Under Review: ‘Smallville: Absolute Justice’ /  It's Just Movies Under Review: 'Smallville: Absolute Justice'
 
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Under Review: ‘Smallville: Absolute Justice’

— by JOSUE SANCHEZ —

I remember being 6 years old and visiting a friend with my mom. I was sitting in their living room, and a movie they were watching before we arrived was playing on the TV set. What I saw next changed my life forever.

On the TV appeared a man, wearing a business suit and glasses and working in an office building, who begins to hear a high pitched sound that no one around him seems to notice. He then hears a voice speaking to him. What this man’s voice says apparently raises the concern of the man in suit. He quietly walks away from the room he is in and heads for the nearest window. He sits on the window sill, looks behind him to verify he has not been spotted, removes his glasses, and then leaps. As he majestically glides down the precipice, his business suit is magically replaced by another — a red and blue outfit that included a cape.

Now, after 20 or 30 stories of falling, little Josue (me) saw something remarkable; the falling man stopped falling. Instead, he began to turn around and soar up higher then where he was when he leaped. Yes, this guy, whoever he was, could fly, and that was the greatest thing I had ever seen until that day. Most of you have probably guessed the movie was “Superman: The Movie.”

Yes, I became obsessed. I got the comics. I saw both Christopher Reeves “Superman” movies, which were available at that time on VHS. Oh, and yes, I was that kid that you heard about on the news that tied himself to a rope and jumped!

I saw the rest of the films at the theater and watched the “Superboy” TV show. Later, in the ’90s, I never missed an episode of “Lois and Clark: The New Adventure Of Superman.” There was a long pause after that; live action Superman was nonexistent. I moved on with my life and always stayed loyal to “the Man of Steel.”

Then, in the early months of 2001, I was going through one of the worst times of my life, a lonely time in my life, when something saved me, and made this curse I had brought upon myself lighten. I discovered that they were going to release a weekly TV show that would concentrate on the early years of Clark Kent (the future Superman). This was a blessing for me! It gave me something to look forward to every week, and something to keep me occupied in between. Yes, the TV show was “Smallville” and, as you can see, it has a special place in my heart.

“Smallville” has always been about the journey of Clark Kent, alien name Kal-El, to become the one who we all know as “Superman.” From the beginning, the mild mannered Clark Kent of “this” universe was always brave and faced challenges head on. He was usually alone at the time of facing danger, but did he did so eloquently and with his usual heroic posture. I was a fan from the get-go.

Although, at times, I felt his progression was radically halted for reasons that were only moderately explained, the journey has so far landed here, in its ninth season. From the first episode of season nine, “Savior,” we have practically been enjoying a “Superman” show. His abilities are all well developed, and his training mostly complete. He has become the protector — “the invisible” protector — of Metropolis. During his journey, he has met and discovered great friends. Some with wonderful talents and other with actual powers. At times, they have been forced to worked together, but usually they fall apart at day’s end due to their pride, and personal issues. Currently, he has been sharing the task of protecting the world and Metropolis with other heroes like The Green Arrow, Aquaman, Cyborg, Impulse and Black Canary. Although they are most of the members of what one day will be called “The Justice League,” up to now, they have been far from being a team, or working as a team.

This is where the highly anticipated Smallville movie titled “Absolute Justice” comes into play. The plot is simple, Clark Kent and his friend Chloe’s investigation of a murder leads them to uncover a hidden group of superheroes that call themselves the J.S.A. and who appear to have fallen apart for very suspicious reasons.

It was very exciting hearing the news and watching the trailers for the movie beforehand. Much of the story was successfully kept pretty quiet. But, finally, came Feb. 5, and all the fans were treated to an absolutely spectacular event. We were able to witness, first hand, how Clark and friends came to realize the importance of team work. How they should trust an rely on one another, and perhaps develop a closer, more extracurricular relationship.

This all came to be when they met the members of a disbanded group called the Justice Society of America (the J.S.A.). With them in the “Smallville” universe, Geoff Johns — the movie’s writer and a veteran comic book writer — was able to bleed out an abundance of comic book lore that spans all of the DC comics historical periods. Some of the J.S.A. members that we meet in “Absolute Justice” are: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Sandman, Stargirl and The Star Spangled kid. We also got glimpses of many others, including Green Lantern, The Flash, Wildcat and Atom. The costumes bared the attention to detail that is seldom noted when transferring comic books into live action

Hawkman, played by Michael Shanks is the beaten leader of the J.S.A. He is weary, unshaven and carries a load that we don’t discover until almost the end. When his pain is taken into consideration, then all his actions are understandable. He is brave and confident, and encourages Clark to trust his friends and learn to work well with them. It is a lesson that Clark learns apparently (more later).

The next fantastic character that they introduced was Stargirl, interpreted by Britt Irvin. She was the youngest member of the J.S.A. She is the apprentice of “The Star Spangled Kid,” and is forced to grow up quickly when her mentor is killed. She manages to blossom in the two-hour movie from a very sad, teary-eyed girl at the hospital, to a superhero fighting side by side in the end with Hawkman and the future Superman. Her character was a unique and pleasant surprise.

The Sandman and the The Star Spangled Kid have very small roles in the film and it is sad that we only get to meet them at the end of their journeys. Their costumes are also equally like they are in the comic books, but we never really get to see them in action.

The last J.S.A. member I would like to mention was also my favorite: Dr. Fate. Here we have a powerful being capable of seeing the future, with a presence demanding of your attention. He walks slowly and confidently, exuding power yet still appearing kind. His interactions with Lois and Clark were mesmerizing. Since he is the teller of fates, he knew everything we know. He knew who Clark will become, and who will help him get there. He was saying out loud in the movie, all the things we the fans have been screaming at our TV screens for almost a decade.

The next character I would like to discuss from the movie was my least favorite: Icicle, the movie’s villain. Everything about this villain came a little short for me. I don’t believe he successfully sold his role. Although his character brought these great heroes together to work as a team, I don’t feel he was as powerful as he was portrayed. Did it really take future Superman, Martian Manhunter and Hawkman, to stop this guy? I believe Clark alone would have taken him out had this been under different circumstances. Yet, as a fan, I am grateful to him for bringing them all together.

Pam Grier’s character, Amanda Waller (whom we will see more of on the show throughout the season) brings us another part of the DC lore — Checkmate. She appears to be the head of this underground organization called Checkmate, with the chess piece of a knight for their organization logo being thrown all around. She appears to be playing a large role in everything that is going on in this movie, from Lois to Tess Mercer. She is also the instigator behind all the killings “Icicle” is committing.

Martian Manhunter, who has been powerless for more than a season now, also returns to aid the investigation, and thankfully, his exchange with Dr. Fate ends well for him; he finally recovers his powers. Though brief, we also get a glimpse of his true “green” appearance at one point in the movie.

Lois Lane is the second to last character I would like to discuss. Although she does not appear in the movie until the second half, she immediately shines. She is is Clark’s destiny and it shows. With all of Chloe’s advance search engines and Clark’s investigation, Lois still cracks the mystery that Chloe and Clark had been trying to uncover all of the first half of the movie. She even exceeds their findings with new information that helps the team. She is truly an investigative reporter and an asset to Clark and the show. I cannot wait for her to finally be the No. 1 leading lady of this show.

The direction of the movie is something to discuss as well, since it had two directors: Glen Winters and Tom Welling, himself. Tom had already demonstrated his directing abilities on the show four times before. He is a natural behind the camera and his peers hailed him as one of their favorites. It is no surprise I felt the half that he directed flowed better. It had the substance that I enjoy about “Smallville.” In Glen Winters’ defense, his hour was more of a setup for the next, and he was missing some the other favorite “Smallville” characters, like Lois and Tess.

Louis Febre, the genius behind the music of “Smallville,” once again provided us with a soundtrack concerto. He truly knows how to embrace and give birth to the the heroic sounds and music that are required to make these characters and stories come to life.

Finally, I will talk about Welling. Although his Clark Kent/The Blur role in this movie was limited, mostly because he had to share so much screen time with other guests both new and old, he still managed to be center of everything the movie revolved around. He was the one who must take all the big steps, he must open his mind to working as a team, even if he doesn’t need them, or feels that they are getting into danger — he has to learn to trust them. His eternal fate was discussed, his future relationship with Lois, too. He played his role well and when it came down to it in the end, he fought heroically and the “team” saved the day. So, although I would have preferred more Clark, I understood his responsibilities on and behind the screen.

“Smallville: Absolute Justice” was more than any fan could have expected or is used to. It had all the aspects covered, it provided treats for the regular “Smallville” fans, as well as the comic book fan just tuning in out of curiosity. Ratings-wise, this was the highest-rated “Smallville” episode of the season in total viewers. Competitively, “Smallville” ranked No. 1 from 8 to 10 p.m. in men ages 18 to 49. This is a huge milestone for the show and my applause goes to a job well done. Many, many people worked hard to make this special event happen, and for a show that is in its ninth year, this was a fresh, and amazing achievement.

Look for “Smallville: Absolute Justice” to repeat on the CW during the summer and to appear on “Smallville’s” season nine DVD/blu-ray.

Click here for more “Smallville” coverage by It’s Just Movies.

Follow Josue Sanchez on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Josue_can.

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15 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Lynn #
    1

    Yeah Josue!! You made me fall in love with that movie all over again. That’s all I’m asking for reviewers to do. Actually watch it before writing a review. Is that too much to ask..?

    Good job!

  2. Patti #
    2

    I am speechless Josue. What an amazing review. It really captured how special this Smallville movie event was to you and all the fans. Your personal memories in the beginning, of your introduction to the Superman lore, really set the stage for the rest of the review. You definitely did the Smallville movie “Absolute Justice” 😀

  3. Marie #
    3

    Excellent Review I loved all the Characters except Icycle … I can’t wait to see more Lois & Clark like the great reporters they are also.. Amanda Waller was great.

  4. 4

    Awesome job once again Josue. You truly are an amazing writer. Like you I fell in love with Superman when I saw Christopher Reeves fly out of the building and then when he saves Lois for the first time from the falling helicopter. Smallville has amazed me once again even after 9 seasons with Absolute Justice. It had everything a Smallville fan could ask for plus some great surprises.

  5. Elle #
    5

    Great review Josue and thank you for sharing your Superman memories!

    You touched on the strengths and weaknesses of the episode so well. I thought all of the characters came off looking good although I find that Geoff Johns writes Clark Kent as reactionary and tends to sideline him at times.

    Absolute Justice was a very strong episode that was a comic book come to life. I definitely had my geek out moments and thoroughly enjoyed this episode.

  6. lia #
    6

    Cool review! I mostly agree on what you said about Lois lane. She just shined the moment she appeared. Geoff Johns wrote her so well. Also the part about Welling as a director, though I equally liked Glen’s directions. Then there’s the part about Louis Febre. I adore his scores. I completely agree, in that they make the story come to life.
    Great review Josue!

  7. bigge3021 #
    7

    Wonderful review Josue especially with your childhood memories on how you became a “Superman” fan. It was very touching and it sounds very familiar to my memories. I agree with most of your strengths on this episode except for Britt Irvin as Stargirl. I don’t know if it was Britt Irvin or the character but I just didn’t buy it on how I remember stargirl from DC comics. My favorite character from JSA was Dr. Fate (Brent Stait). Brent was exceptional in the movie from his scenes as Kent Nelson with Carter Hall (Michael Shanks) to his scenes as Dr. Fate with Clark, Lois and John Jones. I thought “Icicle” character served it’s purpose but I do have to say that I wish they added another DC comic villain to make the fight scene at the end more believable. I do want to add that I really enjoy Oliver Queen/Green Arrow in this episode especially with his interaction with Hawkman. I really believe Geoff Johns wrote Green Arrow as the character was suppose to be written from the comics. “Agent Tess” scene at the end was the surprise moment of the episode for me. I hope the SV writers capitalize on it by doing Tess-centric episode later in the season to gives us some answers on Tess. Another thing that was a favorite of mine was Chloe. This is by far the best episode this season for Chloe because I saw a glimpse of the “old” Chloe and hope it continues. I was really happy to see Phil Morris returning as John Jones and his character getting his powers back. I agree it was great to see a glimpse of Nartian Manhunter’s true appearance. I also want to add that I enjoy the scene with Jones and Chloe that he said Chloe, Clark and Oliver was his only family(Very touching). I can’t wait to see more of Amanda Waller (Pam Grier) during the season but it was good start for the character. Your thoughts on Lois was well said and I couldn’t say it any better. And lastly, I agree that Tom Welling did great job as director and I had feeling that because of his directing duties that Clark was going to be limited in the movie. But I do want to say that Glen Winter had a difficult task of setting up the story in the first hour and I think he did wonderful job as well snd shouldn’t be short change. Once again, great job Josue on the review and hope good times continue to roll on Smallville. =)

  8. 8

    Great review of a fantastic episode. There were times I would really rather have seen more Clark, but this was an epic geekfest of an episode for Smallville. The whole thing was a goldmine for easter eggs of the DC universe.

    We’re on the same page as Superman fans. After almost nine years, Clark has come to the edge of being Superman. I really hope that the powers that be will give Tom Welling to us in that role someday, because he absolutely already owns Clark Kent like nobody else has ever done!

  9. 9

    First Josue i’d like to compliment you on being such an amazing writer you really sucked me with your tale of how you became a Superman fan. Now to the review part I agree with everything you said. It was truly magically to watch all these characters come to life in the screen. Even if it was a small screen. Maybe now DC will feel more inclined to give us a big screen Justice League movie. but back to Smallville they have been so amazing and it seems they just keep topping themselves. I love stargirl too and as you know agree with you about the direction of the movie. Tom Welling is truly a talented director. Thanks again for such an amazing review…

  10. moviefan #
    10

    Great review josue. You stated alot of good things about the event. I totally agree with all you said. I enjoyed the event alot. It was well done, the acting, the writing, the directing was all solid and good. I loved all the nods to jsa members and the ones we got to see more of were great. Their costumes looked great for the show’s tv budget it has. Makes you just think if we do get to see clark in a full on superman suit before the show bows out what it could be. Also i thought pam grier’s amanda waller was great. So cant wait to see where the checkmate/sucide squad plot goes the rest of the season. So all in all i enjoyed the event alot and it met my expectations.

  11. typertist #
    11

    Good beginning starting w/ your childhood. Overall, the review was GREAT! Awesome job Josue!
    I agree w/ what you said about Icicle, and was happy w/ Martian Manhunter…
    (bigge3021 has good points above too.)
    However, the direction was awesome w/ both Tom & Glen. Saying this, it wasn’t the directing. It was in the writing…IMO. Ooops/Shhhhh…I know we’re all fans of Geoff Johns, but no one is perfect. I love Geoff (really; xoxo), but this other writer that I can’t think of his name…has done a ‘bit'(just a tad) of a better writing job. The music/soundtrack is always awesome. Louis Febre is amazing!
    ~My comment/critique…BUT I’m a HUGE Fan of Smallville, and have been for years. Also since I was younger (Superman;DC comics…etc… animation;special effects galore). I LOVE Smallville! 🙂

  12. 12

    Fantastic review!! Once more you reveal the sentiment behind the show, the characters and the greatest hero of all. *bows* I can relate to you life story, the Superman obsession and admiration for Smallville. I agree completely with your character and ambiance descriptions and share you praise to the actors, directors and crew in general. And as millions of fans, I can’t get enough of Absolute Justice. It was a marvelous tribute to the comics realm and a gem for us who believe there are valuable lessons within their journeys. Thank you for this wonderful review.

  13. Dee #
    13

    Excellent review Josue. Its great to read reviews from a true fan. I have also been a Superman fan from a very young age and Absolute Justice brought a smile to my face. This movie is definitely something to be proud of as a Smallville fan.
    I can’t stop rewatching it 🙂

  14. Apple El #
    14

    Josue, it is so obvious that Superman is close to your heart, as he is to mine as well. You have put your heart and soul into this review, and I was captivated by your introduction to the Superman story as a child. I think we all have amazing stories to tell about how we all came to love this Hero.
    Smallville is also dear to my heart and I was swept away by Absolute Justice as you were.
    Your review points out all that was wonderful about this movie event and your enthusiasm makes me want to watch it all over again! This is certainly a first for Smallville, an event I will never forget, with characters that stay in your mind long after the credits have rolled. Dr Fate had me mesmerised, Ollie and Hawkman had me giggling, MM had me cheering, Icicle had me booing, Star girl (yes, I liked her as well) had me inspired by her talk of friends and family and Clark, well, he had my attention the whole way through.
    Your words summed up this Smallville movie beautifully, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  15. BlodynCymru #
    15

    I just had to leave comment since your review is so true to the fact (comics) and far from speculating, you really know your history. Well done, very nice read yet uncover what’s hidden beyond what we have seen from the pictures.
    Clark Kent is getting closer and closer to his righteous destiny. So, YAY to that !
    All the JSA members are super in this episode. Very well written by Geoff Johns.
    Lois Lane once again proven that She is the best investigative reporter our there along side Clark Kent. With only a stag of mug shots handed over to her, she can reveal the truth the old fashion way, no tech gadgets needed and bam! she tell it to the world.
    I can’t wait what’s the smallville writers’ next take on Waller’s suicide squad.


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