JUSTICE LEAGUE: JUSTICE ON TRIAL
Soon as JUSTICE LEAGUE debuted on Cartoon Network, I was pretty much hooked. Being a superhero loving comic book fan since childhood, I was glad to see the television incarnations of these characters were finally being handled in an intelligent fashion, instead of being "dumbed down" for TV, as they had been in the past. Starting with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, superheroes were finally getting their due on the small screen. SUPERMAN, and BATMAN: BEYOND carried this concept forward, with JUSTICE LEAGUE being the latest incarnation of this matured form of American television animation.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: JUSTICE ON TRIAL ($20) is Warner Home Video’s second release of episodes from the series, and while I am glad to see the show coming to DVD, there are a couple of issues that I’d like to raise. First, all television programming should come in entire season boxed sets. Second, JUSTICE LEAGUE is broadcast in wide screen half the time, and wide screen is the preferred format of the series' creators, so everyone would be best served if the DVD releases offered the shows in the 16:9 enhanced versions. These odd home video choices almost make it seems as if this intelligent animated show was being "dumbed down" for DVD release.
Four actual episodes of JUSTICE LEAGUE are included on the DVD, although each episode is only half of a two-part story. Blackest Night Part One and Part Two follows the Justice League’s efforts to discover why Green Lantern John Stewart stands accused of destroying an alien world and its three billion inhabitants. The Enemy Below Part One and Part Two brings the Justice League in conflict with a highly territorial Aquaman, who has sank a nuclear submarine that ventured into his undersea domain of Atlantis. JUSTICE LEAGUE features the vocal talents of Maria Canals, Susan Eisenberg, Phil LaMarr, Carl Lumbly, George Newbern, Kevin Conroy and Michael Rosenbaum.
Warner Home Video has made JUSTICE LEAGUE: JUSTICE ON TRIAL available on DVD in a full screen presentation, something that is appropriate to certain Cartoon Network broadcasts, but as I stated above, does not reflect the intentions of the series creators. As for the 4:3 presentation itself, it looks great- definitely a step up from your typical cable or satellite airing of the show. The image appears crisp and clean, as well as being as well defined as 2D television animation is capable of being. JUSTICE LEAGUE is a pretty colorful show and hues of varying intensities are rendered without flaws. Black appear pure and the whites are always clean. This being a brand new show, there are no discernable flaws in the image. Digital compression artifacts remain well concealed throughout.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: JUSTICE ON TRIAL is offered on DVD with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. This is a very good sounding track, especially for animated television fare. As one might expect, the forward soundstage dominates the mix, with the rears providing ambient and musical fill, as well as some minor effects. Most forms of directionality remain within the stereo imaging of the front hemisphere. Dialogue is cleanly rendered, with a very precise sound and fully intelligibility. French and Spanish stereo tracks and a Portuguese monaural track are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
The basic interactive menus provide one with access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Producer/director Bruce Timm is on hand for introductions to each episode, something I wish would go on just a bit longer. Justice League Watchtower provides biographical information for the members of the Justice League- a Hero File option offers clips of the JL members in action. The Look Of The League is a four-minute program featuring Bruce Timm, who discusses the show's character design. Lastly, I.D. is an interactive game that tests how closely one has watched the episodes contained on the DVD.
As a JUSTICE LEAGUE fan, I am happy the show is being released on DVD, although I wish Warner would do a boxed set of episodes in 16:9 enhanced wide screen. Still, the DVDs look and sound quite good, so fans will probably want to give them a spin.
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