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Monday, February 22, 2010

"Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" Review: Does One Voice Ruin "Two Earths"?

Right now, the idea of parallel worlds is in the forefront thanks to “Lost.” But DC Comics actually had the idea first with its Multiverse. And that idea is the subject of the latest DC Universe original animated movie.

Although based in comic lore. “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” is an original story written by Dwayne McDuffie. The Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) of an alternate Earth comes to our Earth to get help from the Justice League to defeat the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of the Justice League. The Syndicate plans to take over its Earth by constructing a nuclear weapon. The Justice League—minus Batman (William Baldwin)—goes to Luthor’s Earth to help and discover much more than they bargained for.

But don’t worry Batman fans, he doesn’t sit on the sidelines for long.

The problem with most of the DC Universe movies is that they try to squeeze so much familiar comic story into a movie that they sacrifice plot. But since this is an original story, it flows much better. The story isn’t completely flawless as the central villain’s motives are not entirely clear. But it’s still fairly solid.

The biggest problem is one of the voices—the key voice of Batman. Now granted, I have a problem hearing anyone other than Kevin Conroy as Batman, but William Baldwin just doesn’t work for me at all. In fact, I almost think that Noth would’ve done a better job in the role.

But all of the rest of the voices are solid, especially James Woods as Owlman and Gina Torres as his girlfriend, Superwoman. I had my doubts about Mark Harmon as Superman because of his older sounding voice, but he works well.

There is lots of action in the movie and some romance too. But it is still rated PG-13, although not nearly as violent as some of the other DC movies,.

Also included on the disc is the animated DC short, “The Spectre.” I could stand to see a full feature with this character—especially if he continues to be voiced by Gary Cole, who is absolutely brilliant. If not so good as The Spectre, I believe he would have been excellent as Batman.

And speaking of Batman, we also get a sneak preview of the next DC Universe movie, “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” which is scheduled for release this summer. Although I was disappointed to hear that Batman is once again not being played by Kevin Conroy (Bruce Greenwood will do the honors.), that disappointment was quickly replaced by the news that Neil Patrick Harris is playing Nightwing. Jensen Ackles (“Supernatural”) will play Red Hood.

The highlight of the two-disc special edition is usually the accompanying documentary that sheds some light on the movie’s story. But this documentary on the various “Crisis” storylines does not impart any real information—maybe because DC can’t explain all those stories either.

The highlight of the special edition is the bonus “Justice League” episodes, “A Better World” Parts 1 & 2. The story in these episodes is actually a little better than the story in the movie and hearing Kevin Conroy argue with himself will show just how weak Baldwin really is. The episodes have one glaring story problem, but the rest of it is so good you’re willing to overlook it.

If you’re a fan of the Justice League, “Crisis” is a must-see if only to watch them all kick some you-know-what…

“Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” his stores Tuesday, February 23rd…

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