Please enjoy this first draft of my review of that JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time DVD.

§ January 24th, 2014 § Filed under cartoons, justice league, movie reviews § 8 Comments


So I was clued in by one of Johanna’s recent posts that there was a new Justice League animated feature that was going to be available exclusively at Target stores, which seemed to come as a surprise to pretty much everybody. According to this interview with the director, there was a desire for a DC superhero cartoon that maybe skewed a little younger than the usual DC Direct films that could be marketed alongside the toylines, and this was the result.

They really want you to know that this is an “original movie,” since it not only tells you so in a blurb directly printed under the title, but this sticker is affixed to the front of the package as well:

And this sticker is slapped on the box too, reminding you about Superman’s 75th anniversary last year:

As for the cartoon itself…it’s entertaining enough, with plenty of superhero versus supervillain action and a simplistic time-travel plot. The Legion of Super-Heroes are involved, kinda sorta, with Dawnstar and Karate Kid as two potential members of that future super-team who find themselves in the present day, trying to prevent Lex Luthor from using Legion villain the Time Trapper to destroy the Justice League. Dawnstar is given, in addition to her traditional super-tracking powers, some kind of magical glowy energy-healing ability that seems to primarily exist to provide a quick ending to the climactic battle of the movie. Karate Kid’s ability to spot structural flaws are given enough of a flourish to be a visually-interesting super power, and his martial arts skills are given a good showcase in a battle with Robin.

The character designs are New 52-inspired, with too many seams and not enough red trunks:

…though Superman doesn’t have that terrible collar, which is a plus. Bizarro does have red pants in this cartoon, in case you were worried. I should note that Superman’s design, from his costume to his facial features, do fluctuate somewhat throughout the feature, which is a little distracting.

One of the major highlights in the story is when everybody time travels back to Smallville, with the villains attempting to prevent the Kents from rescuing baby Kal-El, and the heroes trying to keep history on track. It’s a very funny, slightly surreal sequence as the good guys and bad guys play keep-away with Baby Kal, who is repeatedly referred to as “Superbaby.” This Silver Age fan approves.

While mostly enjoyable, if slight, there are some minor quibbles with the film, such as Robin’s characterization as a bit of a petulant child (meant to be comic relief, and probably funny to the target (heh) audience, but may grate on old people like you and me). Plus, the Time Trapper’s ultimate gambit, to apparently…wreck stuff around Earth with time vortices, I guess? — doesn’t seem like much of a final battle beyond giving heroes one last action scene to show off their stuff.

One surprising positive: this dude shows up, and though my initial reaction was “oh, no,” he’s actually one of the more entertaining parts of the film:

Yup, that’s the jester-ish Toyman from the ’70s Super Friends cartoons, redesigned into apparently being some kind of robot-toy-thing himself:

…and a brief shot of a display in a 31st century museum gives us his extremely depressing fate:

The original Toyman of the ’70s cartoons was mostly just annoying. I want to know more about this Toyman, who is less annoying and more creepy and / or goofy.

Bonus features on this disc include two of the original Super Friends episodes, both involving some kind of time travel, and I haven’t watched them yet because I’m sure I’ve seen them before and therefore they have already stolen away enough of my life.

Overall it’s a fun cartoon, despite some minor issues, and hopefully will lead to more all-ages original animated features based on DC properties. …By which of course I mean “Swamp Thing.”

8 Responses to “Please enjoy this first draft of my review of that JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time DVD.”

  • Jer says:

    Okay, this actually looks fun. I might have to pick this up the next time I’m in Target for my son.

    One thing though – to the heroes always look as pissed off as they do in that screen shot above? Or do they occasionally smile? Because angry Superman, grumpy Batman, and hostile Wonder Woman are kind of a downer.

    Especially grumpy Superman who isn’t wearing pants. Perhaps that’s why he’s grumpy? He’s sitting there thinking “Why is it that Bruce gets to wear pants and here I am in these stupid tights and a belt? I should have some pants. I feel really damn exposed in this outfit. Maybe Didio will let me wear a kilt or something – I really need to renegotiate that contract…”

    (But I might get it for Robot Toyman alone. My 6yo has been watching Superfriends and destroying my childhood memories one episode at a time. But crazy almost Starscream-like voiced Toyman is actually kind of trippy. Along with hoarse-voiced Brainiac you get glimmers of a show that is almost watchable for adults in there. The 6yo loves it, though, which is what counts.)

  • Snark Shark says:

    they used the JLA logo from the Morrison years? Kind of odd.

    “and a brief shot of a display in a 31st century museum gives us his extremely depressing fate”


  • Willy Lee says:

    Robin is so over the top aggravating I wonder if he’s meant to be Damian. Don’t get me wrong I like Robin (and Damian) but sheee-oot this brat needs to a spanking.

  • Adam says:

    So this Robin didn’t leave you whelmed? A ha ha ha ha ha!

    (I loved Young Justice, but God, Robin was rough in that first season.)

  • Ray Cornwall says:

    That “adventures” bit on the JLA logo is going to give Todd Klein a seizure if he ever sees it.

  • The Mutt says:

    Great design on the Wonder Woman. costume.

  • Chad says:

    That sounds like a great idea. I watched the Flashpoint movie the other day, and there was plenty of blood, killing and mutilation with sharp-edged weapons — a little over the top for my tastes, including a Hard Boiled-esque gunshot through someone’s head, but to each his own.

    I purchased it from the kids’ movie section of Target, though, and while I knew what I was buying, DC might want to give their retail partner a heads-up that some of these films have no business being racked alongside Scooby-Doo.

  • David Z. says:

    I haven’t seen the movie, but from the screengrabs and your description it sounds like maybe they based Toyman on the Alex Ross design from the JUSTICE maxiseries a while back. It was easier to find good pictures of the action figure than it was to find images from the comics: