Here is came, there it went! The Smallville movie “Absolute Justice” movie aired on Friday. Being the biggest episode of Smallville EVER meant I needed a little more help to cover tonight’s episode. So in addition to my review, you’ll hear some thoughts from our benevolent overlord Matt.
Cold Open/Synopsis: Chloe meets Sylvester Pemberton, AKA The Star Spangled Kid AKA Skyman (for this episode, they refer to him as The Star Spangled Kid) in a slightly less than convenient manner, with her interpreting him as a foe and not a friend initially, and for him, because he was killed (very early, it’s not exactly a spoiler). What we find is that there is someone, or something, out to kill the previous generation of heroes that was somehow unknown to our heroes. It’s up to our heroes plus the heroes of yesterday to find the answers and stop the murders.
What Worked: There were actually a lot of good things about the episode. From the myriad of comic book references that seemed to litter the scenery, from references to the “Golden” and “Silver” ages to John Jones’ holster forming the signature Martian Manhunter costume design (that’s the X, for those of you not playing the home game.). Michael Shanks was a perfect choice to play Hawkman, as was Brent Stait as Kent Nelson/Dr. Fate. I even thought Britt Irvin was a decent Star Girl, whose performance was only stifled by a need to play Courtney Whitmore a little TOO teenager-y. Pam Grier was probably the most apt choice for Amanda Waller, and was a joy to see her seem to have so much fun with it. And while we’re at it, Checkmate is a worthy addition to the continuity, as it brings a level of menace missing since Lex left the show.
Dr. Fate’s bond with the team with Clark was also pivotal. It not only called back to an earlier moment with another character who could read fates (anyone remember that kid? Yeah, him) but it also seemed to move Clark closer on his path to becoming the Man of Steel. Hawkman and Green Arrow’s contentious relationship was also a lot of fun. Their attitudes play off each other very well and I wouldn’t be unhappy if more came from this relationship. Superhero Odd Couple, anyone?
What sorta worked: The uniforms of all the superheroes. Clark’s costume is still stupid as hell, and Green Arrow is still awesome, despite the lack of a proper mask and the fact he’s missing the Errol Flynn facial hair that is so iconic to Green Arrow’s character. Dr. Fate’s costume was surprisingly well done though, despite early indications it might be bulky and lame. Hawkman’s costume was ok, but could have been better. The wings lacked any real grace, and might have well been cardboard taped to his back. Star Girl was also a mixed bag. She looked like any cosplayer at your local Comic Con, but isn’t that kind of the point? For the most part, the all the costumes ran along these lines. The closer the costumes came to “street appropriate” (Star Spangled Kid, I’m looking at you) , the worse they look. Imagine a hobo trying to be a superhero, and that’s how his looked. Some of the lines in the show were woefully cheesy. But at the same time, they were really entertaining. Hawkman and Martian Manhunter were both guilty of this, but at the same time, I didn’t hate it. The return of Martian Manhunter’s powers was forced, and the following moment was anti-climactic (don’t want to spoil THAT), but at the same time, seeing a moment of actual green-skinned Martian goodness? Awesome!
What didn’t work: First off, retconning can be really irritating, and it went a step further when it was revealed that Tess Mercer has been working for Checkmate THE WHOLE TIME. It would have been nice if there were at least a FEW hints coming before this reveal. Hell, why not have her recruited in the previous episode or even this one? It felt really forced.Continued below
They kept mentioning “the team” in reference to Clark, Ollie, Arthur (Aquaman), Bart (Impulse), Victor (Cyborg), and Dinah (Black Canary). But have we even SEEN any of the rest of the team in the past few years? I’d have even taken a cameo from at least one or two of them, but there was nothing. Why? I don’t know.
The show was also too dependent on a legacy villain in Icicle to be the crux of the show. I didn’t find him menacing in the slightest (I mean who takes Fauxhawk’s seriously) , and his costume/character design made me think of an Andorian (nod for all you Star Trek fans out there) who listens to too much Fall Out Boy. I had a very hard time that he could take out as many heroes as he did, even if they’re past their prime.
Things to look forward to: There were MANY plot threads started here (probably due to Geoff Johns’ ideas) from the utterance of everyone’s favorite supervillain-doing-government work-team The Suicide Squad, to major hint towards a possible theme for season 10 and beyond:
“We need the heroes ready for the Apocalypse that’s coming this way.”
Now, the thing to think about: when Waller said that, did she mean a crisis of infinite proportions or did she actually say “Apokalips?” My nerd senses were buzzing at that moment, and the thought of Darkseid on the show could bring Clark to finally don the red and blue duds. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
And while we’re looking toward the future, Smallville can’t go on forever. Tom Welling seems to want to move on and it took a boatload of money and a Producing credit to get him to come back. Absolute Justice seemed like it could have been a backdoor pilot into a Justice Society TV show. And while some people might scoff at that, it seems possible. The episode brought in the highest ratings of the season for Smallville, and the premise of a Justice Society show fits in with The CW’s demographic. It could easily be a sort of high school for young heroes, with characters like Hawkman, Mr. Terrific, Liberty Belle, and Wildcat teaching the new generation of heroes how to properly be heroes so we don’t get another Icicle or the tons of meteor freaks present in Smallville itself.
Overall: It was a fun romp that paused current plotlines but took time to lay the groundwork for future episodes.
Final Verdict: 8.0 — Tune In
Addiontal Thoughts from Matt: As far as Smallville goes, I just can’t get into it. I’ve seen a handful of episodes now, and while there are slight elements I like (such as attractive actresses playing characters I like), at the end of the day the show is just too OC for me. It reeks of teen dramas that I just can’t find enjoyment from, despite the heavy DC influence the show is clearly rearing in it’s current seasons. That’s nice for fans of the books, and I’m sure fans of the show have grown to enjoy it too, but there aren’t a lot of things to pull in someone like me, who has never been a fan of the show, to tune in to a two-hour event. And that’s where Geoff Johns comes in.
What we have tonight is Absolute Justice, an episode in which Johns does the exact opposite of what he did when he wrote Legion. Legion was the team of the future. Now it’s time for the team of the past. I’m a big fan of the Justice Society, more so than the the Justice League, even though for kids of my age, the League was the thing. I just always thought that the team dynamic of the Society was better, and it features such great characters like Hawkman and Doctor Fate (who appear in the episode), as well as Wildcat and the original Flash and Green Lantern. It’s such a great mix of heroes, and we are now seeing how they’re ported in to the Dawson’s Creek of superhero stories.
Does it mix well? It mixes well enough. While the show still reeks of the things I don’t enjoy, the hour and a half long episode was incredibly enjoyable none the less. The costumes fit in while sticking out, and the portrayals of Hawkman and Doctor Fate were great. It was of no surprise to anyone that Stargirl also takes a large role in the episode, though she shines a little bit less bright. And despite Hawkman pulling off a Batman voice, Michael Shanks did a great job. The brief appearances from Sandman and Skyman (looking more like Starman) were also really neat. Needless to say, there was a lot of little easter eggs in this episode for JSA fans.Continued below
But, when it comes down to it, I still can’t get into Smallville as much as I may want to. All the right pieces are there, but I don’t think I’ll come back for more. It’s sad too – I can tell a lot of pieces are laid down for the future, such as things with Checkmate, the Suicide Squad, Zod, Apokolips, and the return of Lex Luthor (because you just know that that is going to have to happen). Plus, this episode featured Superman’s cape, which I’m led to understand is a big deal. So good luck to Smallville fans. While Absolute Justice made for an enjoyable hour and a half, it’s still not enough to recruit me into the longest running DC television show of all time.