Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The New Frontier: The Review

So I was bound to be disappointed after how much I was looking forward to this DVD, and I have to admit I am. As is quite apt to happen, the source material is far, far better. But this movie did not suck in the slightest. It was a very good time, only it was far too short, clocking in at only 70ish minutes.

This is the problem with this new series of direct to DVD releases from DC, they are far too short and lose the expansive, epic nature of the source material. The Superman: Doomsday film was whittled down from 3 extremely large TPBs which stared nearly every hero in the DC universe, to a quite boring 80ish minute version bereft of any other hero. It took Superman out of his world and inserted him into a fairly bad cartoon version of it. The Death of Superman is the best selling graphic novel of all time. There is/was certainly an audience for this movie, but the implementation of it was extraordinarily weak.

The New Frontier does not suffer the same fate. This is an extremely fun movie that captures the core essence of the book, it just does not feel complete. There are so many story lines going on here that any of them could have easily been expanded on without making this film lopsided. The Martian Manhunter is easily the soul of the book. His story of wanting to get home and giving it up to save earth highlights the true nature of heroism. And while the film does not short him as much as a few other characters, his story here just does not seem complete. It is as if his journey starts sputteringly then bang he is at his destination, almost as if Dorthy's house were to have fallen on the witch, some munchkins sang her a song and then she woke up in her bed. And really his journey fails as it was so contextual to the development of the history behind the the story in the book. His newspaper clippings, provided a window into the snowballing ills of the time. The ills that called for heroes and heroism. Not following this thread also forced the view to miss out on one of the most powerful pieces in the book, the story of John Henry Irons. And while there is a brief mention of his fate in the film, the power of his story is lost. That said, the changes they made to the storyline to pare down the story mostly work extremely well. Forgoing the tale of The Losers sadly made a lot of sense. And framing the story around the creation of a comic book was a spark of genius.

The voice actors were above competent and the art and design flawless. I can easily see watching it again, and really look forward to the extras on the DVD. I just really think it calls out to be longer. And to repeat a previous critique, why was this not released theaters?

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