Darkness, mystery, legend – these are the whispers that echo through time regarding Atlantis. A kingdom long since forgotten to surface dwellers, it is here that a hidden empire teeters on the brink of war. When a military submarine traversing this remote domain is attacked, Cyborg plunges to the murky depths to investigate the wreckage. What he encounters is a threat powerful enough to rally together the newly formed Justice League. Meanwhile, thousands of feet above the ocean floor wanders the lone drifter Arthur Curry, a man with strange powers who may be the last chance to bridge the ancient Atlantean world and our own. Join Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League as they face off against Orm, otherworldly weapons and perilous odds. It’s an all-new, epic chapter from the DC Universe in which mankind’s only hope from the darkness rests upon the guiding light of a man – Aquaman!

While many of DC Entertainment’s animated movies took place in their own respective worlds, last year’s Justice League: War changed that. It spawned a new animated universe based on the New 52, with two movies a year being set in this world. As teased in War‘s post-credits scene, a sequel has adapted the acclaimed “Throne of Atlantis” story arc. The twist? Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, unlike the comic book, serves as an origin story for Aquaman. The movie creates a new mission for the Justice League that intersects with Arthur Curry’s journey to becoming the King of the Seas. So, how does DC’s latest animated adventure fare?

Throne of Atlantis is more successful than War when it comes to developing its characters. Characters such as Cyborg and, of course, Aquaman himself have interesting story arcs in the movie. Heavy hitters like Batman and Superman are not given as much focus as before, but since the two headline nearly DC movie, it is a refreshing change. I also greatly preferred the Man of Steel’s characterization in “Throne of Atlantis” over his role in “Origin,” and thankfully, that transition from the comics is the same for the movies. Flash is also more likable this time around, while Shazam sticks out like a sore thumb within the film’s overall story. The fact that the majority of his dialogue was cringe-worthy doesn’t help. It would have been better if he was left out of the movie, like how Flash was absent in the comic arc.

Another issue I had with Throne of Atlantis was the rushed development of Superman and Wonder Woman’s romance. I thought it was developed too quickly in War, but in this movie, the iconic kiss between the two takes place within the first few minutes. I would have preferred if this scene was somewhere in the third act, giving more growth to their relationship. The scene also stuck out a little in the editing, and pushing it to later on in the movie would have smoothed the pacing. The scene where the two go on a date was well-done, but again, the romance feels a bit forced and needed more time to develop.

Otherwise, however, I really liked the story in Throne of Atlantis. It was great to finally see Aquaman front and center in a DC film, and watching his origin story unfold was enjoyable. The political tensions between Queen Atlanna and her son Orm in Atlantis were rather fascinating, with Orm urging his mother to declare war on the surface dwellers before taking matters into his own hand. Black Manta is an exciting addition to the movie, and his battle with Aquaman will make fans geek out. The animation, as usual, is stunning, with the Atlantis scenes being particularly unique on a visual level. It was also cool to see the Trench making their animated debut in this film.

The voice acting in Throne of Atlantis is also an improvement over War‘s. Matt Lanter does a great job bringing Aquaman to life, while Sumalee Montano is good as his queen-to-be, Mera. Sam Witwer is solid as Orm, but I would have preferred a little less shouting from his vocal performance. Jason O’Mara and Christopher Gorham are both good as Batman and Flash, respectively.  Shemar Moore is better as Cyborg than in the last movie, but his voice still sounds older than what I’d imagine from Victor Stone. Rosario Dawson is an improvement over Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman, while Nathan Fillion playing Green Lantern is always perfect. Jerry O’Connell is pretty good as Superman, doing a better job than Alan Tudyk. However, I think it would have been better if they switch the voice actors for Superman and Steve Trevor (who is played by George Newbern; ironically, he has voiced Superman in many animated shows and movies). Sean Astin was good as Shazam in War, but his performance is weaker in Throne of Atlantis. I think that has more to do with the character’s writing than the actor himself. And Harry Lennix is excellent as the villainous Black Manta.

The DC Universe connections in Throne of Atlantis are very cool. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen make memorable cameos, while a certain Man of Iron seeing Superman in action for the first time will thrill fans. And that post-credits scene will surely increase anticipation for the next movie, which will likely be a part of DC’s 2016 animated slate. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

In conclusion, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is the best movie in the new DC Animated Universe to date. Featuring stunning animation, an interesting story and enjoyable characters, it is an action-packed adventure that should please DC fans. Followers of Aquaman in particular will enjoy this installment, as it finally puts the spotlight on the King of Atlantis and shows the potential of his world. The movie has some flaws, such as rushed development for some characters, but it still stands out. I look forward to seeing this universe continue to grow.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.

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