Directed by Dave Bullock
An ancient and mysterious being known as The Centre (voiced by Keith David) threatens the entire human race and only the DC Universe’s greatest heroes can stop it.
The New Frontier is an animated masterpiece. It is beautiful to look at and a fantastic story adapted from the limited series DC: The New Frontier with additional material by writer/artist Darwyn Cooke (who wrote and drew the limited series upon which it was based). This is a story that could only work being set in the 50s with the themes of fear and everything else they touch upon. The Korean War was over, and our nation was entering into a new consciousness. We were changing and this reinvention of characters from that time reflects that. Plus a creature like The Centre would not necessarily work in a present day set film story. It was definitely a throwback to the space creatures that populated the comic books of the time.
Superman (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan) was wisely taken out early on in the story. While he is a moral compass, his powers would have made the defeat of the creature far too easy. You could not have a character like Superman remain in this film and go up against The Centre and extend it out for an hour. Let alone extend it beyond 15 minutes. A threat like this is right up his alley.
In the story, The Centre is an ancient being that has existed within the earth for quite some time and now wishes to wipe out humanity (or lesser beings as it calls us). It corrupts and warps all those that it touches. It feeds on fear and hate and connects to those with mental abilities. These are dark concepts and this is a dark story for an animated film. This is one of DCs more mature offerings.
The characters are less nice and perhaps a little more human than they are in other offerings. Wonder Woman (voiced by Lucy Lawless) is struggling to find her place. Superman is trying to reconcile his ideals with the current state of the world. Green Lantern (David Boreanaz) is a damaged war vet. The Flash (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris) doubts his worth as a hero.
I particularly liked the interaction between Martian Manhunter (voiced by Miguel Ferrer) and King Faraday (Phil Morris). We did not get enough of it but what we got was a well-crafted demonstration of a reluctant relationship and a rare focus on the character of Martian Manhunter who usually gets relegated to supporting roles.
This is a darker version of the DC Comic Book Universe of the 1950s. Hal Jordan is a war veteran not sure of the war he fought in. The government is even at moments trying to capture the superpowered heroes that are on their side. Paranoia is so strong that they believe Mars is a threat and send Jordan and Rick Flag (Lex Lang) on a mission to investigate the threat and eliminate it with every horrible weapon you can imagine. These are things that just would not show up in the comics of the time.
The climactic ending was an all-out brawl with just about every classic DC hero you could imagine popping on the screen even if it was only for a few seconds per hero. I think they got just about everybody to make an appearance. One of the more pleasing brief appearances is of The Blackhawk Squadron who are a group of World War II era pilots that fight evil. I just really liked that one.
The plan to stop The Centre involves Ray Palmer’s (voiced by an uncredited Corey Burton) not quite perfected shrink ray and explosives detonated inside of it by Hal Jordan and Ace Morgan (John Heard). And the scenes inside of The Centre are psychedelic. That is the best way to describe them. They really drive home just how unique of a threat they are dealing with here.
Justice League: The New Frontier truly is a great DC animated feature. Probably one of their finest. There is a great deal of meat here that leaves you satisfied and makes you want to watch it again. You need to watch this.