was actually on the edge of my seat because the League was losing badly, but once Batman re-enters the picture as a savior, it all goes downhill. Still, the action sequences were solid and the writing wasn't bad. I still think McDuffie deserved a better send-off, but this is at least better than his last two films. There's far less tedium in this one.

  • richard | February 29, 2012 8:18 PMReply

    I'm Glad i am not the only one disappointed by Doom. The artwork sucked. The dialogue was terrible and the fight sequences were not good. Lauren Montgomery is a wonderful director and producer, but she missed the mark with this. The new editor is no Margaret Hou, and even Andrea Romanos' voice direction was surprisingly off. Hope this was all just a fluke. McDuffie deserved better, RIP.

  • Solaam | February 29, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    RIP McDuffie. This was a horrible loss last year. Hopefully somebody will pick up the torch.

  • Joe Doughrity | February 28, 2012 8:41 PMReply

    Rest in peace, Brother Dwayne. You are sorely missed but definitely made your mark.

  • Ghost | February 28, 2012 6:56 PMReply

    Rent or buy the Blue Ray version of the DVD for the 37 minute story on McDuffie's life. If you want to inspire young black males that they can do anything if they try adn apply themselves. Use that. There were folks being interviewed on it that were crying including Phil Lamarr.

  • HarveyDent | February 28, 2012 2:00 PMReply

    I watched it last week and it was a good adaptation but not great. I have most of these movies in my collection because I'm a big fan of DC but I have to think that they may have plateaued. They're still high quality with the voice casting always top notch but the library needs to be opened up with lesser-known characters and teams like the Justice Society, Teen Titans, Captain Marvel, etc. getting the spotlight. I'll keep on buying the movies as they are released but Warners will need to step up the game a bit more but they'll never have another creator who will bring Mr. McDuffie's touch to a story. RIP.

  • T'Challa | February 28, 2012 1:06 PMReply

    I thought it was good, Ras Al Ghul would've been a better villain, but I thought it was solid through out. Waay better than "All Star Superman", not quite as good as "Crisis".

  • Tamara | February 28, 2012 12:48 PMReply

    Thanks for the review. Will be renting ASAP.

  • Neziah | February 28, 2012 11:43 AMReply

    Interesting review, I may or may not check this out soon. The only DC dtv films I've been impressed with lately are "Batman: Under the Red Hood" and "Batman: Year One". I'm afraid "All Star Superman" and "Justice League: Crisis of Two Earths" bored me to tears.

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