DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Sam Liu
Benjamin Bratt, Michael C. Hall, Tamara Taylor
Writing Credits:
Alan Burnett

In an alternate universe, very different versions of DC's Trinity fight against the government after they are framed for an embassy bombing.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 7/28/2015

• Sneak Peek at Batman: Bad Blood
• “Alternate Realities: Infinite Possibilities” Featurette
&bull: “Calculated Risks: The Making of Gods and Monsters” Featurette
• “The New Gods” Featurette
• Two Bonus Cartoons
• Trailers
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Justice League: Gods and Monsters [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 21, 2015)

For the latest DC Comics direct-to-video animated film, we get 2015’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters. In this “alternate universe” tale, we start with the destruction of Krypton. This time, evil General Zod (voiced by Bruce Thomas) supplants Jor-El (Yuri Lowenthal) as the father of the child who will eventually become Superman.

After a quick view of what happens to the baby when he arrives on Earth, we meet an adult Superman (Benjamin Bratt) along with cohorts Batman (Michael C. Hall) and Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor). Those three constitute this universe’s Justice League, though they operate in a wholly different manner than the traditional crew, as they execute “justice” in a brutal way.

Because of this, the JL earns a lot of enemies. Someone starts to murder brilliant scientists and the JL gets framed for these crimes. We follow their efforts to get to the bottom of matters.

Prior to Monsters, my most recent experience with a new DC cartoon came from Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts, a light-hearted effort meant for a fairly young audience. Monsters goes in the other direction, as it clearly opts for a more mature take on its subject matter.

This leads to a “PG-13” rating – which I believe would be “R” if Monsters had been live-action. It comes with lots of bloody violence, some profanity and even a bit of nudity. A “PG-13” cartoon gets away with material that would make a live-action flick “R”-rated, and I think that occurs here.

While I understand the need for the more kid-oriented efforts like Animal Instincts, I prefer the darker, more adult tone found in projects such as Monsters. Unfortunately, the end result doesn’t do much for me, as Monsters delivers a surprisingly dull adventure.

Some of the problems stem from the film’s structure. While Monsters opens with Superman’s “origin story”, we don’t find out how this universe’s Batman and Wonder Woman came to be until midway into the movie.

I understand the rationale for this choice, as I assume the filmmakers believed three “origin stories” at the beginning would be too much. And they’re probably right, but I still think the placement of the Batman and Wonder Woman backstories harms the narrative’s pacing and flow. Matters grind to a halt so we can flash back to those characters’ pasts, and it just doesn’t work.

Perhaps I wouldn’t mind these digressions so much if the basic plot fared better. Unfortunately, the story behind Monsters never gets going. For a project with fairly grand ambitions, the basic tale seems awfully mundane, and the movie doesn’t explore it well.

Alternate universe projects come with amazing possibilities, but Monsters doesn’t exploit these in a satisfying way. Usually I enjoy this sort of material, but the movie’s versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the others never become engaging. Though they’re intriguing in theory, they never turn into interesting personalities, and the blandness of the lead roles harms the product.

All of this makes Gods and Monsters a definite disappointment. While not a bad film, it seems slow and leaden too much of the time. It never becomes a good alternate universe effort.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Justice League: Gods and Monsters appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, the image looked positive.

Only a smidgen of softness appeared, and that was result of the inexpensive source animation. Overall accuracy varied from very good to excellent, with an emphasis on the latter. No issues with shimmering or jaggies materialized, and I saw no edge haloes or noise reduction. Of course, I found no print flaws here.

In terms of colors, Monsters went with a stylized look. It tended toward low-key tones and favored a fairly teal appearance much of the time. The colors seemed fine, as they represented their intended schemes. Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows looked smooth and clear. This wasn’t a great image but it was very good.

When I examined the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Monsters, it created a fine sense of action. The movie packed a lot of battles and involving material, and it used the five channels to impart that information in a lively manner. Explosions and fights filled the channels to create a full spectrum, and quieter elements fleshed out the room as well.

Across the board, the material sounded good. Speech remained distinctive and concise, without edginess, and music seemed vivid and full. Effects appeared accurate and tight, with clear highs and some powerful lows. All in all, the mix worked nicely.

As we shift to the set’s extras, we launch with a Sneak Peek at Batman: Bad Blood. This goes for 11 minutes, 45 seconds and includes comments from producer James Tucker, director Jay Oliva, DC Entertainment Animation creative director Mike Carlin, and actors Jason O’Mara, Yvonne Strahovski, Ernie Hudson, and Gaius Charles. We learn about story/characters as well as cast and performances. This serves to promote the movie and that’s about it.

Three featurettes follow. Alternate Realities: Infinite Possibilities runs 19 minutes, 24 seconds and offers remarks from Carlin, DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio, executive producer Bruce Timm, co-producer Alan Burnett, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis writer Heath Corson, and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. The program reflects on alternate realities in DC comics throughout the years as well as their connection to Monsters. Though not exhaustive, of course, this becomes a nice overview of the different “fantasy” tales.

Next comes the 23-minute, 37-second Calculated Risks: The Making of Gods and Monsters. It features Timm, Burnett, Carlin, and Johns. We learn about the project’s development as well as story/characters and design choices. “Risks” covers a good variety of film-related topics in a concise, informative manner.

The New Gods occupies 22 minutes, 13 seconds and provides notes from DiDio, Timm, The Great Darkness Saga writer Paul Levitz, comic book historian Alan Kistler, writer/artist Walter Simonson, and DCE Creative Affairs SVP Gregory Noveck. “Gods” gives us a basic biography of comic book legend Jack Kirby before it tells us the origins of Darkseid and others. It’s a good little synopsis of these issues.

We also get two Bonus Cartoons. We find the “Phantoms” episode of Legion of Siiperheroes (22:25) and “Brave New Metropolis” from Superman: The Animated Series (21:19). Both offer alternate universe tales, and “Brave” is easily the better of the two.

The disc opens with ads for Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem, Scooby-Doo and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and Lego Dimensions. Trailers includes promos for Teen Titans Go!, The Man from UNCLE and Batman Vs. Robin.

The package also includes a DVD copy of Monsters. This comes with the preview of Bad Blood and a few trailers but lacks any other extras.

With an intriguing “alternate universe” premise, Justice League: Gods and Monsters looked like it’d offer a good adventure. Unfortunately, it suffers from pacing problems as well as a generally dull narrative. The Blu-ray offers solid picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements. I want to like Monsters but it leaves me cold too much of the time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main