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‘Doom’ is the 13th film in the DC Animated Original films by the creative team behind the magnificent shows ‘Batman: The Animated Series’, ‘Superman: The Animated Series’, ‘Batman Beyond’, ‘Justice League’, and ‘Justice League Unlimited.’ The movie also reunites nearly all of the original cast from the Justice League cartoon series, making it both an exciting new adventure and a nostalgic trip into the past.
The film tells the tale of power-hungry immortal Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) stealing encrypted files from the supercomputer of Batman, that contain contingency plans for neutralizing each member of the Justice League, if they ever go rogue. Savage employs each of the team member’s arch nemeses: Cheetah for Wonder Woman, Star Sapphire for Green Lantern, Metallo for Superman, Bane for Batman, Mirror Master for The Flash, and Ma’alefa’ak for the Martian Manhunter.
The villains execute these plans in order to eliminate the Justice League, so that Savage can put a larger plan in the works, allowing him total world domination. As expected, the voice acting is simply off the charts. Kevin Conroy, the original voice of Batman in the 1992 animated series, holds the record for most performances of the Dark Knight, as he has played Bruce Wayne at least eighteen times in his career.
He brings the perfect amount of darkness, depth, pain, and drive to the Caped Crusader, which is especially important because this movie thrives on Batman’s decision to make a plan to stop his most trusted friends. He is by far the most talented voice actor of the bunch, and shows every bit of suffering that Batman goes through, as he fights to stop villains from killing his friends and taking over the world.
Superman is played by another veteran, Tim Daly, who has voiced the Kryptonian for many years as well, starting with ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ and continuing in several other animated films. His compassionate voice solidifies the friendship he shares with Batman and the other members of the League, and adds a layer of emotion over the film that is hard to resist.
Michael Rosenbaum, who most know as Lex Luthor from ‘Smallville’, reprises the role of The Flash, although this time he is playing Barry Allen rather than Wally West. Rosenbaum’s lighthearted voice is a welcome addition to the cast, and he slips easily back into the heartwarming role of the Scarlet Speedster.
Susan Eisenberg returns as Diana of Themyscira, aka Wonder Woman, and assumes the same strength and poise as expected of the warrior princess. She works especially well against Claudia Black, who voices Cheetah, because of the contrast between Wonder Woman’s noble tone of voice versus Cheetah’s cold accent.
Carl Lumbly also returns as J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter, and fills the role with a compelling sense of mystery. J’onn often struggles with the normalcy of pretending to be human when he is out of costume, and Lumbly emanates the feeling so completely, that it is easy to sympathize with the Martian’s struggles to overcome his archenemy, Ma’alefa’ak, whom he also voices.
Nathan Fillion, the geek god known mostly for his roles as Malcolm Reynolds in Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ and Richard Castle in ABC’s Castle, steps into the tights a third time to play Hal Jordan. Fillion has had experience with the DC Animated Universe multiple times: first, as Greg Saunders, aka Vigilante, in ‘Justice League Unlimited’ and later as Hal Jordan in the animated film ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.’
Hal Jordan’s scenario of defeat is perhaps the most crushing aside from Bruce Wayne’s, as he is tricked into believing he is responsible for the deaths of two people: one of which remind him of his doomed romance with Star Sapphire that led to her becoming a villain. Fillion brings a powerful performance of sorrow and guilt that is liable to make one shed a tear.
Finally, Phil Morris returns as Vandal Savage, whom he played in ‘Justice League’, and does a remarkable job of being smug, while still being an intelligent warlord orchestrating the end of the world. He holds up well against the incredibly skilled voice actors playing the Justice League, due to his long career of voice work.
Bumper Robinson plays Cyborg, who was brought into the team to help stop Savage, and is a welcome new addition to the cast, as he has a wealth of experience in acting and voice work throughout his career. Cyborg fits in well with the members and proves his valor, while still maintaining a fun, upbeat role within the team.
As always in the DC movies, the film is beautifully animated and action packed. The fight choreography is brutal and the script is tight, precise, and gut-wrenching, as the League tries to deal with their anger at Batman’s betrayal, while also trying to stop Savage from destroying the world.
The emotional damage is just as serious as the physical damage by the end of the movie. However, it manages to end on a hopeful note that reflects the years of friendship shared by the characters and by their voice actors. It is no surprise that the writing is sublime, as it was the last work of the late great Dwayne McDuffie, who passed away February 21st of 2011. It is also directed by DC animated veteran Lauren Montgomery, who has done five DC animated films prior to this one.
‘Justice League: Doom’ is definitely not a movie you want to miss. It holds up well to the other animated films before it, and will beckon fans of the cartoon series as well as those who enjoy the original animated movies. Don’t sit this one out.
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