Justice League vs the Fatal Five has enjoyable throwback elements, but grasps for mediocrity with its new lead heroes and underdeveloped villains. Fans of Bruce Timm, who created Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited will love the return of the nineties era characters. Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, and Susan Eisenberg return to voice Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The old guard kicks ass. It's the newbies that leaves the latest DC animated adventure lacking.
Justice League vs. The Fatal Five opens with a fierce battle in the thirtieth century. Mano (Philip Anthony-Rodriguez ), the half cyborg Tharok (Peter Jessop), and the slice 'em up Persuader (Matthew Yang King), steal a time travelling capsule. They escape to the present with Star Boy (Elyes Gabel) in tow. The trip doesn't go according to plan. The capsule is sealed and Star Boy, without his meds, has lost his memory.
Batman puts Star Boy in Arkham while the Justice League tries to figure out the capsule's origin. Meanwhile, young Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero) struggles with the horrific events that turned her into a Green Lantern. Limelight never wanted to be a part of the Green Lantern corps, nor can she handle her Power Ring. She is soon tested when the futuristic baddies escape into this time frame. The Fatal Five have her targeted for their nefarious plans.
Jessica Cruz has a decent origin story, but she never evolves into a compelling protagonist. She's pretty sappy until a head-scratching turnaround. The film needed to dig deeper into her acquisition of the Power Ring. Star Boy, a new character to me, has a similar problem. His trip to the past, initial encounter with Batman, and time at Arkham Asylum were interesting. Apparently Thursday is pudding day at the supervillain nuthouse. His character is put on the back burner when The Fatal Five breaks loose. Limelight and Star Boy never fulfill their potential as leads. The Justice League does the heavy lifting for the majority of the film.
The entertainment value comes from the Justice League greats battling it out with Mano, Tharok, and The Persuader. The two remaining members of The Fatal Five don't show up until the finale, and are honestly forgettable. Mano, with his disintegrating touch, is a handful. The film's high point is Mano's showdown with Batman. The Dark Knight proves again that even the most powerful enemies can be beaten with intellect. The Persuader's atomic axe is an awesome weapon. The Fatal Five aren't pushovers. The Justice League takes more than a few lumps.
Justice League vs. The Fatal Five isn't a strong entry in the DC animated universe, but worth seeing for the old school animation and classic Justice League characters. Sam Liu, directing his fourteenth feature in the series, brings the Bruce Timm era back to life. The story, by Supergirl television writer Eric Carrasco, didn't give enough heft or exposition to Limelight and Star Boy. Justice League vs. The Fatal Five is a production of Warner Bros. Animation. It is available for digital download now and will be released on DVD April 16th.