Review: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time Is A Disaster

Ryan Smythe ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

For all of DC’s cinematic issues with getting a Justice League movie together, none come close to the the mess that is JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, a direct-to-video, Target exclusive movie.

The main characters appear to be Karate Kid, voiced by Dante Basco, and Dawnstar, voiced by Laura Bailey, two apprentice members of the Legion of Superheroes 1000 years in the future. The problem is, they don’t even show up for eight and a half minutes into the 52-minute movie.

The opening segment features present-day Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom attempting to expand the polar ice caps with satellites that shoot down freeze rays. This will apparently cause the sea levels to lower, expanding the landmass, which the Legion of Doom owns. This raises questions like, “How does the Legion own land under the ocean?”, “Don’t countries’ borders encompass the oceans for several miles outside the landmasses?”, and “How were these satellites built without anyone noticing?” As troubling as these problems are, they are quickly overshadowed by the insufferable mess of a plot that follows it.

Just as the Justice League saves the day, Luthor gets caught in a freeze ray and falls into the ocean, lost to his time.

Flash forward those 1000 years to meet Karate Kid and Dawnstar. Karate Kid, frustrated because he has not yet been accepted into the Justice League, storms around a museum where Lex Luthor, still trapped in ice, just happens to be. Showing off just how good he is at punching, Karate Kid pretends to punch the ice, his fist stopping mere millimetres away.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

The ice breaks once the pair leaves the room, immediately reviving Luthor. Just by wandering around that one room, he discovers what year he is in, what happened to him, and where Superman was found as a baby.

His luck doesn’t end there. In what appears to be the next room over, Karate Kid is reading out loud the description of a time travelling device. Luthor, now in possession of a fully functional freeze gun that he found laying around the museum, overhears all of this, freezes the duo, steals the time travelling device, and escapes back to the past.

Instead of going directly back to Kansas to take care of baby Clark Kent himself and defeating Superman before he even existed, Luthor takes a detour to pick up his Legion of Doom. Followed through the portal by the two future Justice Leaguers, they all land in the middle of the Hall of Doom. Luckily for Karate Kid and Dawnstar, the Legion is completely blind and doesn’t see either of them.

The Legion then deliberates long enough for the pair to fly to Washington DC, take a cab to the Hall of Justice, fight Robin, and make it back to the Hall with the entire Justice League before Luthor opens up the portal to get baby Kent. For some convoluted reason, only a few members of the Justice League make it through the portal.

Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman then engage Solomon Grundy, Bizzaro, Toyman, and Cheetah in what appears to be a cross between a game of hot potato and an old-school Scooby Doo chase scene.

In the end, the Legion succeeds by throwing baby Clark deep into space, thereby changing the future so that Superman never existed on Earth, getting rid of the Justice League’s founding member. Back in the present day, Superman fades out of existence, along with every other member of the League except for the two from the future.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

Eventually, all of this is fixed by unfreezing Luthor in the present which means that he never made it to the future, learned about baby Clark, and got rid of Superman.

That only takes the plot to minute 40 or so. The remainder deals with the creature that opened the portal in the first place, and is solved by a macguffin.

A typical review does not do this movie justice. Pointing out flaws in the animation style (it’s mediocre at best), character development (there is none), plot structure (it still doesn’t make much sense), or voice acting (not even close to the biggest issue), undersells just how abysmally awful this Target-exclusive money grab is. The only possible explanation for how this exists is that someone turned in the first draft of a story, and no one cared enough to edit it further.

This movie is a perfect blueprint for what not to do. It should be required viewing for anyone hoping to go into the movie side of comics, along with the Dark Knight and the Avengers. It’s movies like this that make the Bat-nipples seem like a pretty good idea.

Overall Grade: F


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  1. You obviously grew up in the 90’s and never saw a Superfriends cartoon. That is what this is a modern day Superfriends and thank god it is. This Adult crap you have been seeing from DC movies is blasphemy since these characters are meant and geared for children.

  2. Agree in part with mike.torre, this movie is geared towards a different target audience. It wasn’t even promoted. It’s supposed to be saturday morning fun and in that category, it was very successful.

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