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Justice League: Gods and Monsters Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015) Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Video Premiere: July 28, 2015 / Running Time: 76 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Sam Liu / Writers: Alan Burnett (story & screenplay), Bruce Timm (story)

Voice Cast: Benjamin Bratt (Superman), Michael C. Hall (Batman), Tamara Taylor (Wonder Woman), Paget Brewster (Lois Lane), C. Thomas Howell (Will Magnus), Jason Isaacs (Lex Luthor), Dee Bradley Baker (Ray Palmer), Eric Bauza (Ryan Choi), Larry Cedar (Pete Ross), Richard Chamberlain (Highfather), Trevor Devall (Emil Hamilton), Dan Gilvezan (Pat Dugan), Grey Griffin (Tina), Daniel Hagen (Dr. Sivana), Penny Johnson Jerald (President Waller), Josh Keaton (Orion), Arif S. Kinchen (Michael Holt), Yuri Lowenthal (Jor-El), Carl Lumbly (Silas Stone), Jim Meskimen (Victor Fries), Taylor Parks (Victor Stone), Khary Payton (John Henry Irons), Tahmoh Penikett (Steve Trevor), Andrea Romano (Jean Palmer), Andre Sogliuzzo (Cop), Bruce Thomas (General Zod), Lauren Tom (Lara), Marcelo Tubert (Tough Guy), Kari Wahlgren (Karen Beecher)

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, German, Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai)
Blu-ray Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, German, Spanish
DVD Subtitles: English, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Two single-sided discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-5)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover in Cardboard Box with Figurine
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Also available as with Figurine ($29.96 SRP), as standalone DVD ($19.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Justice League: Gods and Monsters from Amazon:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Deluxe Blu-ray Combo with Figurine DVD Instant Video

You might wonder who are those three characters prominently featured on the cover of Justice League: Gods and Monsters, the latest in Warner Bros. Animation's bustling line of PG-13 animated DC Universe original movies.
Why, they happen to be Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman, just not as you've seen them before!

Both the front and rear covers tout Gods and Monsters as a creation of Bruce Timm, a name that diehard DC fans will recognize as the co-creator of such iconic '90s television as "Batman: The Animated Series", "Superman: The Animated Series", "The New Batman Adventures", and "Batman Beyond." In addition to executive producing this adventure, Timm shares story credit with Alan Burnett, who wrote the screenplay.

The dark movie opens by putting a new spin on the well-known Superman origin story. This goateed, Caesar cutted Superman is the son of General Zod. Sent to Earth while his planet crumbled, this Superman (named Hernan Guerra) is raised by Mexican migrant farmers. Joining this short-tempered Superman in the Justice League are Kirk Langstrom, a vampiric Batman who feasts on criminals having transformed himself to cure his cancer; and Wonder Woman (real name: Bekka), whose past of having her husband killed on her wedding day by Highfather is fleshed out over time.

The Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman of "Justice League: Gods and Monsters" bear little resemblance to the superheroes' more traditional renditions.

After the distinguished scientist Victor Fries is found dead and drained in the Arctic, government authorities begin investigating the Justice League's methods. Even in this alternate universe, the Justice League is at odds with Lex Luthor, who is plotting to eliminate them.

The storytelling of Gods and Monsters is curious. It is obviously geared towards the most ardent followers of DC Comics' lore. And yet, it is that very lore which is cast aside and rewritten. Sure, there is some creativity involved in retooling the established relationships and characters of these superheroes and villains. But couldn't that creativity be better served in another way that didn't involve throwing out everything sacred about these iconic figures? Why not tell an original tale that hits upon the same themes or ascribe these new identities to either obscure comic book characters or altogether new ones?

One very obvious reason for this approach may be that Warner and DC know well that these iconic figures always have something of a built-in audience. New ones developed from scratch are bound to breed some resistance, particularly in today's skeptical world of pop culture where the consistently courted fanboy is temperamental, opinionated, and easily encouraged to broadcast rants of disapproval.

Bekka and Orion's scenic wedding day is soon to be spoiled...

I've never been much of a comic book guy. The one from my childhood I most vividly recall was an unauthorized biography of Michael Jordan. That hasn't stopped me from thoroughly enjoying a number of the many superhero films that have come about in my lifetime
(including five that ranked among the top 50 of my 2010s Half-Decade Hundred list). But the best of those movies are accessible in a way that animated TV series and direct-to-video productions are not, requiring little foreknowledge and even less mutual respect between audience and producers. Gods and Monsters demands more than that and more than I could give it. Was it intermittently engaging? Sure. Was it something I'd ever need to see again or care enough about to follow its ideas over on the recently-launched affiliated Machinima web series "Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles"? No.

But don't let my modest enthusiasm for this outlet discourage you from giving this a look. Let your own personal aversion to this reinterpretation be the only thing to stand in the way of an open-minded viewing.


Whether or not you respond to the film, you must be impressed by the Blu-ray's picture and sound. The 1.78:1 visuals are sharp and spotless, as they ought to be for something transferred directly from digital sources. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio also more than gets the job done, with its crisp dialogue complemented by tasteful effects and music.

Co-writer and executive producer Bruce Timm describes how "Gods and Monsters" came together in "Calculated Risks." For no obvious reason, a 2010 featurette about Darkseid and "The New Gods" is recycled here.


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an extended sneak peek at the DC Universe's next animated movie, Batman: Bad Blood (11:45). Full of crew and voice cast interviews,
the piece also includes some clips, storyboards, and artwork.

Turning our attention back to the feature presentation, "Alternate Realities: Infinite Possibilities" (19:24) focuses on the history of alternate realities in DC Comics. Creative types consider some of the ideas that have arisen from them and the different outlets those ideas have been treated to.

"Calculated Risks: The Making of Gods and Monsters" (23:37) is more specific to this production. It hashes out the details of how this project came about, with writers acknowledging each other's contributions.

The case describes "The New Gods" (22:13) as a vintage featurette, which is to say that it was made a few years ago for an earlier DC animated film (2010's Superman/Batman: Apocalypse). In it, various DC artists and writers talk shop, celebrating Jack Kirby, discussing supervillain Darkseid, and appreciating Apocalypse. It's kind of an odd inclusion.

Saturn Girl, Superman, and Phantom Girl have their hands full with Drax in this 2006 episode of "Legion of Super Heroes." Superman rescues Lois Lane in 1997's "Brave New Metropolis."

From the DC Comics Vault holds half-hour episodes of two half-hour cartoons. From "Legion of Super Heroes", "Phantoms" (22:25; originally aired November 4, 2006) sees Superman unleash Drax, a powerful villain with a vendetta towards Superman.

"Brave New Metropolis" (21:19; originally aired September 27, 1997),
the disc's only standard definition item, a Season 2 episode of "Superman: The Animated Series", fittingly sends Lois Lane to an alternate reality version of Metropolis where Superman and Lex Luthor rule together.

The discs open with trailers for Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem, Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery, LEGO: Dimensions, and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. While these are not accessible by menu, the disc's final listing offers trailers for "Teen Titans Go!": Appetite for Disruption, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (curiously SD), and Batman vs. Robin.

The DVD here, the same one sold on its own, only includes the trailers and the Batman: Bad Blood sneak peek.

The static main menu simply attaches score to a reworking of the cover art. The Blu-ray does not support bookmarking, but resumes playback, so long as you were in the middle of it.

The eco-friendly blue keepcase is topped by an embossed slipcover and includes a sheet of Digital HD directions.

Even when the good guys of Justice League aren't all that good, Lex Luthor remains their nemesis.


Justice League: Gods and Monsters can't be accused of recycling the same old DC Comics storylines. At the same time, it can't be credited with telling a story that is involving or compelling. Wielding plenty of substantial extras and a flawless feature presentation, the Blu-ray combo pack should satisfy interested parties who enjoy the movie or are confident they will based on the line's many past productions.

Buy Justice League: Gods and Monsters from Amazon:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / Deluxe Blu-ray Combo with Figurine / DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed July 30, 2015.

Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Warner Bros. Animation, DC Comics, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
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