The Justice League vs. James Woods!
In 2007 DC began making straight to video animated features based on comic book storylines. After the success of multiple solo ventures and a Batman and Superman team up story, DC decided to release Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. The film is loosely based on the 2000 comic book, JLA: Earth 2 which features the Justice League facing off against evil versions of themselves from a parallel universe. Originally written as a bridge between the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series, writer Dwayne McDuffie adapted his screenplay to be a standalone story.
The story sees a good Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) coming to “our” Earth, asking the Justice League for help in taking down the Crime Syndicate. The Crime Syndicate has bribed the world leaders to give them complete freedom to do as they please and in turn wreak havoc on the world. As their power grows, Owlman (James Woods) has discovered that his Earth and “ours” are part of a string of interconnected universes. A multi-verse where every choice and every decision creates a new world, a parallel world where the opposite choice was made.
Owlman has decided to destroy Earth Prime, the Earth from which all others are created, believing that the destruction of all worlds is the only true act that matters. As the Justice League works with the good Lex Luthor to take down the Crime Syndicate the story comes to a gripping final act which features Batman (William Baldwin) facing off against Owlman to save the infinite Earths.
The film is incredibly well done, with great animation and an amazing voice cast that features Noth, Woods, Mark Harmon as Superman, and Gina Torres as Superwoman. The film only falters in it’s length, and the lack in which some of the story is developed. There’s enough there for its 75 minute runtime, but the storylines that are interwoven during that time all feel as if they could use a bit more time to grow. It’s never that the plotlines aren’t sufficient or satisfying, it’s simply that this is a complex story that could use more time to be told.
The film does occasionally take a bit too long when we get into the battles between the good and bad versions of the characters we know and love. But this is a story that in many ways is full of fan service, and in a medium where action pieces tend to take precedence over all else. The film also has a slight Superman issue in that Superman sounds like Mark Harmon. It’s an interesting dilemma given that the film also features James Woods, a man who has an instantly recognizable voice. But where Woods and Owlman fit together seamlessly, Superman sounds like excerpts taken from NCIS dubbed into the film. It does get easier as the film goes on, but for at least the first half of the film, it definitely removes you from the experience.
Overall Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is a solid film, and a great Justice League adventure. It has everything you could want from a storyline with these heroes and would help DC realize that they could explore the team in various animated films for many years to come.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is currently available on Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital Download.