Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths (US - BD)
Our Marcus takes a trip to a parallel Earth and doesn't really want to save it....
Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) of a different Earth arrives on our Earth to enlist the help of the world’s greatest heroes, the Justice League. With Superman (Mark Harmon) and co. in tow, Luthor takes our heroes to the parallel Earth and soon faces off against a bunch of super powered villains who may just be powerful enough to stop not only our Earth’s heroes, but every parallel Earth that ever existed.
Parallel world stories have never done anything for me. I honestly have only ever seen them as a comic book writer’s guilt free excuse to pit much loved heroes against slight variations of themselves. I mean, on paper who doesn’t like the idea of seeing Superman fight an Ultra man, or Wonder Woman fight a Super Woman, or Batman fight an Owl Man? It sounds like a blast to see our DC heroes face off against, what is essentially themselves, but for me I’m always left a little cold to the results and sadly Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths doesn’t really change that.
As always with these sorts of tales I quickly got over the initial intrigue of seeing the variations on our characters. I didn’t really warm to the mafia style approach to the villains' set up and as always I just didn’t care about the twisted politics of this parallel Earth. I also struggled to like the voice work for the league this time out. Mark Harmon’s Superman felt too forceful and unbalanced for the boy scout and William Baldwin’s Batman just skimmed the surface of getting it right (but of course—as always, no Conroy means Batman isn’t really Batman anyway).
It wasn’t all negatives though. I really enjoyed every moment Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) was on screen. As always the DC Animated Universe guys depict her perfectly and once they again manage to orchestrate some of the finest action set pieces to grace the movies (whether live action or animated). The scene with her scrapping with some other Amazonian super power was epically fun and the fisticuffs she has with Super Woman is Wonder Woman proving once again she’s one of the best characters out there.
James Wood’s turn as Owl Man was also pretty successful. He plays it subtle and manages to keep the character feeling distant from those around him, despite emerging as the biggest threat in the story. He also has a great face off with Batman that relies as much on Wood’s delivery of the dialogue as it does with the visuals of the fists flying.
Despite loving the DC Universe, I’ve never held these Infinite Earth stories dear. I don’t care for the ever expanding alternative characters and because of that I’m probably not the audience that would lap this instalment to the DC Animated catalogue up. That said, I found this to be an enjoyable romp that had its fair share of extended fight sequences and a satisfying climax and even if I couldn’t really care less for twisted visions of our heroes, I liked seeing the originals do there thing to stop them.
Well once again the DC Universe delivers a perfect transfer that sells their great work with a sheen. With a slightly darker palette this time out and a seemingly stonger use of shadows, there’s a slightly more filmic look to the design but nothing too far afield from what we’re used to by now.
Sharp colours pop off of the screen, with Flash’s red and Batman’s dark greys looking fantastic on screen and as always Superman’s red and blues drawing you to his iconic presence as they’ve always done.
It’s hard to keep saying the same old thing, but once again DC have provided us with a great transfer thats near impossible to find a flaw with.
No, there’s no TrueHD option with the sound again, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 provides a solid enough track even if it doesn’t seem to come with too many bells and whistles.
Outside of the solid ‘oomphs’ from the bass when our super powered heroes and villains tussle, most of the track lives in the front speakers and doesn’t really do much to call attention to itself.
Beyond the dialogue and main sound effects there’s not really that much going on in the actual mix in all honesty. With the odd beep and chirp of a computer or the whirring of a machine, there just doesn’t seem to be too much put into the soundscape for this outing and while that makes for a fairly disappointing audio experience, I don’t think it’s just the lack of True HD that’s caused it.
Opening with a rather pretty looking HD trailer for Sherlock Holmes, we’re greeted with the usual dull WB menus. I hopped straight onto the ‘First Look at Batman: Under The Hood’ (12:46 SD) to see what we’re in store for next and they do a pretty good job at selling the next release for the DCU animated catalogue (even if Neil Patrick Harris is voicing Nightwing). Of course accompanying this ‘First Look’ we get the previous ones for Wonder Woman (07:49 SD), Green Lantern (10:22) and Superman/Batman Public Enemies (10:26).
Next up on the exciting features list we get the 70s inspired ‘The Spectre’ short (11:51 HD) with Gary Cole voicing the green hooded spook. The image glows beautifully in HD with some artificially included 70s grain and artefacts adding to the pretty authentic feel to the visuals and music. The short itself gets pretty much straight to the point of The Spectre, with some slick kills, some ghostly goings on and lots of his usual judgemental dialogue. The short is nothing too spectacular (but then I'm not a fan of The Spectre anyway) but I was pretty impressed with the I.G. Productions look to the designs (with more than a couple of moments quite reminisent to the tone of Blood: The Last Vampire) and there is some fine animation on display to boot.
As usual, we get a little taster of old Justice League episodes, this time going for ‘ A Better World Parts 1 & 2’ and ‘Twilight Parts 1&2’ all running about twenty two minutes in length. Also included are the ‘Live Action Pilots’ for the 70s ‘Wonder Woman’ (01:13:00 SD) and the fairly recent ‘Aquaman’ (41:23) both goofy in their own right but re-watching Wonder Woman brought about fond memories as well as shudders of embarrassment when introducing my kids to their favourite superhero brought to life (we so need a decent live action flick!)
Lastly we get the hugely enjoyable ‘DC: The New World’ (33:14 SD). It focuses on what ‘Crisis’ means to all DC fans and details the rise of the multi character events that seems to have grown and grown over the years. The main highlight for me (and with much of the run time dedicated to it) were the stories behind ‘Identity Crisis’, the event that sort of set the DC universe off in its current direction. I for one adore this story (even though I understand why many fans don’t like the dark route it took our heroes down) and much prefer it to the over blown, over played and frankly disappointing Crisis events that have followed it.
While Two Earths is a totally satisfactory outing, it deals with an area of the DC Universe that I couldn’t really care less about. As a story, it doesn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table (outside of a great James Wood’s turn as a super villain) and it certainly doesn’t progress the DC Universe animation line down any new avenues. What it does do is provide a good reason to see our beloved Justice League get into finely orchestrated fights with almost equally matched variations and the chance for newcomers to see another arena that comic books like to play in.
The disc delivers the goods with the transfer, though sadly the audio is underwhelming and the quality and indeed quantity of the extras are slipping into filler territory I feel. Hopefully all that will change with Batman: Under The Hood because they have plenty of history to cover there and a great platform to celebrate the history of Batman's Robins.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 23rd February 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English,
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: First look at Batman Under the Red Hood, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman/Batman Public Enemies, The Spectre Short, New World Featurette, Wonder Woman Live Action Pilot, Aquaman Live Action Pilot, Justice League Episodes x4
Easter Egg: No
Director: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Cast: Mark Harmon, Alyssa Milano, James Woods, William Baldwin
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation and Drama
Length: 75 minutes
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