Superman on Television
DVD Review for "Justice League Unlimited: Saving the World"Reviewed by: Barry Freiman
Box/Disc Art - 1: The front of the box states volumes about the effort that goes into putting out a DVD. Smart marketers realize it's the last best chance to entice that coveted impulse purchase. So what does a box say that's loaded with stock house art that doesn't make logical sense and even presents obsolete images? When the set comes out just weeks after the beautiful first volume of "STAS", the cover art shows that little thought went into marketing what's erroneously seen by Warner Home Video ("WHV") as a kid's disc.
The "JLU" show skews higher than "Teen Titans" because the show is written to a more savvy comic reading audience, so slapping the "Kids Collection" label on the DVD may speak more to the kids at WHV who impulsively threw this collection out there than to the true audience for a "JLU" DVD.
Green Arrow can't fly, nor I suspect, can even the world's greatest archer shoot one of his trick arrows without a bow - yet there's the magical flying Green Arrow and his one-armed arrow trick.
Not to be outdone, Green Lantern John Stewart appears on the cover with his pre-Hawkgirl-scorned look, even though the butcher 2005 Stewart sports a shaved head and full van-dyke. (By the way, Mattel, I have the same complaint about you using that same obsolete stock art on the "JLU" action figure sets.)
Content - 3: There are three 22-minute episodes on this DVD, which would be more forgivable if retailers were actually selling the disc at the low US$9.95 price that WHV is recommending as a lowest starting price. But most retailers are listing the disc well on the flip-side of US$10.00, which makes this a tougher sell. Especially given the episodes included.
The three episodes are season-opener "Initiation"; the "Wonder Years" reunion episode, "Hawk and Dove"; and one of the most confusing and disappointing episodes of "JLU" to date, "Kid Stuff". These episodes aren't presented in the order they aired - they're episodes one, three, and four - and conspicuously absent is episode two, the standout "For the Man who has Everything." Inclusion of one more episode would not have overloaded this under-loaded release.
Video - 4: These are pretty transfers of fairly new 'toons. A widescreen presentation would have bumped the score up to a perfect five.
Audio - 4: Sounds good to me.
Extras - 2: The main consideration for me, given the newness of the series, were the extras. The series is too new and too valuable for Cartoon Network to not keep the series in rotation - though the decision not to air reruns for now, and thus increase demand for the DVD release (and a second "JLU" release has recently been announced for later in 2005) doesn't go unnoticed.
There are really only two extras actually pertinent to "JLU". First are the Martian Manhunter's Watchtower files on the new heroes headlined in the DVD - Green Arrow, Captain Atom, Supergirl, Hawk and Dove. If this is the only research J'onn maintains on new heroes admitted into the League, I'm not sure I wouldn't be on Amanda Waller's side calling for a Government response ready to take down a JLU out of control. Each short biography links to a brief montage of video clips of each hero in action. In the time it's taken you to read this paragraph, you'd be through half the hero files. Not to mention that the information provided is wholly similar to information publicly available on the same "JLU" members on the Cartoon Network website.
The second extra is a rather tedious game, "Save Gorilla City". The game title connotes something much more exciting than using the left and right arrows of your remote control in a car chase. Even old school "Pong" was more exciting.
The remainder of the extras have nothing to do with "JLU" or Superman - there's a trailer for a "Tom and Jerry" movie (a preview of the upcoming "Krypto" series would have been much more welcome), and two "Cartoon Monsoon" shorts.
Overall - 2: I can only recommend the disc to completists. A haphazard initial release usually means there's going to be follow-up. A perfect example - I'm sure I am not the only person who bought "Superman: Last Son of Krypton" when it came out on DVD last year, only to find that when WHV released the "STAS" first season set last month it included the three-part pilot.
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