Parallel earths, an evil Justice League, and Batman being badasss... JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS gives the people what they want, and that this flick touts a PG-13 rating is yet one more treat. I've missed the Justice League since the series went off the air, and the solo adventures of Bats and Superman, Wonder Woman and GL are great, but I miss all the interaction.
The plot could've been convoluted, but the clear storytelling makes things easy to follow. It starts with a bare-nekkid Lex Luthor seeking help from the Justice League. Luthor claims to be from an alternate universe, one in which that version of the Justice League calls itself the "Crime Syndicate," and not because someone was trying to be ironic. The Justice League agrees to cross over to put a stop to their crooked doppelgangers, even though everyone's pretty suspicious, especially Superman (because it's still friggin' Luthor) and Batman, who decides to stay behind. I think I'll stop right there with the plot breakdown, other than to mention that, as it falls out, the stakes are much, much higher than mere world domination. The main bad guy spits at world domination.
The pace really moves. The story's good, and it's big in scope. I'm a sucker for mirror universes. But the highlights are the action sequences, thanks to some sharp animation and a pretty good voice cast (although, I miss Kevin Conroy's iconic timbre and I'm still not sure about Mark Harmon as Supes). There are several awesome battle royales, pitting the League against folks who can match and sometimes surpass them in power. Three pick of the pack moments for me: Aquaman actually not being a sissy; Wonder Woman demonstrating crunching warrior skills in her scuffle with Superwoman; and Batman's extended contest of brawn and wits with Owlman. Owl Man, by the way, is about as dangerously unbalanced as they come and in him, Batman finally meets someone who not only can outfight him but is even more detached than he is. James Woods is superb as Owlman. I mentioned earlier that I love that the Dark Knight comes across as a bad mofo here, clearly the underdog in his tussle with Superwoman and then with Owlman, until he applies the underhanded technique of trickeration on them. And - maybe a SPOILER alert here for the rest of this sentence - for someone who doesn't believe in killing, Batman sure has no qualms about offing off two of the more noticeable villains.
It's fun, also, to see how familiar faces are presented in this alternate reality, and can you identify each side character? That's not a Barsoomian; that's an alternate J'onn J'onzz with four arms. On the other side of that coin, I like that they've put the "real" Martian Manhunter in his more updated, much cooler threads. But poor Harley Quin...
Other than the absence of Kevin Conroy and perhaps the presence of Mark Harmon, the only other beefs I have - and they're very minor - concern Ultra Man speaking like a two-bit thug. I dunno, maybe I expected more gravitas coming from the most powerful despot on the planet. And I don't know that the unlikely romance which surfaces halfway thru the film doesn't feel like a filler.
Also on this DVD is the first in a series of animated shorts which will hopefully go on to feature the more obscure DC superheroes. DC SHOWCASE, in its debut, presents the Specter. This 12-minute-long short reeks of that film noir vibe, bolstered by a first person narrative and a funky 1970s-type opening score. Set in Los Angeles, police detective Jim Corrigan investigates the murder of a film producer. If you're not familiar with the Specter and his gristly brand of justice, then you're in for a treat and for a great reveal at the end. Even if you're already down with the supernatural, pasty-skinned Spirit of Vengeance, this short is still very well done, with excellent near-anime and sometimes purposely scratchy visuals and outstanding voice work done by Gary Cole and Alyssa Milano, who plays a femme fatale role.
What I've got is the two disc set. Disc 1 has the feature film, the Specter short; an exclusive first look at the next direct-to-DVD film from DCAU, BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD, and previously released first looks at three other DC Universe Animated Original Movies: GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT; SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES, and WONDER WOMAN: THE AMAZON PRINCESS. There are also trailers for HALO LEGENDS and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: THE MOVIE. Disc 2 has: "DCU: THE NEW WORLD" - a 26-minute-long segment in which several of DC's creative forces discuss the evolution of the modern-age superhero and the relevance of a shared superhero universe, from when Superman first appeared with Batman & Robin on the same cover in 1940 to ALL-STAR COMICS #3 and the JSA's debut, from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS to IDENTITY CRISIS and onwards. Also here are two bonus episodes from the JUSTICE LEAGUE television series, the pivotal classic two-parter "A Better World," a parallel Earth story in which Superman finally frags Luthor and what happens after that.
on February 24, 2010
Having bought the other six movies and enjoyed them to varying degrees, this latest entry into DC's Direct-to-DVD Library is the strongest entry so far. The plot is very strong, characterization spot-on, and the voice-work is close to perfect.
Now, I say close to perfect, because as you may be able to predict, Billy Baldwin is a weak Batman. His voice just sounds wrong coming out of the Dark Knight. Thankfully, Batman doesn't talk much. And the characterization is so perfect. Superman is leader-ish. Wonder Woman has the right kind of spunk. Martian Manhunter is reserved. Flash is playful. And Hal Jordan just blends into the background. Just like in the comic books!
I'm just ribbing you GL fans.
Like all Crisis stories, this is a visual treat. I love spotting all the alternate versions of characters we know. Evil Elongated Man, Evil Vixen, Evil Black Canary, Evil Jimmy Olsen, and "Superwoman's Three Made Men." they make me smile. And the Crime Syndicate is a good set of villains. Owlman and Superwoman steal the show, but Ultraman has his moments. Johnny Quick, too. Power Ring, eh, not much. But, its a great plot, with great pacing for the action, and it's funny! I love it.
I should mention that this is NOT an adaptation of Grant Morrison's "JLA: Earth-2." Other than a good Lex Luthor asking the JLA for help, and Owlman and Superwoman being an item, this DVD and that book are nothing alike. It's apples and oranges. Maybe because it's not an adaptation that this DVD is so strong. When you have to adapt from another medium, you have to sacrifice something along the way, to the detriment of the piece. Having this written specifically for a movie dodges the "Oh, you have to read the Graphic Novel," excuse that some of the other DTVs suffered.
EXTRAS on this Bluray are pilots for the Linda Carder - Wonder Woman TV series, and the Aquaman TV pilot, that spun-off from Smallville, this is exclusive to the Bluray edition.
Four episodes of Justice League: A Better World, parts 1&2 (AKA the Justice Lords episodes). And Exclusive to the Bluray: Twilight, parts 1&2 (AKA, when Superman fights Brainiac and Darkseid).
What is the first in a series of animated shorts, DC Showcase Presents - The Spectre, a 10 minute cartoon. It's good to see obscure characters given a spotlight. Nice and simple. Can't complain.
A documentary, DCU: The New World. It looks at the creation of Identity Crisis going into Infinite Crisis. As a person who has read all of what they're trying to describe, I found this Doc to be very "airy" - lots of big words, without actually telling me anything. Something about how 9/11 changed everything, BAM - Identity Crisis. Very disappointing. JL: The New Frontier still has the best extras.
And a First Look at DC's next Animated Project - Batman: Under the Red Hood. Which, in my opinion, is looking great.
Plus "Looks" into GL: First Flight, Wonder Woman, and S/B: Public Enemies, pad-out the rest of the disk.
A really good feature. Some decent extras. The only thing I miss are the commentary tracks. I found the bluray for the same price as the 2-Disk Edition, so it was a no-brainer which to pick: I get the the Wonder Woman and Aquaman pilots, plus Twilight 1&2 in the bluray. Enjoy, and I'll see you at Batman: Under the Read Hood.
on June 29, 2014
In this Justice League movie, Lex Luthor, a non-diabolical version, travels from an alternate universe in order to request assistance from the Justice League residing in our universe. The twist is that Lex needs their help to fight the evil Justice League, known as the “Crime Syndicate.” With new names, new costumes, new personalities, and even, in some cases, different physical features, the “Crime Syndicate” has a variety of evil motives, ranging all the way from greed to death and destruction. Will the Justice League be able to save the world again?
‘Crisis on Two Earths’ features some great animation, an interesting storyline, and our favorite superheroes. James Woods is great in his voice role as Owlman while Mark Harmon just doesn’t work well as Superman. Of course, having watched the cartoons, I’m sure I am biased in terms of the voices I expect from each hero.
Overall a great movie and one I would watch again. You will not be disappointed!
on February 1, 2010
REVISED REVIEW --
I have noticed that there have been many reviewers who've said that they don't have a point of reference for this film. First, I will provide the background, then I will give my review of the film.
This film is loosely based on the 1999 graphic novel "JLA: Earth-2" by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid in the 2003 and the 1980s "Crisis on Infinite Earths" mini-series by Marv Wolfman. Both feature a group of supervillians from an alternate universe intermittently referred to as the Crime Syndicate who are the polar opposite of the Justice League.
The core of the group features the following characters:
1. Ultraman -- Superman's counterpart; he was an ambitious astronaut who had a space shuttle accident. Aliens discovered and saved him from his near fatal wounds. Their medical assistance, while sparing his life and giving him superhuman powers caused him such post-operative stress that it destroyed his mind. When he returned to his Earth, he started his reign of terror. His deadly sin is Anger.
2. Owlman -- Batman's counterpart -- both Batman's and Owlman's relatives were brutally murdered when they were very young. While Batman made the decision to hunt down and capture criminals, Owlman learned a different lesson from this traumatic event. He identified with his murderous oppressors and became a head of organized crime in Gotham City. His deadly sin is Envy.
3. Power Ring -- Green Lantern's counterpart -- The premise of the Green Lantern is that a brave, worthy soul is chosen by a ring and he uses said ring as an instrument of justice. Conversely, Power Ring's ring, Volsthom, is subtly in control of its host and uses its human vessel for its own ends. The human's deadly sin is Sloth; his ring's deadly sin is Avarice.
4. Superwoman -- Wonder Woman's counterpart; in the Earth-2 graphic novel, she has a secret identity as editor of the Daily Globe. While Wonder Woman is something of a Amazonian diplomat, Superwoman is a viking. In comic books, she also is secretly married to Ultraman despite the fact that she truly despises him. Her deadly sin is Lust.
5. Johnny Quick --- Flash's counterpart; while Earth 1's Flash acquired his powers by a freak accident, Quick possesses his because he is taking radioactive steriods which seem to be slowly killing him. In many ways, he is the most unstable of this group. His deadly sin is Gluttony.
The Syndicate's primary nemesis is none other than Earth-2's intelligent, impossibly vain but nonetheless well-meaning Lex Luthor.
REVIEW OF THE FILM --
I don't believe in spoilers.
With that said, I want to tell the readers that the three most compelling characters in the movie were Superwoman (Wonder Woman's counterpart), Owlman (Batman's "anti-ego") and Batman, himself.
Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Ultraman, Johnny Quick and Power Ring were given very little to do in this film and the Martian Manhunter's role seemed forced. [ The underutilization of these characters was a bit disappointing and the gratuitous Manhunter subplot caused me to rank this a bit lower than I really wanted to.]
However, Superwoman, Owlman and Batman chewed up the scenery!
SUPERWOMAN --- Superwoman (and her surprising crew of henchmen) was given a lot of screen time. Her action sequences were amazing and her twisted interaction with Batman was to die for. If you ever wondered what Wonder Woman would be like if she ever stopped repressing her hot-blooded Amazonian tendencies, this rendering of the breath-taking reckless Superwoman will be a treat.
BATMAN --- For his part, Batman is presented as his most Machiavellian self. He makes moralistically ambiguous decisions in this film that remind the viewer of just how he can be. If DC decides in future films to detail Batman's eventual expulsion from the JLA (a retelling of Mark Waid's "Tower of Babel" would be an excellent sequel to this film), the viewer can point to the decisions Batman made here as part of the reason why. While there is very little examination of Batman's actions here, his teammates must have been stunned by his ruthlessness.
OWLMAN ---- And I believe Owlman will become a fan favorite. While each character's reaction to the discovery of parallel universes is unique, Owlman's is as poignant as they come. In reflection (and Owlman's reaction is certainly open to several interpretations), it appeared to me the revelation of anti-matter universes caused Owlman to have a (very understated) nervous breakdown.
James Woods does a fantastic job showing the nuances of Owlman's character. He is equally a frustrated genius, opportunist, philosopher and (in the most nihilistic of ways) nearly heroic. While many villains we have seen in the DC animated past have been driven by money or a desire to rule the world, we have never seen one who so aggressively rejects the premise the super-criminal as alpha-male archetype.
I give this film a 3.5.
I've been a fan of the Warner Brothers DC animated shows and videos for some time. This is one of the best. Imagine a world where everything is backwards, where every hero on our world has a villainous doppelganger on theirs and vice versa. A world where a Justice League led by Lex Luthor and Jester (Joker) takes on a society of villains ked by Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick. A world where the Justice League is losing.
Fortunately for Luthor, he manages to create a device that allows him to travel to alternate worlds, where he can seek the help of the alternate Justice League. And he needs that help because the foes he is facing have created an ultimate weapon, one capable of destroying the entire multiverse.
The action sequences are amazing, the voice acting superb, with world class performances by Gina Torres and James Woods, in particular, as Superwoman and Owlman. A side plot of a romance between the Martian Manhunter and the daughter of the President of the alternate world slows things down a bit but it's only a few brief sequences. These truly are foes worthy of the Justice League: powerful, murderous psychopaths that will take everything they've got to handle. Highly recommended.
on February 2, 2014
Spoilers (although if you watch this wondering if the JLA will or won't save Earth, I'm not sure what to say to you).
OK, all decisions create parallel universes. This only seems to involve humans, as no other planets *cough*Krypton*cough* have intelligent life *cough*Green Lantern Corps*cough* capable of making decisions and splitting universes *cough*Martian Manhunter*cough*. Owl and Bat go to Earth Prime. By the logic of the story, either BM stops OM or he fails. Universe split. Even before that, the second OM shows up on Earth Prime and decides to take his first step w/ his right or left foot, you have a split. Earth Prime is effectively unreachable - you leave it the second you make a decision and just wind up on a parallel Earth that branches off closer to Prime than yours.
That, and they overly ramp up Batman who goes toe to toe w/ enemies who should have a hard time not accidentally killing him, and who doesn't let a thing like broken ribs slow him down in a fight to the death against an evenly matched counterpart. Batman has his purpose in the JLA; punching a WW counterpart isn't one of them.
on April 12, 2016
I choose this rating because the movie is good. What I like about the movie is that “You people are my world's last hope.” (Lex Luthor) In a parallel universe, the lone survivor of Earth's Justice League Lex Luthor travels through other-world dimensions to join forces with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and J'onn J'onzz in a desperate attempt to save his world and its people. But the villainous Crime Syndicate controlled by Ultraman, Owlman and Superwoman will stop at nothing to maintain their domination. It will take wits, might and a sacrifice to defeat these unforgiving enemies in this spectacular DC Universe Animated Original Movie with a stellar voice cast headed by Mark Harmon, James Woods, Chris North, Gina Torres, William Baldwin, Bruce Davison, and more. Two Earths, two Leagues and one epic battle collide for a thrilling experience that will leave you breathless! What I dislike about the movie is that I wanted to see more of it. I would recommend this movie to other people.
on February 24, 2014
When you're dealing with anything that runs for a while and has a fantastical element to it, it's almost inevitable that eventually there will be an "evil duplicates" story. This is a very well executed and fun take on a very tried and true premise. In an alternate dimension there is a parallel team of heroes to the Justice League, only they're called the Crime Syndicate and they're on the opposite side of the law. When someone crosses dimensions the confrontation is inevitable.
Long time fans of DC animated material may take a minute or two to get used to some of the voices, and for me Mark Harmon as Superman never really clicked. The highlights in terms of voice work are Chris Noth as a heroic version of Lex Luthor, Gina Torres as the villainous Super Woman and James Woods as the nihilistic Owlman. Woods will especially be surprising for those who are only familiar with his more over the top voice work on "Family Guy" or "Hercules."
The action scenes are extremely well executed, with a multitude of "that's so cool!" moments, especially during the climax. Thankfully the story holds up well enough that the fights are able to be properly spaced apart and the bits in between aren't dull or boring. Given the overall simplicity of the story, this is a case where the 75 minute runtime doesn't hurt the film and it feels just the right length.
While the film holds strong, the special features are disappointing. There's no commentary track, which is usually a highlight for these releases. Even more annoying is the featurette on various "Crisis" story lines in the comic books. It's an interesting topic but somewhere along the line the decision was made that it be spoiler free. The writers, editors, etc. who talk about the comics don't even really tell the initial premise, to say nothing about the content of the comics. If you happen to have actually read all of the "Crisis" stories then you already know what they're talking about and will be ok (assuming your memory holds up well as the story details.) However for those who haven't read them all you'll be left very underwhelmed as people talk about the importance and impact of stories without letting you anything about what actually happened in them. The "Spectre" short is decent enough but it's really too little too late.
The film is worth owning, but it's not worth shelling out extra for the "2 Disc Special Edition" because the second disc isn't worth watching.
on December 27, 2014
I expected to get two discs. I got one 'special features' DVD and a piece of paper to download the actual movie. There was no Feature in the case! The case only had one spot for a DVD despite the very clearly advertised 'two-disc I ordered a DVD and I got a piece of paper! Rip off! No returns were honored even though I don't have anything to return except a piece of paper in a case!?
on February 4, 2013
look, i love comic cartoons. that's my bottom line. As such, i was entertained...and it was unique to see Lex Luthor in a hero's character...If you like superhero comics and are not a hard core "analyze the s*** out of every move DC or Marvel makes" then you'll want to watch this for pretty much the same reasons I wanted to: entertainment, seeing comic heroes come to life, and interesting new twists. Aloha.