I’ve never been a fan of the Justice League. Or any of its members. Or DC as a whole. But that doesn’t mean I’m not open to the possibility of a Justice League film being good. And is Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths good? No. Is it bad? No. Is it utterly mediocre in almost every aspect? Pretty much, yeah.
When looking at an animated film, there are a few more things to criticize than in a live action film. The voice actors and the animation for instance. And sadly when it comes to the animation, there is a bit of a conundrum to be had. If this was a television cartoon then it’d be great but compared to other animated films it’s very pedestrian. But the film has a get out of jail free card. And what is written on that card? “Direct-to-video”? Well, in that case, the animation is pretty good. I’ve seen much worse animation in other direct-to-video films and this one holds up pretty well. But enough of this visual malarkey, what’s the plot?
In an alternate earth, humanity is living in fear of the Crime Syndicate, a sort of Anti-Justice League, containing polar opposites of the regular Justice League. These include: Ultraman (Superman’s opposite who I like to call “Captain Eyeshadow”), Superwoman (Wonder Woman’s opposite who is as kinky as the day is long), Power Ring (Green Lantern’s opposite who is like Tony Soprano if the Guardians of the Universe gave the power ring to him), Johnny Quick (The Flash’s opposite who is an English person presumably was written by somebody who had never met anybody from England) and Owlman (Batman’s opposite who’s like Nite Owl if he went off the deep end). Things get weird when the Lex Luthor from the alternate earth, who happens to be the leader of an all but defeated alternate Justice League, crosses dimensions to ask the regular Justice League for help.
(Before I go any further I just want to make a little side note. In the first minutes of the film, Luthor and an alternate version of the Joker, called the Jester, steal a device from the syndicate before Jester gives his life to save Luthor’s, depriving us the chance for a heroic version of the Joker to meet Batman. Let down!)
So, naturally, the Justice League agree to help Luthor, with the exception of Batman who refuses to help saying he’d rather work on fixing the League’s headquarters. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Batman was supposed to be a…what do you call it? Oh, that’s right, SUPERHERO! Isn’t answering the call to help people an integral part of being a hero? What the hell? Nevertheless, the rest of the League follow Luthor to the alternate earth. And from then on pretty much the only thing that happens in the film is…stuff. You heard me. Stuff. They go in, fight the bad guys, the bad guy’s plan is revealed, they foil the plan and return home, stalwart heroes that they are. Oh, and Batman pops back in later to help. That’s it.
It’s as basic as it comes. It’s functional but flavourless. Which is a shame because there are a lot of opportunities here for some good character development or interesting plot turns, most of which are sadly ignored. There are only a few characters that stand out in this film. Owlman, Martian Manhunter and Rose Wilson. The way these characters act bears looking at. Rose Wilson is the daughter of Slade Wilson (President of the alternate United States) who frequently speaks out against the super criminals who terrorise the world. Martian Manhunter takes it upon himself to protect her from assassins and the two form a bond. This results in a nice little scene in which they share each others memories, both good and bad, in order to “know” each other. Sadly the scenes with them together are limited and frankly I would have rather watched a whole film based around them. With Owl Man though, it’s a different story.
Owl Man is a uniquely interesting character. He’s quiet, calculating and subtly insane. James Woods does an excellent job of providing his voice. He never shouts or yells, but instead always keeps his voice steady and calm, adding a rather scary presence to the character. His motivations are interesting as well. While the rest of the Crime Syndicate are only interested in money and power, he discovers that with the possibility of infinite worlds nothing he does matters as the opposite will be done on another world. He then resolves to make the only decision in the multiverse that matters…destroy all reality. We’ve had villains try to destroy all reality before, but not like this! It gets rather philosophical towards the end in the confrontation between him and Batman. I won’t spoil it for you, but the exchanges between them are almost enough to recommend the whole film on.
Aside from those parts the only thing that raises the quality of this film from “middle of the road” are a few inside gags here and there. Samples include the origin of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, an alternate muscle bound Jimmy Olsen being Ultraman’s “pal” (cringe, cringe) and an alternate Harley Quinn being a monkey. I’m not even kidding.
Sadly there isn’t much more to talk about. It’s just…average. Not bad, not good. A few interesting things here and there but too far in between. It keeps the viewers attention, so long as there’s nothing better going on or something shiny in sight. I really don’t know what else to say except if you want to be entertained with an alternate earth JLA story, that has good character development across the board, play Injustice: Gods among us.
But what did YOU think of Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths? Yes, you! Was it truly as average as I thought it was, or am I just an absolute idiot? Er…please don’t pick the latter. I’ve been hurt before.
See what I mean? Eye shadow!