Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [Blu-ray]
by Sam Liu (Co-Director) and Lauren Montgomery (Co-Director)
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Video Blu-ray ISBN/ITEM#: B002YOKVUE
Date: 29 March 2010 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Whenever DC Comics decides that it's time for a new crisis in the DC Universe, you just know that the events will occur on an epic scale and heroes will die. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is no exception.
Originally titled "Justice League: World's Collide", Dwayne McDuffie's script was commissioned for a planned direct-to-video feature in 2004 meant to bridge seasons two and three of Justice League (2001). However, due to a tight TV schedule and various other problems, it was not produced then. (IMDB.com)
Thanks to Warner Premiere, the six year wait was worth it since the technology has improved significantly since then, particularly Blu-ray discs like this one.
Not only must Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and J'onn J'onzz (the current members of the Justice League) have to return with the good Lex Luthor (that's no April Fool's joke) to his parallel Earth, but they will have to fight their evil counterparts in the Crime Syndicate: Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and J'edd J'arkus. The Crime Syndicate operates much in the manner of the five Mafia families that used to rule New York before being taken down by the FBI. Ultraman is the "Boss of Bosses" and he, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and J'edd J'arkus run their individual syndicates, aided by several lieutenants known as "Made Men" such as Angelique, Black Power, Breakdance, Extruded Man, Vamp, Model Citizen, Sai, Gypsy Woman, Aurora, Olympia, Warwolf, Scream Queen, Archer, Mr. Action, Captain Super, Captain Super Jr., and Uncle Super.
Directed by Sam Liu (Co-Director)
Lauren Montgomery (Co-Director)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Cast (Cast overview, first billed only):
William Baldwin ... Batman (voice)
Mark Harmon ... Superman (voice)
Chris Noth ... Lex Luthor (voice)
Gina Torres ... Superwoman (voice)
James Woods ... Owlman (voice)
Jonathan Adams ... J'onn J'onzz (voice)
Brian Bloom ... Ultraman (voice)
Bruce Davison ... President Wilson (voice)
Josh Keaton ... The Flash / Aquaman (voice)
Vanessa Marshall ... Wonder Woman (voice)
Nolan North ... Green Lantern / Power Ring (voice)
James Patrick Stuart ... Johnny Quick / The Jester (voice)
Carlos Alazraqui ... Breakdance / Secret Service Agent (voice)
Richard Green ... Jimmy Olsen (voice)
Jim Meskimen ... Captain Super / Archer (voice)
While the idea of heroes fighting their evil counterparts is not new in and of itself, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths puts a different twist on it by taking the Lex Luthor from a parallel Earth and making him a good guy. But the twist comes when he tells them that he headed up the Justice League on his Earth and is now its only survivor since the Crime Syndicate has killed off the other Justice Leaguers.
For all intents and purposes the Crime Syndicate rules this parallel Earth - nobody defies them and lives and even the American government operates on a live-and-let live basis - or is it a case of letting sleeping dogs lie? When this world's Luthor returns to its Justice League headquarters with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and J'onn J'onzz, they encounter members of the Crime Syndicate searching for something very important that Luthor has hidden on our Earth's Justice League headquarters. And then the crisis escalates. moving inexorably to its surprising conclusion.
While I was somewhat familiar with the character of the Spectre, he was not one of my favorite members of the Justice Society of America as it sometimes teamed up with the Justice League during the late 1970s and early 1980s. That said, DC Showcase: The Spectre the exclusive animated short on both the Blu-ray and 2-disc DVD versions (info taken from Amazon.com) rocked. I really liked the nearly 12 minute story and found the photo-realistic backgrounds preferable to the more stylized ones of the main feature, even if the latter style was one I was familiar with from many years of reading DC comics with artwork drawn by Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino, and Mike Grell.
Every time I watch a new Warner Premier animated feature film, one of my favorite bonus features is Bruce Timm's selected animated "Justice League" episodes since I never saw them when they originally aired. "A Better World, Part 1", "A Better World, Part 2", "Twilight, Part 1", and "Twilight, Part 2" lived up to my expectations and then some.
When I was younger I watched Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, but I don't remember ever watching the Wonder Woman pilot back in 1975. It was interesting seeing Henry Gibson of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in and Eric Braeden, best known for his role as Victor Newman on the soap opera The Young and the Restless, but whom I remembered by his birth name of Hans Gudegast when he played Hauptmann (Captain) Hans Dietrich on the TV series The Rat Patrol (1966–1968). Who knew that Braeden had a talent for comedy?
Watching the unaired 2007 pilot for Aquaman, it's strange seeing Justin Hartley whom we know as Green Arrow from the CW series Smallville playing a young Arthur Curry before he officially became Aquaman, another member of the Justice League. With a supporting cast that included Ving Rhames and Lou Diamond Phillips, it's somewhat surprising that it wasn't picked up as a series by the CW Network. At least not on this Earth it wasn't.
"DCE: The New World" was a wonderful discussion of the various crises that have occurred throughout the history of DC Comics and even though it ran more than 33 minutes, I would have been happy with more.
"A First Look at Batman: Under The Red Hood" begins where "A Death in the Family" ends with the Joker beating Jason Todd (the second Robin) to death in Sarajevo. I cant wait to watch "A First Look at Batman: Under The Red Hood"! Is it July 27th yet?
"A First Look at Green Lantern: First Flight", "A First Look at Superman/Batman: Public Enemies", and Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess are all repeats of previews of three previous Warner Premier animated feature films that have been out for a while and which I have reviewed. But on the off chance that you have not already purchased them, take a good close look at the previews and seriously consider buying them too.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths on Blu-ray was a story I enjoyed watching several times and in the course of taking notes for myself, I found myself going back and watching entire scenes again simply for the joy of it. After I finished my note taking, I treated myself to another run-through with popcorn and a cold beverage. Treat yourself to the same.