Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Random Reviews: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is a direct to video animated movie featuring the Justice League versus their counterparts in the Crime Syndicate.  It has a bit of an odd history as it started its life as an entirely different direct to video animated movie called Justice League: Worlds Collide

Don't let Ultraman's prominience fool you, watch out for the guy with the "O" on his chest Justice League: Worlds Collide was part of the DC Animated Universe continuity and was intended to bridge the gap between the Justice League animated series and its replacement series Justice League Unlimited.

Ultimately, Justice League: Worlds Collide was never produced because they lacked the staff to produce both the movie and the television show simultaneously.  The storyline was too good to leave on the shelf indefinitely though, so references to the television show were removed and it was released as a stand alone movie with a different animation style.

This unusual history does make Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths a bit of an odd watch for fans of the DC Animated Universe Justice League though.  While there are no overt references to the show, several plot threads carry over.  Specifically, the expansion of the Justice League and the origin of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane are addressed.  On the other hand, the league lineup is somewhat different, so it can’t be viewed as a lost episode either.

Despite this, the important question is how does Crisis on Two Earths hold up on its own?  Thankfully, the answer is very well.

The basic premise of the movie is simple.  The Crime Syndicate is a group of evil doppelgangers of the Justice League from an alternate earth.  Ultimately, the evil Crime Syndicate comes in conflict with their heroic counterparts in the Justice League. 

Despite this simple premise, it is the little details that make this movie.  One nice touch is that each member of the Crime Syndicate is the head of their own criminal organization.  Each of these organizations is filled with evil versions of existing DC heroes.  For the DC Comics fan, this provides a ton of Easter Eggs as you try to determine if that is really an evil version of Vibe that just came on screen.

Another highlight is that James Woods puts in an amazing performance as Owlman (a Batman analogue).  Cold, calculating, and utterly nihilistic, Owlman is more chilling than an animated character has a right to be.

If you are a fan of the DC Animated Universe or simply a fan of DC Comics in general, Crisis on Two Earths is definitely worth taking a look.  With a story as good as this one, I can see why Warner Brothers decided not to let it sit on the shelf forever.