REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (1997)

 

CAST

Matthew Settle (Gossip girl)
Kimberly Oja (The OC)
John Kassir (Pete’s Dragon)
Michelle Hurd (Dardevil)
Kenny Johnston (Heli)
David Krumholtz (Hail, Caesar!)
Elisa Donovan (Sabrina: TTW)
Ron Pearson (Malcolm & Eddie)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Robert Gallo (In The Mix)

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The protagonist, Tori Olafsdotter (Kimberly Oja), is a meteorologist working at the Eno Meteorological Institute who will later become Ice. The city of New Metro is faced with a tornado controlled by a terrorist calling himself the Weatherman (Miguel Ferrer). The Flash (Ken Johnston) dissipates the tornado using his super speed while the other members of the JLA use their powers to save civilians.

Tori stumbles upon a hidden device in the lab where she works. While investigating its use, she spills water on it and it strikes her with strange blue electricity. She is unharmed and leaves the lab for home freezing everything she touches. En route she sees a man drowning; when she attempts to rescue him, the water freezes around her. The JLA, believing her to be the Weatherman, abduct and interrogate her. They release her and Tori believes it was all simply a bad dream.Michelle Hurd in Justice League of America (1997)The JLA suspect that Tori’s timid work colleague Arliss Hopke is The Weatherman. New Metro is attacked again, this time by golf ball-sized hailstones, but Fire melts them all. The JLA infiltrate a party at the Eno Meteorological Institute looking for evidence that Arliss Hopke is The Weatherman. Tori however discovers that it is her boss, Dr. Eno, who is The Weatherman. Tori takes this knowledge to the JLA and they in turn take her to their secret command center, an alien spacecraft hidden underwater. The JLA’s leader J’onn J’onzz (David Ogden Stiers) introduces himself to Tori and the other members of the League reveal their secret identities. Tori discovers that The Atom (John Kassir) is a man with whom she has been flirting. The JLA attempt to train Tori to hone her freezing powers without much success.Martin Walters, a young man who has been pursuing B.B. DaCosta romantically, watches a news broadcast about the JLA and sees that Fire is wearing earrings that he gave B.B. as a gift. Martin tells B.B. that he knows her secret identity. B.B. secretly alerts the JLA, and J’onn takes the shape of Fire and appears before Martin and B.B. “Fire” claims that B.B. is a close friend who lent “her” the earrings. Martin is embarrassed by his “mistake”, and B.B. gently terminates his romantic interest in her, although she assures him that he’s a nice guy and that he will find true love someday. The Weatherman demands $20 million or he will engulf New Metro in a tidal wave. He attacks the Watchtower using a heat ray. The JLA escape and devise a plan to stop the Weatherman, leaving Tori behind. They are unsuccessful, but Tori stops it by freezing the tidal wave solid. The other heroes apologize for leaving Tori behind, and offer her membership again, including a costume and the codename “Ice”. Tori forgives them and agrees to their offer.Meanwhile, the Weatherman plans his escape from prison.

There have been many comic book adaptations, some successful, some not so. This film unfortunately fits into the latter. It feels like it wants to succeed and certainly its heart is in the right place, but it ultimately falls short of it’s targets. The characterisation seems to be to create a variety of characters and not necessarily stay faithful to how they were portrayed in the orignal comics- the Flash and Green Lantern particularly so. However, Fire, The Atom and The Martian Manhunter are very much like their comic-book counterparts and are enjoyable to watch.The costumes are faithful to their four-color origins. The villain of the piece, Miguel Ferrer’s “Weatherman”, is indicative of the constraints of the budget and so doesn’t present a foe that seems to need the entire JLA to defeat. The plot, driven by the Weatherman and the origin of “Ice”  also reflect the fact its a TV pilot.  budget and TV guidelines stopped it from being what it should have been. Still, if you want to see some fun super-hero action and big-names working together, seek this out.