When I first heard the title of this Warner Animation movie, I could feel my fanboy blood begin to sing. My mind's eye visited my faraway youth, where, in what would become an annual event, our Silver Age Justice League would team up with their Golden Age counterparts, the Justice Society, against some troubling menace or other on an alternate Earth. That would be cumbersome and expensive, though (I guess), so what we have instead is a smaller ensemble (though still quite large) in a version of Grant Morrison's Earth 2 from his run as writer on the comic book.
A good version of Lex Luthor recruits the Justice League to aid him in his fight against the Crime Syndicate, a (you guessed it) evil version of the Justice League. The Crime Syndicate has killed every good guy on this Earth (including a heroic Joker named the Jester), and are only prevented from actually taking over the world by the threat of nuclear reprisal from the mundane governments. That compromise is on borrowed time as the evil Batman, Owl-Man (played to perfection by James Woods) is developing a doomsday bomb. And to take the borrowed time metaphor one step further, Owl-Man, a perfect nihilist, has (unknown to his comrades) found a way to use that bomb to destroy the universe.
Crisis on Two Earths is practically non-stop superpowered mayhem, which, to be honest, is pretty much what one wants out of a comic book experience. But the real thrill for fanboys is scoping out the evil versions of our heroes that form the shock troops for the Crime Syndicate - the first major battle royal is between the Justice League and doppelgangers of the Outsiders and Justice League Detroit - and if you know what I mean by those names, then this is the right movie for you.
The mutable nature of voice casting for these projects can be problematic; Mark Harmon's work as Superman is actually pretty distracting at first, until one is swept up in the BOOMs and KATHOOMs. James Woods, as mentioned, is perfect, as is Gina Torres as the wicked Wonder Woman, Superwoman (Gina Torres is actually perfect in every way, but that is a fanboy sigh for another time). Other big names, with varying degrees of success, are Chris Noth (Luthor), William Baldwin (Batman) and Bruce Davison (President Deathstroke). (Okay, he's not Deathstroke on this world, but still...)
People get punched through walls, stuff blows up, Wonder Woman in a dominatrix outfit. What's not to like?
The menus, as are the norm for DC Universe offerings, are spare and lean, a graphic and your menu choices while the theme music plays. This is actually my preferred way of doing business, so I was happy before the movie even started.
The disc begins with a trailer for Superman/Batman Public Enemies, with an unaltered "Coming September 29th" tag, and a blurb for the current season of Smallville. As usual, most of the Special Features are re-cycled "coming soon" interview-and-storyboard teases for what were then-upcoming releases, for Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the aforementioned Superman/Batman team-up. The new featurette for their summer release is A First Look at Batman: Under the Red Hood, which is, frankly, one of my least-favorite Batman story arcs, and having the mystery behind the identity of the Red Hood removed by the presentation doesn't help. There are also trailers for Halo Legends and Naruto Shippuden: The Movie.
There is an additional and exciting feature, too: an "exclusive short", DC Showcase: The Spectre, a 12-minute tale featuring the ghostly avenger meting out gruesome (and poetic, sorta) justice to some murderers. I say "exciting", because it also showcases some animation talent outside the usual suspects in what has come to be known as the Timmaverse (after executive producer Bruce Timm). One major flaw, though, is likely due to the compressed story time: the Spectre goes after the murderers in a case in which human alter-ego, Jim Corrigan, is only tangentially involved, not allowing the police time to conduct their investigation. That seems off-character, but I also admit I haven't read that much in the Spectre line. The voice talent is top-notch, with Gary Cole and Alyssa Milano headlining.
The second disc begins with no fanfare or trailers. I always look forward to the more in-depth features DCU includes on their Special Editions, and this one is fun, if a bit scattered. The scattering is almost to be expected, as DCU: The New World examines the phenomenon of alternate universes, and the way that DC keeps destroying and then reviving vast cosmoses. (Cosmi?) The disc finishes off with Bruce Timm Presents two episodes from the Justice League cartoon series, in this case the two-part A Better World, which involves fascistic counterparts from Earth 3 taking over for their Earth 1 versions to "improve" things.
And the Digital Copy. Don't forget that.
Dr. Freex, 3/7/2010