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JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time [Review]


jlaadventurestrappedintimedvd_0129While I’m not thrilled at the idea of the “classic” (for me, this means 1986-2011) DC stories being scrapped in favor of New-52-centric stories being adapted for DC‘s line of direct-to-home-media release, I’ve been looking forward to Justice League: War for awhile, if only just to see how they adapt the story to the screen, given it seemed like basically a lengthy fight scene to me when I read it.

There was no Fall 2013 new release (instead, we got a “special edition” that combined Dark Knight Returns parts 1 & 2 into a single feature)…so I’ve been looking forward to the next NEW film for quite awhile.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I came across JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time while browsing a Target Sunday evening. At first I mistook it for another Superfriends release, yet it had the “classic” JLA logo I’m familiar with from the ’90s/early-2000s, so it got my curiosity up. Target‘s had that “exclusive” line of DC figures under the Justice League branding; so I may have partially wondered if this was a new line of “re-presenting” Superfriends episodes through Target.

But according to the box, it was an original animated movie, albeit Target-exclusive. I wrestled with leaving it–after all, I’d NOT been looking forward to THIS one, and I’ve never been a fan of the Superfriends stuff, so I put it back. Then I picked it up again. And ultimately bought it along with my groceries and such.

In broad strokes, this reminded me of those mini comics that came in boxes of cereal several years back…fun enough, familiar-looking characters, passable stuff that’s fun as something different, but by no means anything special.

I liked the animation well enough…it wasn’t anything phenomenal, but it wasn’t terrible. My primary “issue” with the animation has to do with the character designs themselves–what fault I may have found with the animation probably comes more from this aspect.

The costumes are a blend of preNew 52 and current…Superman’s lacks the ugly collar-and-armor look BUT has the red belt in place of the trunks. Truthfully–I have no issue here as I don’t know if I would have noticed if I’d not been looking for it.

Bizarro and Cheetah looked “off” a bit, while Black Manta, Grodd, and others looked ok enough. Luthor looks like a sleeker, higher quality rendition of something pre-1986 to me, or at least what I unconsciously associate with that earlier period.

Story-wise, this is fairly typical fare for superhero shenanigans. Heroes beat the villains, villains use time-travel to change a key moment in history and thus undo the heroes; “b-list” heroes not affected by the time change (um…wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey stuff) must emerge and put things right.

The use of the Time Trapper here is probably the most accessible version I’ve encountered of the character. Rather than being a known villain of the Legion of Super-Heroes or such, he’s just an entity released from an artifact in the LoS’ museum a la a genie from a bottle. Granted, this makes him/it more of a plot point than any sort of character with any depth, it works for the story. I’m sure my own lack of experience with the Legion–they’re a definite blind spot in my experiential DC knowledge–lends itself to my ready acceptance of this interpretation of the character, where those far more familiar with Legion stuff may well take issue with it.

I didn’t recognize any of the voice actors offhand…but this honestly doesn’t bother me at all. Perhaps largely for not even expecting this movie and having no vested interest in its particular version of the characters (it’s not based on/adapting anything I’m familiar with specifically nor is it a continuation of the ’90s Batman, Superman, or Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series or previous direct-to-home-media film).

Since I’m not expecting the “traditional” voice actors for Superman, Batman, or Luthor and had no expectations for any of the other characters, I took stuff at “face value,” wherein all voices fit if only for the fact that none of them particularly DIDN’T fit; no one “sounded weird” to me or had odd voices coming from an otherwise familiar appearance.

In the end, this is–to me–a rather mediocre thing, though. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful. Ultimately it’s rather forgettable. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time is enjoyable in the moment, having watched it…but on the whole it doesn’t strike me as anything worth rushing out to buy. A rental would be an adequate way of scratching any “curiosity itch” one has regarding this for now.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for the review- based on your review, I bought the flick- I figured I know enough youngsters getting into the JLA for the first time that if I didn’t care for it, I could “re-gift” it- and was pleasantly surprised. It IS pretty much a straight-up “Superfriends”-style flick- not a whole lot of character development for the heroes, but fun action sequences, and it really captured the fun feel of those ’80s cartoons I grew up watching. If you listen closely, you might recognize Diedrich Bader as Batman- he voiced the character in “Batman: Brave and the Bold,” and the voice actor (whose name escapes me for the moment, sorry) for the Flash was the same one who did Wally West/Kid Flash in “Young Justice.”

    The Superman costume used in this flick was “Man of Steel” outfit sported by Henry Cavill in the recent film, not the new 52 suit- I almost mistook it for the new 52 “Earth Two” Supersuit, but it’s not quite the same. Probably an executive decision to draw in new fans of the Cavill film.

    This isn’t as you said, really aimed at an adult fan market, more at budding kid comics fans, and more power too them for doing it. I’d really get into an ongoing movie series in the vien, if they wanted to give us more “JLA Adventures,” I’d pick ’em up.

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