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Super-Sized

Cartoon network’s Justice League and TBS’ Invincible: There’s no I in teamwork, people.

By Bill Frost
Posted // June 11,2007 -

Whatever happened to the lone wolf, the maverick, the solo superhero who could save the world without getting all co-dependent about it?

Tube StopsThursday, Nov. 15: Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (ABC, 7 p.m.) By No Means a Cheap Sweeps-Period Ratings Stunt: Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum and more giraffes shake their moneymakers in a “holiday” lingerie fashion show. Insert “ho, ho, ho” joke here.

Friday, Nov. 16: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN, 7 p.m.) A repeat of the all-musical episode proves again that, yes, it was a dumbass idea. Iron Chef USA: Showdown in Las Vegas (UPN, 8 p.m.) Hosted by William Shatner … then again, “dumbass idea” is really a subjective term.

Saturday, Nov. 17: Justice League: Secret Origins (Cartoon Network, 8 p.m.) Superman and pals band together to battle the greatest evil facing the planet today: Animators who letterbox a damned cartoon that was made for TV in the first place! Meanwhile, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan and the Wonder Twins form their own super team, the Legion of Suck.

Sunday, Nov. 18: Movie: Invincible (2001, TBS, 6 p.m.) Billy Zane and kung-fu friends fight to save Earth and, even more pressing, convince everyone that Michael Jackson had nothing to do with the soundtrack. Britney Spears Live From Las Vegas (HBO, 9 p.m.) The skanktacular concert that answers the question, “Hell, who needs Cinemax?”

Monday, Nov. 19: Crossing Jordan (NBC, 9 p.m.) Jordan (Jill Hennessy) teams with an FBI man (Hennessy’s Law & Order costar Chris Noth) to crack the case of “Who remembers these people were on L&O?”

Tuesday, Nov. 20: Jennifer Lopez Live! (NBC, 7 p.m.) The skanktacular concert that answers the question, “Hell, who needs the Spice Channel?” Gilmore Girls (The WB, 7 p.m.) Lorelai finally decides to open her own inn, but the Tesoro cult put a gas station there overnight!

Wednesday, Nov. 21: Enterprise (UPN, 7 p.m.) The starship is attacked by a geek in a cowboy hat screaming, “You can’t leave! Listen to hits now!” Garth Brooks: Coast to Coast (CBS, 9 p.m.) Brooks performs aboard the Enterprise for a captive audience who were expecting Britney or J.Lo.

The Cartoon Network’s new Justice League (premieres Saturday, Nov. 17, in 90-minute movie form; regular timeslot Mondays thereafter) finds venerable loner Superman assembling a team of fellow evil-fightin’ superheroes because, apparently, the Man of Steel just can’t multitask anymore.

To be fair, Superman does have a lot on his plate at the outset of Justice League, a far superior animated successor to the rather embarrassing Super Friends series of the ’70s and ’80s. The UN-like World Assembly, striving for nuclear disarmament as dirty hippie peaceniks protest outside, votes to put Superman in charge of … the … entire … planet. No more wars! Everyone will just get along! Uh-huh.

No sooner than you can ask yourself “Does handing over the fate of the human race to a mysterious non-Earthling who can’t even color-coordinate really make sense?” Superman has taken apart nearly every nuclear warhead in existence between international watchdog shifts and power yoga classes. And the populace, who don’t seem to mind never having had a say in the matter, are feeling a warm fuzziness previously thought to have biodegraded with ’90s lefty-globalist cartoon superhero Captain Planet.

Like all liberal agendas, this Prozac peace plan goes south when someone shows up at the commune with a big ol’ gun—namely, evil aliens bent on the enslavement and eventual annihilation of Earth (like Carson Daly, just more up front with their intentions). After a nasty encounter with the beings, Batman, always the lone voice of healthy dissention in the ranks, begrudgingly agrees to team up with the “overwhelmed” Superman even though he sees him as just a bulging boy scout. “Another key to the city?” Batman remarks sarcastically as Superman speeds off to Metropolis for an appointment—ha!

The Green Lantern (hard-nosed military type with a super-powered mood ring), Wonder Woman (hottie warrior princess with a magic rope and even-more-magic tube top), The Flash (the Fastest Man on Earth, which may explain why Wonder Woman ignores his advances), Hawkgirl (she flies and squawks a lot) and Martian Manhunter (last of the Mars race; checks into hotels under the name J’onn J’onzz) also join the fray. After the gang beat back the invaders, Superman proposes they stick together (“What, like a bunch of super friends?” cracks The Flash), thus the Justice League is born. Since every other available superhero on Earth was out clubbing and ignoring their pagers during the alien threat, they’ll be stuck on the expansion team.

Strangely enough, TBS’ Invincible (premieres Sunday, Nov. 18)—also about the assembling of a disparate group of superheroes to save the world from impending evil—doesn’t take itself as deadly serious as the cartoon Justice League. The aforementioned quotes are pretty much the only examples of humor in JL, and it’s letterboxed! A cartoon in letterbox! This pretentious “widescreen” practice must stop! If you’re making something for TV, make it to fit the fuggin’ TV screen!

OK, rant’s over … for now.

Usually, the phrase “TBS Superstation Original Movie” is greeted with the same sigh of trepidation as “now with real rodent flavor” and “presented in widescreen,” and Invincible has another strike against it in the form of “starring Billy Zane.” The potential for unyielding suckage is considerable, but this martial-arts action flick actually delivers—it’s all reheated chop-socky leftovers from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Highlander and The Matrix, but it delivers.

Zane is Os, an immortal rogue with a bad Matchbox Twenty haircut who sees the light after getting his ass handed to him in a battle with the White Warrior. After she sends him down the path of good, he shaves his head, develops a penchant for dry narration and assembles a motley crew of “chosen ones” to take on the Shadowmen, a surly band of dark angels who must destroy Earth to escape it. Plenty of mystical mumbo-jumbo ensues, but the special effects and deadly kung-fu action (in all its black-leather-trenchcoat-flapping grandeur) are as spectacular as Zane is, well, Zane.

And it didn’t require letterboxing! “Widescreen” is the biggest crock of … never mind. That battle is coming …

 
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