Directors: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Writers: Dwayne McDuffie, Jerry Siegel (character created by: Superman)
Stars: William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, James Woods, Jonathan Adams, Brian Bloom, Bruce Davison, Josh Keaton, Vanessa Marshall
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths reminds me of a good episode of Red Dwarf, the highly successful and long running science fiction comedy from the BBC (2nd longest running Sci-Fi show after Doctor Who in the world) Here we have a good version of Lex Luthor from a parallel Earth who comes to the Justice League’s dimension for help to fight their evil counterparts, the Crime Syndicate. After witnessing Lex Luthor as President of the United States in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009) I didn’t think the character could be more further away from his usual persona. Here he is the good guy and a version of the Justice League in his reality are the bad guys and in particular Owlman. This is what I am enjoying about these DC Universe Animated Films. They take risks that the live action versions have yet to take. Is it more acceptable in an animated film? perhaps yes for various reasons.
Revisiting the Justice League I must admit to being a little skeptical. The reason? Well to be honest I didn’t think anything would come close to the really good Justice League: New Frontier. I felt in that film they covered the characters well and I enjoyed the storyline. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths may not be a good but its still a pretty good attempt from Director’s Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery and Writer Dwayne McDuffie.
In what could have become an overblown and bloated cast as they are all here, Batman (William Baldwin), Superman (Mark Harmon), Lex Luthor (Chris Noth), Superwoman (Gina Torres), Owlman (James Woods), J’onn J’onzz (Jonathan Adams), Ultraman (Brian Bloom), The Flash / Aquaman (Josh Keaton), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), Green Lantern / Power Ring (Nolan North) and Johnny Quick / The Jester (James Patrick Stuart) at no point did it feel that way. One of the few negatives I got from New Frontier was the shoeing in of Arrow, Robin and Aquaman at the near end with no real purpose or contributions. Here that isn’t the case, everyone has a part to play and again the cast is amazing for an animated film. I know I keep saying this and it may sound like I should be surprised because it is “only an animated film” but that is not the case. I am just grateful that these fine actors are as dedicated and passionate about these films as much as the fans are.
Surprisingly I did read somewhere that James Woods phoned in his lines from an other location that wasn’t the recording studio, but hey ho. I used to be a massive fan of Woods in the 1980’s and still love those films from that era. Nowadays he is on some political rant via social media which seems to be the “thing” for actors of his era these days. Anyway, away from the politics and back to the film and as Owlman, a character that I wasn’t familiar with, Woods actually does fine here. That may sound patronising like I shouldn’t be surprised that such a fine actor is doing a “fine job” here, but what I mean is that Woods isn’t recognisable vocally in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. In fact, if I didn’t read the credits I wouldn’t have known it was him. Was this deliberate on the actors part? who knows. As much as I enjoy the Kevin Conroy as Batman (and he is THE BATMAN in my book) and not forgetting Bruce Greenwood (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018), William Baldwin is terrific as The Dark Knight, he brings that cynical moodiness to the character and Mark Harmon surprised me even more as Superman. I felt he understood the character and most of the dialogue for both these characters was written and delivered well by both Baldwin and Harmon.
I was just getting used to Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor and maybe not as prominent or recognisable in his voicing talents I felt Chris Noth did a good job. He is obviously most famous for his role as Mr. Big in the Television series Sex and the City and it’s movie spin offs. Here Noth isn’t given the chance to portray the evil elements of the character thanks to the story, but to be fair he delivers. Gina Torres as Superwoman is probably my favourite character in this film and Torres shows us why she is involved in this movie. Torres has a natural voice acting ability that works well in this character and the actor brings it to life. Having already portrayed Vixen / Mari McCabe in Justice League Unlimited (TV Series) from 2004-2006 and more recently Star Wars Rebels (TV Series) from 2015-2018 as Ketsu Onyo you can understand why the talented voice actor stands out in this film. The Character is prominent throughout the storyline and Torres just about owns every scene she is in.
Overall, I enjoyed the storyline and plot to Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. It wasn’t a patch on New Frontier but I never went into the film thinking it would top that anyway. I enjoyed the dialogue and the right on the money humour in particular between Batman and Owlman. The animation was pleasing on the eye and the action was cut almost like live action without any confusion or disorientation from the animation at any point. The pacing of the story wasn’t drawn out in anyway and at the same time although the running time was only 75 minutes it never felt rushed or crammed in anyway considering the lineup of superheroes and villains. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths for me is an enjoyable comic book film that is justified in being up there with the releases around this time. I would recommend giving it a watch. You may be pleasantly surprised.