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Voices: Chris Noth, William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, James Woods
Writers: Dwayne McDuffie
Directors: Sam Liu/Lauren Montgomery
Company: Warner Premiere

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an adaptation of a Justice League of America arc from 1964 (issues #29-30 for anyone nerdy enough to care) mixed in with the graphic novel "JLA: Earth Two" written by Grant Morrison in 1999. The film centers around a heroic Lex Luthor (Noth) from a parallel Earth who is trying to fight away the Crime Syndicate, a mob-like group of supervillains who rule his world with an iron fist. He comes to the normal (ish) Earth to recruit the Justice League (Batman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern) to come to his world and help him destroy the Syndicate once and for all. Luthor and the League butt heads with the Crime Syndicate, but more nefarious things are afoot: Owl Man (Woods) has created a weapon capable of destroying the world. The Syndicate has eyes on using this to finally complete their world domination plans, but Owl Man has a different idea all together: he wants to find the original Earth, the one that all the parallel Earths came from, and destroy it, thus negating all humanity. Why? Well, because humanity deserves it of course.

If you aren't already a comic book nerd, it will do you a lot of good to research these characters before watching this movie, because they do not go into any of the backstories whatsoever. You are thrust right into the story, with the understanding that the audience already knows everything about the heroes and the world. Thankfully, I know all about it, so getting into Crisis on Two Earths was easy for me.

After some sub-par releases (Gotham Knight, Green Lantern), Crisis on Two Earths is a definite step back up in the right direction. It's quick (running time = 70 minutes, which is typical of DC Animation films), action-packed, and features some great animation. Warner does not skimp when they come to these films, and the animation is very fluid and all the characters generally look like they have in either the comics or the older animated series (exception being the Martian Manhunter, who looks really off and awkward).

The story itself is cheesy and very comic-like, which obviously makes sense. The Crime Syndicate is made up of alternate versions of the Justice League members, with the main baddy being Ultraman, a Superman knock off with a New York accent (get it? It's a mafia!) and what looks like mascara under his eyes. It progresses along like you expect it to: the problem arises, the heroes go in, back and forth fighting, then a resolution in which the villains are defeated (uh...spoiler alert I guess?). I found myself really digging the character of Owl Man. A doppleganger of Batman, he is the nihilistic Batman that would have existed if he didn't embrace the darkness for good and instead grew more and more bitter all the time. He's a genius, but his intentions are not to rule the world, but to destroy it. He believes that the universe doesn't deserve to exist anymore, and is willing to sacrifice even himself to achieve this goal. James Woods was the perfect choice for the character; he's got real acting chops that lend itself well to the more dramatic elements of the story, and he actually comes off very creepy at points.

My favorite part of Crisis on Two Earths would definitely be the knock against Aquaman. During a fight at the Justice League space station, Aquaman is fighting someone, and Batman yells "STOP! HE'S MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU!", which had me laughing out loud because let's face it, Aquaman is the weakest most useless character in the DC Universe. Although he sort of redeems himself after, it was hilarious to hear because it was almost like DC admitting Aquaman sucks.
I do have some issues with Crisis on Two Earths, however. I've come to accept Batman as the character seen in the Christopher Nolan films and his solo comic adventures, so seeing him as part of a team with a sense of humor feels like it's a disservice to the character. Plus, the casting choice of William Baldwin is distracting. You don't hear Batman; you hear a Baldwin. There's also a romance between the Manhunter and the daughter of the President of the United States in Luthor's world. It felt tacked in and completely unnecessary to the story...or the character really, since each film Warner does are not in the same related universe.

Crisis on Two Earths is superfluous fun for any DC Comics fan, or any comic fan in particular. There's no deep character arcs here; it's a simple story, told in 70 minutes, featuring most of the DC favorites. You won't find The Dark Knight here, but if you are a fan of the JLA comics (or even the cartoon series), it's definitely worth a look.

Final Verdict:
B+

 


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