Justice League: Throne of Atlantis movie full length review - Well... It's Better than "Son of Batman"
DC's new animated continuity, based off the New 52, continues it's steady march into mediocrity. Not keeping up extensively with the current state of DC comics, I don't know if the problem is the source material or the adaptations.
However given that none of the New 52 based films have managed to hit it out of the park like say "New Frontier" or "Crisis on Two Earths" did, I'm inclined to feel the source material is the core problem.
In any case, this features the introduction of Aquaman into this new continuity. And to be fair, it starts out pretty strongly. Arthur Curry is a pretty well realized character, and his being pulled between two worlds is established well early on. The existing Justice League members are fairly solid, with Rosario Dawson taking over the voicing of Wonder Woman being a fairly substantial improvement over the grating portrayal from "Justice League: War." The strongest thing, as with "War" and even the atrocious "Son of Batman," is the action scenes. This appears to be what the film wants to be the focus. It wants to be an action film first, and a Justice League film second. The action may be solid, but it's not in service of much and the whole thing starts to unravel about halfway through.
This is one of those cases where the 72 minute runtime really hampers the whole thing. Arthur Curry is a character going through a fairly complex personal journey and it's impossible to give that the time and weight it needs while also trying to service the entire Justice League at the time. The result is that once the main conflict kicks in and the struggle for the titular throne takes center stage, all nuance goes out the window.
The biggest problem really is the villains. Orm should be a very conflicted character, feeling rightfully cheated out of his throne as well as concerned about what is best for his people. Instead he's shown as a one dimensional villain who is also possibly the dumbest villain in recent film history. He summons a massive tidal wave, and that wave closes in on the city of Metropolis it's said flatly by Batman that there's no way they can stop it. But then the wave doesn't hit. It just parts like a curtain to reveal Orm's army. Why would he not send in the tidal wave as his first strike??? Why offer what is basically a fair fight of army vs. army??? And the way he's defeated feels cheap. Black Manta doesn't fair much better. There are hints of the deeper villain under the surface, but ultimately he's just the standard secondary baddie.
Even though the action scenes are good, the level of violence is unnecessary. The action really isn't that much worse than would be found on a children's TV cartoon, except that where a character would just be punched to the ground, here they are bloodily sliced in half. It makes sense for some characters, but when even the "heroes" are violently dispatching Atlanteans left and right something feels off. The film even tries to have it both ways, but having the Atlanteans remove their helmets when peace is declared showing unique character models for each one. It's a good humanizing moment, but it also makes you immediately think "how many good men who thought they were defending their kingdom did the heroes slaughter before we got to this point?" The answer is "way too many for this to feel OK." It is at least an improvement over "Son of Batman," in so far as none of the characters completely fail. Even Orm, as one dimensional as he is, is functional as a villain versus the insanely boring depiction of Deathstroke in that film. And there's nobody as grating as Damian was in that film either, thank goodness. It's about on par with "Justice League: War," with the same total number of strengths and weaknesses, just not the same ones. For instance Wonder Woman is better, but the film loses steam rather than builds to a thrilling climax. There's a stronger story to be told here, but the film is more concerned about the next action set piece than it is about a solid character payoff or emotional through-line in anything but a very ham-fisted fashion.