The Justice League animated series had a fantastic story arc called “The Justice Lords” as far as I could remember. Alternate universes and multi-verses have always been a part of comic book stories. It is always interesting to see just how far the writing can go creatively when it came to creating one of this alternate universe. Directors Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery intend to do just that with Dwayne McDuffie with “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths”.
Borrowing elements from the classic 1964 story arc “Crisis on Earth-Three” and Grant Morrison’s “JLA: Earth Two”, this film features a heroic Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) who seeks out the aid of the Justice League. Luthor is on the run from the Crime Syndicate; an alternate reality where powerful beings very much like the Justice League have taken over the world. Turning himself over to the authorities, Luthor convinces the League to free his world from the Syndicate, save for Batman (William Baldwin) who chooses to stay behind. Once there, Superman (Mark Harmon), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), The Flash (Josh Keaton), The Martian Man hunter (Jonathan Adams) and Green Lantern (Nolan North) face off against beings very much like themselves, but it won’t be easy since Ultraman (Brian Bloom), Johnny Quick (James Patrick Stuart), Power Ring, Superwoman (Gina Torres) and Owlman (James Woods) have their own super-human cohorts. Plus, Owlman seems to have plans of his own for the reality called “Earth-Prime”.
The premise of the movie is pretty simple, it is all about good vs. evil or the many ‘faces‘ of the universe and the story revolves around the action. It does manage to add some nice touches that make this alternate reality different and at the same time, very much the same from the League’s universe. Admittedly, the story lacked the raw narrative strength of the Justice League animated series’ “Justice Lords” but this was a pretty decent movie that features alternate realities and all the mumbo-jumbo that goes with it. The story is pretty well-scripted and developed. It presents several surprising twists that made the plot much more intricate, albeit its development wasn’t as strong as I would’ve wished.
I appreciated the way this alternate universe was presented. It made variations on characters that are familiar, and yet different. Johnny Quick was the alternate Flash, Ultraman was alternate Superman, Owlman was Batman, Superwoman was Wonder Woman and so forth. I also enjoyed the fact that it did not forget to make variations of supporting characters such as Jimmy Olsen (looked like Blockbuster), Lobo, Model Citizen, Vibe, Elongated Man among many others. What I truly liked the most was that Slade (Deathstroke) was the president of the United States and his daughter, Rose (Freddi Rogers) gave a hint of romantic subplot. This subplot may feel a little out of place, but it served to wrap up its narrative quite nicely. Owlman was surprisingly the more well-rounded character among the Syndicate, as he presented a more dangerous and insane version of Wayne. His goals may not be as well-defined in the narrative, but it worked pretty well for the movie’s final act.
This movie is built for action sequences, and the animation work does deliver. The movements are smooth, and the battles could get pretty intense (they even had some blood). I liked the way the League fought with their respective personalities that reflect the style in the animated series. The Batman-Owlman fight may have taken much of the focus, but I liked most of the individual battles. Flash used his super-speedster style of fighting, while Wonder Woman fought like a true warrior with a grudge. Green Lantern’s use of the ring was more creative than the ones used by John Stewart in the earlier seasons of the animated series, as reflected by the Hal Jordan ring-slinger. I do have to say that none of the DCU animated films ever portrayed J’onn J’onzz as a being as strong as Superman, his style had always leaned towards intangibility, shape-shifting and telepathy. The character designs were pretty inspired by Morrison’s “Earth-Two” but I did not care too much for the Ultra-eye-liner to make Ultraman look much more imposing than the gentle Kal-El. I thought the Owlman designs were derivative of “Night Owl” from “Watchmen” but it did not bother me much. I thought the voice-acting was decent, even though the voice-cast obviously did one or two more characters to stay within its budget.
“Justice League Crisis on Two Earths” is a good animated direct-to-dvd feature. It was loads of fun to watch and it was always nice to see Batman’s paranoia seen from two points of reality. I also enjoyed the inclusion of other less known members such as Firestorm, Aquaman, Black Canary, Red Tornado and Black Lightning as they made significant appearances. I am not sure if I should laugh or what when I saw Batman doing a homage to Ripley in “Aliens”, but hey, it did not harm the flick. “Crisis on Two Earths” is one of the more enjoyable DCU animated features indeed. Humor, action and even the Invisible Jet, what more can a fan ask for? Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]
First off, let me get this out of the way because I've read some confusing reviews (elsewhere): this is not an adaptation of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. There is an element of this story that bares a passing resemblence to some of the ideas presented in the DC Universe ground-breaking events, but it starts and stops right there: one idea of that story clearly inspired this story, so don't look to this short review to make any more hay out of that minor controversy. Besides, could anyone really … more
Essentially we have one Earth that has the Justice League that we know and love as a benevolent organization that is out to protect the citizens of Earth from foul play, and another Earth where the like powered super-powered denizens formed a group called THE CRIME SYNDICATE... which is a super-powered team of mobsters that have divided up the Earth and have been tormenting, extorting and killing all those that would oppose their reign. Meanwhile, on that planet - we have the former leader of the superpowered resistance, LEX LUTHOR - travel to an alternate Earth, with our regular heroes. He manages to convince them to come back to thwart the evildoers.