Sunday, March 27, 2011

Justice League of America (Un-aired Pilot, 1997)

(1997 Warner Bros. TV?) Director: Félix Enríquez Alcalá Starring: Matthew Settle .... Guy Gardner/Green Lantern Kimberly Oja .... Tori Olafsdotter/Ice (as Kim Oja) John Kassir .... Ray Palmer/The Atom Michelle Hurd .... B.B. DaCosta/Fire Kenny Johnston .... Barry Allen/The Flash David Ogden Stiers .... J'onn J'onzz/Martian Manhunter Miguel Ferrer .... The Weather Man (Dr. Eno)

This thing wasn't nearly as bad as I expected....which isn't saying much. Though I will admit that I might be desensitized the stimuli...I mean I've seen alot of really bad superhero flicks (Rat Pfink a Boo Boo and Supersonic Man come to mind)...and contrary to popular belief, Marvel Comics hasn't exactly cornered the market on bad superhero film adaptations (Steel with Shaq, for example....or the 1960s Wonder Woman pilot that never aired...

The Plot: Metro City begins suffering from terrorist attacks by a mysterious weather controlling villain known as The Weather Man who broadcasts threats on the airwaves, which piques the curiosity of the Justice League of America....or at least a very dysfunctional facsimile of said. There's Guy Gardner, the Green Lantern....who has woman troubles. There's Barry Allen, the Flash, who can't hold a job and is a good natured dumb ol' lug who's incredibly impulsive. The Atom, science teacher Ray Palmer, has issues with his self esteem. And Fire...well, she's a struggling actress.


I've been reading DC Comics for nearly 30 years...and none of these characterizations and plot points seem familiar. When did the JLA become a really bad episode of "Friends"? To add to the confusion, the show's structured in flashbacks, mainly centered around the character of Tori, a researcher working on weather manipulation who a.) gains superpowers via a blacklight bulb and some dry ice smoke, and b.) just happens to work with the surprise bad guy, portrayed by the always enjoyable Miguel Ferrer (a long-time comic book fanatic himself and collaborator with Bill Mumy (yeah...the "Will Robinson" guy) on the mid-1980s Marvel Comics mini-series, Comet Man)

The End. Obviously inspired by J.M. DeMattesis and Keith Giffen's comedic "revamp" of the Justice League concept in the mid-1980s (which is currently enjoying a new surge of reader interest via the writing duo's incredibly witty "Formerly Known As the Justice League" material coming out of DC Comics as of late), the Justice League of America pilot film suffers from trying to be too funny, in my opinion. The obvious attempt to stress the point that these particular interpretations of classic DC heroes are "ordinary" people with regular problems is taken to an extreme that makes them not sympathetic (as the people behind the production hoped), but instead terribly cliched and laughable....thankfully, the folks at WB didn't make the same mistakes when producing the great Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated projects a few years later.....

All in all, production value and performance-wise, not a bad's not like we can blame the actors for a script that's obviously lacking in substance. Recommended for only hard-core DC fans only....

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