My in-depth review on DC’s recently released animated film Justice League of America, Adventures: Trapped in Time. Read on after the jump for my verdict on this DCAU geared toward a much younger crowd and leave your thoughts in the usual place.


Justice League: Trapped In Time

General Information:
Released: January 21st, 2014 on DVD as a Target only Exclusive.
Opened: Not in Theaters
Metacritic: Not Yet Rated
Rotten Tomatoes Aggregated So Far: Nothing listed
IMDB Profile

Editorial Biases:
We all know this is not intended for most of us as older fans, or the hardcore fans. But I love sitting and enjoying these movies with my young children. I personally wouldn’t like this cheesier type of art used for our favorite heroes all the time, and it is (somewhat) dumbed down for pre-teen audiences. It is definitely intended to help draw them in as new viewers for the next generation of DC Comic readers and movie goers. I watched this with my kids and did not expect a whole lot (for myself), but I expected they would be vocal if they didn't like it. If I can turn it on and they are glued to it for the duration, it accomplished its goal.

The Good

It is relatively good wholesome fun with little to no consequence. I observed my two daughters watching this film (one of them seven, the other five years old). Both had the expected levels of laughs at some of the jokes, and very properly placed “Woah!” commentary. When Superman was erased from the timeline I was barraged by my kids’ questions and level of concern. For their little minds, the job was done properly. The level of violence was generally contained, and some of the best action was seen executed by Karate Kid and Robin, both shining as brightly as their costar, Dawnstar.

The Bad

While the story and the writing are geared toward a younger audience, the art doesn’t need to be cheesed for the same audience. I had to go back and pull some old Fatal Fury DVD’s to compare the art because it felt like a similar signature in art styles. That aside, I wasn’t a fan of the very awkward looking Superman. What is interesting to note, my children also didn’t like what he looked liked and kept stating “THAT’s Superman? Why is he so weird looking?” as they’d tilt their little heads like puppies trying to understand what is in front of them. Aquaman was also a bit strange. But I account his behavior to DC tossing him into the mix without having a solid purpose for him. Causing potentially new Aquaman fans to think he is just a random dude without any real weight. An example where his randomness occurs was pointed out by my seven year old before I noticed it. Near the end of the film, the team is at the swamp site of the Legions base, all of a sudden Aquaman is no longer there but in the middle of the Ocean saving a ship. I know this is for kids, and the nonsensical aspects are inconsequential; but if my kid notices it and says “Hey, when did Aquaman leave and go to the ocean?” I’m sure your kids may notice the same when they watch it…

Then again my kids are as nitpicky as I am with their comic book movies.

The Ugly

Now I am not an artist, I cannot create animation or art as seen on this film. I work with wonderful artists all the time and I’m awed by their skills. That said, The art in this is just awful. I really didn’t like this art, what I’d call “Cheap Animation” (If it’s actually not cheap and Is considered high end, oh well). My kids immediately after this put on Flashpoint Paradox, and followed it up with Under The Red Hood, "we like this one better daddy!" Today they are playing Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, they like running around saying “If it’s a whoopin’ you’re a wantin’!” It’s very easy to see how JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time tests among children's palettes. Especially if those kids have already watched any of the previous DCAU films and series.

I do sometimes wonder why DC/WB goes with so many variations of the same thing. It’s as if they are constantly testing the water to find the perfect mix of characters, art, voices, and story. I’d hate to see anymore DCAU films done in this art style, even if it is simply intended for my kids and others like them. Give them the good stuff, don’t be cheap, they deserve it!

The Great

It was a ton of fun, very easy to enjoy, because I watched my kids enjoy the story and their genuine concern for their favorite characters. The story idea was interesting and not tethered to any existing DC Comic.

…and, Amazing?

I can’t say anything really stood out as amazing…but, I find that films like this try and keep these characters down to earth and accessible for a new generation to enjoy, this effort to me is amazing. Especially in the absence of any DC/WB series. For us in the older crowd, it is yet another “new” 52 minute (irony) Justice League fix.

What Might have Hurt This Film…

The fact that it’s specifically created for a younger crowd, marketed and sold only in Target stores is one particular problem. While that hurts it as a serious JL animated feature it is still not really a serious take on the team and their current pulse. This is a throwback to the 70’s (somewhat). Personally Flashpoint had done a much better job intermixing characters from yesteryear.

In my opinion, as a father of two small children, if DC/WB wants to market this directly into the hands of children and preteens; it needs to be available digitally on Itunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. My kids love watching movies on their Ipads and on their PS3/Wii’s Netflix. While Target is a great way to exclusively sell this title, it’s not one (I imagine) many of us will hunt down to pick up, until we remember to do so. Giving it less of a sales boom then DC/WB would probably want or expect. Making this one generally a title parents buy for their kids - the impulse buy from a child grabbing it off the shelf and sneaking it into the cart (Don’t deny it, we’ve all done that when we were kids). Leaving the curiosity open to those of us, out here, in the land of the internet, to pirate copies before ever buying it (if at all).

Overall Verdict?

I bought this one for my kids, and I enjoyed it because they enjoyed it. I got to have dialogue with them, as is usual whenever they watch a new comic book movie. I got to help them understand the characters, who they were, and what they could do. That was the fun factor for me. If you are a parent (and of course a comic book fan), this is a good entry for your kids, no matter how young. If you are a hardcore fan of the comics, you’ll enjoy some of it, because you are a fan. But you may not enjoy the art style, some of the voice work was irritably bad (Batman, Toyman, Lex, etc.) However some voicing veterans made it great like Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Dante Basco, and Grey Delisle. I’m also a completist, so it had to be in our collection either way. Make of that what you will.

My kids gave it a 4 out of five nerd babies loving it, I give it a 3 out of five geeks loving it. Giving us a combined average of 3.5 out of 5

Have you seen Justice League of America: Trapped In Time yet? Are you planning to? Did this review help you? Do you agree, disagree? I want to hear from you! Comment, share, tweet, pin, whatever tickles your fancy. Form some words @EmanuelFCamacho

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