"…We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us… you blinked." Batman, once again you have slain me with your cryptic Batman-speak. What in the hell is that supposed to mean? Oh well… Batman’s round-a-bout way of trying to make a point is about the only thing that doesn’t add up in D.C. / Warner Brothers latest animated epic ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ as these animated features coming out of the combined studio just keep getting better.
Our film opens with an exo-skeleton suited Lex Luthor (Voiced by Chris Noth) and some character we are not familiar with calling himself The Jester, looking a lot like The Joker, making a run for it after just swiping some fancy piece of technology because stealing is what criminals do. But not so fast my friends because once this Jester makes the ultimate sacrifice to help his friend Lex Luthor make his escape, something our Joker would NEVER do, we quickly realize that these aren’t the same villains we know and loathe. This is highlighted by Lex staring down some somewhat familiar looking hero types before making a quick dimensional exit to find some help for his dire situation.
This will lead Lex to the earth that we are familiar with where Batman (William Baldwin) is overseeing the construction of a new Justice League space station when Superman (Mark Harmon) gets a call that Lex Luthor would like a confab. Superman observes rather quickly that this isn’t his Lex Luthor but that doesn’t mean he trusts him, but once Lex lays out the situation on his world, the rest of the heroes decide to make the quick jaunt to this alternate Earth to help out. Batman, however, opts to stay behind because he personally feels this Lex Luthor should handle his own business. I can kind see Batman’s point on this one. Help one alternate world then the next thing you know all alternate worlds are knocking on your door looking for a handout.
Without a doubt things are a little different on this particular planet Earth. The super powered beings on this world which include, among others, the Kryptonian alien bully
Ultraman (Brian Bloom), the pathological Amazonian Superwoman (Gina Torres) and the moody, dark, hyper intelligent Owlman (James Woods) in particular have formed a little alliance called The Crime Syndicate and they rule through fear and intimidation. What little leverage the government of this planet has over the heroes is about to be eradicated because Owlman has got the bomb of all bombs which will render all other weapons useless.
So the heroes from our Earth engage in mortal combat with the villains of this alternate Earth to a virtual standstill with Owlman holding the trump card to tip the balance. But Owlman has much bigger plans than simple criminal enterprise. Eventually Bruce Wayne makes it to this alternate Earth and he understands Owlman’s plan… he doesn’t agree with it but he does understand it… and only Bruce knows what to do to stop it. This is where that whole ‘staring into the abyss’ thing comes into play.
This is my second time watching this particular movie since I last saw it a couple of months ago but I was waiting for my colleague Andre to do this review. Apparently his Law School studies are more important than writing my superhero movie reviews. Someone around here needs to get their priorities in order.
Anyway, my main running problem with all of these animated films, both from Marvel and D.C., has been the mandated running time of 75 minutes. Come hell or high water these animated movies will conclude their business at 75 minutes but this is the first one I’ve seen that has somehow managed to almost perfectly balance those allotted 75 minutes which has given us an animated film that doesn’t feel rushed or truncated in some way.
Lauren Montgomery, who has handled directing duties for a few of the D.C. films, working in conjunction with Sam Liu who directed ‘Planet Hulk’, the best of the Marvel animated films, have taken Dwayne McDuffie’s script and given us a movie that is mighty heavy on action but this time around doesn’t short change us on the story elements. When you watch a movie such as this one, you like to see a story that’s ‘out there’ a little with the crazy concepts of alternate earths and alternate realities, and any time a character even makes mention of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle then you know you are in the middle of a tale that is taking itself quite seriously.
Mark Harmon and William Baldwin are getting a sound whipping in the community for not being Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy, but I personally thought they were fine for what they were asked to do, especially since this movie, as far as the voice acting was concerned, belonged to Gina Torres and James Woods. With Superwoman Ms. Torres found a way to make insanity sexy and James Woods dry, sardonic intonation of Owlman was the best voice acting in the film. Brian Bloom’s south side New Jersey version of Superman was pretty good too.
Even the side fluff seemed to work, that being Martian Manhunter’s odd love affair the First Daughter of this planet. You would hope girlfriend could find an alien from her own dimension to fall in love with.
Needless to say if you watch these kinds of movies you’ve seen this already so I’m only preaching to the choir but regardless, ‘Crisis on Two Earths’ was a fine, fine animated film. The D.C. animated films are still a step ahead of the Marvel animated offerings but the good thing for us is both companies are producing consistently better work. Now if only they could somehow break their self-induced 75 minute rule.