US Animation

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Distributed By: Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            So, the other day, I was looking for a light movie to watch that wouldn't eat up a lot of my day and yet would still be pretty entertaining.  When Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths was suggested, I was surprised.  I suppose I was thinking of the Justice League cartoons I used to watch when I was a kid, so I wondered why someone would suggest this sort of movie to an adult.  Well, folks, I soon discovered that Justice League cartoons have changed over the past couple of decades.

            In Crisis on Two Earths, the Justice League as we know it are working on their new base of operations.  A satellite of sorts, this hi-tech base even has the ability to hone in on League members and bring them to the satellite station from wherever they are on Earth in a style resembling that of a Star Trek transporter without all of the dramatic lighting.  Batman (William Baldwin) is a workaholic perfectionist, driving his team hard to get the work done.  Unfortunately, the work is interrupted by an unexpected visitor.

            Coming from a parallel Earth, a much different Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) than our Superman (Mark Harmon) is used to asks for the Justice League's help.  On his Earth, Luthor was the leader of the Justice League, a unit of superheroes fighting against a Crime Syndicate whose illegal actions were often sanctioned by the government in an effort to save lives.  Luthor and his team had fought valiantly to stop the syndicate in their latest endeavor - the creation of a weapon that would thwart the nuclear threat the local government has used to keep the Crime Syndicate in line.  Unfortunately, Luthor's team put their lives on the line to secure the last piece desperately needed by the syndicate to create their weapon.  Luthor's Justice League has been wiped out and he will need help in defeating the Crime Syndicate for good.

            Batman is reluctant to help Luthor citing his lack of trust of the man for obvious reasons and the fact that the Justice League's own headquarters is less than finished.  Despite his misgivings, Batman is overruled and Martian Manhunter (Jonathan Adams), Superman, Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), Green Lantern (Nolan North) and Flash (Josh Keaton) travel to Luthor's world and quite quickly encounter alternate versions of themselves - beings with the same powers on the wrong side of the law.  But while Luthor and his new friends attempt to approach the President (Bruce Davison) regarding the Syndicate and its new weapon, their leader, Owlman (James Woods), has come up with a new plan.  He has located Earth Prime and has decided to use his weapon to destroy it, thereby destroying all Earths in one shot.  Can Luthor and the Justice League stop Owlman before it's too late?

            Now, back to my earlier statement regarding the change in Justice League cartoons.  When I was a kid, the Justice League contained the same characters and there were always bad guys.  Some storylines dealt with parallel Earths, but not too many.  There was always a lightheartedness to the tale and a feeling that the Justice League would come out on top.  Indeed, some of the stories were downright silly in nature - or don't we all remember the Wonder Twins - "form of an eagle, shape of a bucket of water!"  Nothing real serious in those old Justice League cartoons.

            If I was to learn anything from Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, it was that not only had the animation matured, but so did the storylines.  Sure, there were some comedic moments in the show, like Flash's goofy moments, but this was one serious storyline.  Even the writing was better than I ever remembered.  This was a well-put-together storyline with serious moments.  When have you ever seen anyone killed in a Justice League cartoon of old?  Sure, people have been zapped, but outright murdered - never!  That sort of thing would have been deemed too serious for kids of my age back then.  And the idea that any Justice Leaguer would utter any sort of harsh language?  The moment I heard Luthor telling one of the bad guys to get his "arrogant ass out here" my mouth dropped in shock. 

            Yup, this movie was definitely not for the youngest generation of superhero fans, but perfect for the teens and up demographic of fans who want a more serious approach to the classic cartoon provided in present day comics.  And I have to say that I loved ever minute of it!  There was action from the moment the movie opened up - lots of fight scenes, air battles, explosions and the like.  I loved seeing the alter egos of superheroes we know and love like Black Canary, Green Arrow, Firestorm, Plastic Man and more.  Their evil twins were awesome and represented everything the heroes on our Earth could have been had they let their powers go to their heads and decided to work on the opposite side of the law.

            I did have a problem with the idea of Wonder Woman being able to fly - when did that happen - but I loved the explanation of how she got her specially cloaked plane.  Batman's seemingly ruthless attitude is spot on with the Batman of today's comics and his actions at the end of the film show us the true nature of the man behind the mask.  I'm not sure I liked the goofiness of Flash, but it did serve up some comic relief, so I dealt with it. 

            All-in-all, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.  While watching it, I almost forgot I was watching an animated film instead of a live action drama.  An all-around great storyline and script with actors that seemed to compliment each other and great animation made for an intelligent and enjoyable film I would recommend to any superhero fan out there.


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