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Warner Home Video presents
Justice League: Justice on Trial (2003)

"We all need to be held accountable; we have too much power not to be."
- Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: April 20, 2003

Stars: George Newbern, Michael Rosenbaum, Kevin Conroy, Phil LaMarr, Maria Canals, Susan Eisenberg
Other Stars: Scott Rummell, Carl Lumbly
Director: Butch Lukic, Dan Riba

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for all audiences)
Run Time: 1h:27m:20s
Release Date: April 22, 2003
UPC: 085392395323
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-B+ C+

DVD Review

Protecting the world from all types of evil plots, the Justice League of America continues to fight countless villains and protect the innocent. This current incarnation includes Superman, Batman, The Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, The Flash, and Martian Manhunter. Containing a pair of two-part episodes, Justice League: Justice on Trial provides an entertaining experience while not dumbing down the material for small children. Following the tremendous success of their recent Batman and Superman shows, Warner Bros has scored once again with this compelling animated series.

In Blackest Night (Parts One and Two)
"There is no excuse for this horror, and there can be no escape from punishment. An example must be made." - Prosecutor

This intriguing two-part tale places Green Lantern on trial for the destruction of an entire planet, killing three billion people. While his actions do not seem intentional, our hero must stand trial for this horrible incident. First, the robotic Manhunters have to capture him on Earth, which does not sit well with his Justice League comrades. Once the Green Lantern is apprehended, the trial commences and does not seem to be going well for him. Meanwhile, Superman and the Martian Manhunter search for a possibly devious plot to destroy our hero.

Having not viewed The Justice League before, I was immediately struck by the competent writing and serious tone of this episode. While we do get some comic relief from Flash, the overall atmosphere does not become shallow in any way. This change of pace from many past cartoons is especially refreshing and allows for greater character development. In addition, the heroes do take punishment and are not as perfect as one might expect. These alterations and a nicely developed story make this two-part episode a remarkable experience.

The Enemy Below (Parts One and Two)
"Now is the time for mighty Atlantis to rise up and strike terror into the heart of its enemies." - Orm

While patrolling the deep seas, the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Defiant is crippled by a hostile craft from Atlantis, the kingdom of Aquaman. When the Justice League arrives to save the stranded sailors, they face serious resistance from Aquaman and his army. Is a full-scale war between the surface dwellers and Atlantis approaching? On the insistence of Superman, Aquaman journeys to the surface and attempts to negotiate a deal with the World Assembly. After failing to sway them, an unknown assailant tries to murder him. Has his brother Orm (Richard Green) betrayed Aquaman and tried to have him killed? The answers all become clear in an excellent two-part episode.

The Aquaman of my memory is a wimpy, "talk-to-the-animals" type of hero who glides through the waters and rarely engages in any tough battles. This version, however, is a rough guy with a full beard who refuses to take gruff from anyone. Derived from a newer version in DC Comics, this Aquaman is a fierce and more interesting character. Once again, the depth of this story is top-notch and leads to a fast-paced and energetic tale.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Justice League appears in its original 1.33:1 full-frame transfer and offers a clear, pristine picture. The bright colors and superb animation leap from the small screen and help to create an excellent viewing experience. Virtually zero defects exist on the transfer, and I couldn't really ask for anything more considering the technological limitations of its television origins.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanish, and Portugueseno

Audio Transfer Review: This stereo transfer represents a significant improvement over the version initially released on the television. While the sounds remain centralized and are limited by their origins, this still is a worthwhile transfer. Significant force emanates from the central speakers, and it helps to convey a more powerful listening experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Episode Introductions with Producer/Director Bruce Timm
  2. Justice League Watchtower
  3. I.D. Game
Extras Review: Each Justice League episode features a brief but informative introduction from producer/director Bruce Timm. These run for about two minutes and discusses the creators' plans for the classic comic book characters. Timm is very open and addresses issues that directly relate to the episodes presented. He also provides insights into the look of each of the Justice League characters in "The Look of the Justice League." This four-minute featurette quickly covers each individual, and Timm openly talks about any alterations made to the usual designs.

The Justice League Watchtower provides brief audio descriptions of each hero that are accompanied by text about their specific powers. Video highlight reels run for about 30 seconds and showcase some classic moments for each member.

Finally, the I.D. game provides simple clues and a logo for each hero. If you've watched the episodes or know much about comics, this should be an easy task. Winning brings congratulations but no additional extra features.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

I recently viewed a Superfriends DVD release from Warner Bros that incorporated many of the same heroes from the Justice League. Created in 1978, it was a fun show but also was limited by dull writing and cornball dialogue. Luckily, the Justice League: Justice on Trial avoids these pitfalls and is a show that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. The animation is top-notch, and the characters remain true to the original comic-book visions.


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