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Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, James Woods
Writing Credits:
Dwayne McDuffie

When Justice meets its match, worlds collide.

In a parallel Earth ruled by the Crime Syndicate, the Justice League must fight their evil doppelgangers in a battle that would be dead even, except that their malicious counterparts are willing to do the one thing Batman and Superman never would: kill.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.78:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 2/23/2010

• “DCU: The New World” Featurette
• Four Bonus Justice League Episodes
&bull: The Spectre Animated Short
• Two DCU Live-Action Pilots
• “First Look: Batman Under the Red Hood” Featurette
• “A First Look at Green Lantern: First Flight” Featurette
• “A First Look at Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” Featurette
Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Featurette
• Preview


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 12, 2010)

Plenty of comic book concepts can become confusing, but few boast more potential to perplex than the multiple universes of the DC Comics. From what I understand, the concept originated in the 1950s when DC wanted to “reboot” many of their earlier heroes. They didn’t invalidate earlier incarnations; instead, DC set up the notion that there are multiple Earths, each with characters who offer variations on our own.

Back in the mid-1980s, a comic book mini-series called Crisis on Infinite Earths tried to tie all these together. It rebooted the reboot, as it were, and attempted to dispose of all the various Earths – sort of. Superhero adventures will always want their alternate realities, to the multiple Earths didn’t die off with Infinite.

I don’t follow comics closely enough to know what’s transpired over the last 25 years, but a 2010 animated adventure called Crisis on Two Earths goes back to the idea of multiple alternate realities. In Crisis, we go to an Earth in which Lex Luthor (voiced by Chris Noth) leads the Justice League. On this backwards planet, its versions of Luthor and other baddies man the Justice League, while its counterparts to Superman, Batman and the others are its villains. These nasties form a group called the Crime Syndicate that kills all of the JL members except for Luthor.

The alternate Luthor comes to “our” Earth and seeks the assistance of the JL: Superman (Mark Harmon), Batman (William Baldwin), the Flash (Josh Keaton), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) and J’Onn J’Onzz (Jonathan Adams). Except for Batman – who thinks they need to take care of business in their own realm - they head to the alternate Luthor’s world to deal with the Crime Syndicate. This means a long struggle to halt the Syndicate’s plan for world domination – and also to avert an even more sinister plan concocted by Owlman (James Woods).

Crisis doesn’t exactly involve us in a heavy plot. In truth, whatever story elements we find really just exist to set up lots of battle sequences. The main story about the Syndicate plays like nothing more than a brawny version of a gangster tale, and the Owlman side of things seems so nihilistic that it doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Much of the fun from alternate reality tales stems from the variations we find, and some of those moments occur here. I like the clever ways the “other Earth”’s characters vary the known ones; in particular, the reveal of Jimmy Olson is a lot of fun. Crisis doesn’t milk this theme to great effect, but it does derive some interesting moments as we compare and contrast the variations.

Mostly, though, it wants to involve us in a lot of brawling. Crisis would seem to live or die with its action sequences, but in truth, the fight scenes fall somewhere between those extremes. They offer reasonable action and excitement but never threaten to become truly thrilling. They do the job and that’s about it.

One problem with Crisis - as well as most superhero adventures that feature teams – stems from the need to service so many characters. With more than 10 prominent characters, few of them get real time to shine. Batman and Owlman receive a fair amount of emphasis, and J’Onzz earns the biggest arc of the bunch. Otherwise, the roles threaten to become faces in the crowd; they do their parts but don’t add much to the experience.

All of which makes Crisis a bit of a disappointment. I expected something fairly epic, but the reality seems less involving than that. It’s a moderately entertaining adventure.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. No problems emerged during this strong presentation.

Across the board, sharpness looked strong. The movie boasted consistently terrific delineation and never suffered from any obvious soft spots. Issues with jagged edges or moiré effects failed to materialize, and the image lacked edge haloes. In addition, no signs of source defects appeared.

Crisis boasted very solid colors. The film used a natural palette that favored primary hues, all of which exhibited excellent vivacity and life. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows showed nice clarity. I found nothing about which to complain in this terrific transfer.

Though I felt disappointed the Blu-ray lacked a lossless option, I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Crisis opened up the comic book material well. This wasn’t a particularly ambitious piece, but it added pizzazz to the program. The forward channels brought out the majority of the material. Music presented strong stereo imaging, while effects cropped up in logical spots and blended well.

The surrounds also contributed good information. For the most part, these reinforced the forward channels, but they also contributed a fair amount of unique material. These instances mainly occurred during storms or bigger action scenes. The back speakers brought out a nice sense of space and environment.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was warm and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded lively and full, while effects displayed good definition. Those elements seemed accurate and dynamic. All of this led to a positive presentation that deserved a “B”.

When we head to the extras, some of them provide additional adventures. A new animated short called DC Showcase: The Spectre lasts 11 minutes, 51 seconds. After the murder of a Hollywood bigshot, the title character (Gary Cole) seeks to punish the guilty.

Spectre goes the Black Dynamite route: it’s set in the 1970s and features production values typical of the era. It even shows intentional source defects to degrade the presentation. That’s an interesting decision but not one that serves the short; it’s more of a distraction than anything else.

Nonetheless, the short works pretty well. The Spectre offers a creepy character, and despite the film’s brief time, it explores him fairly well. Short and sweet, the movie entertains.

For more superhero-team adventures, we find four Justice League Episodes. These include “A Better World” Parts 1 (21:39) and 2 (23:17) plus “Twilight” Parts 1 (22:24) and 2 (23:38). “World” presents another universe in which the fascistic “Justice Lords” run the Earth via intimidation – and they try to get the Justice League to do the same. It’s clever and entertaining; I think it’s substantially more enjoyable than Crisis on Two Earths itself.

As for “Twilight”, it requires the Justice League to team up with Superman’s foe Darkseid. They combine to go against the menace of Brainiac, though this comes with various ulterior motives – but not much excitement. Maybe I just don’t care for sci-fi oriented superhero stories, but this one does little for me. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it fails to provide enough good pizzazz to prosper.

Next we locate two DCU Live-Action Pilots. We get episodes of Wonder Woman (1:13:52) and Aquaman (41:42). I thought these would be modern efforts for failed series, but they’re not. Wonder Woman is the 1970s show with Lynda Carter, while Aquaman give us a pilot from 2007. Both are fun additions to the set, though they suffer from bizarre presentation choices. Originally shot 1.33:1, the Blu-ray crops Wonder Woman to 1.78:1. Originally filmed 1.78:1, the disc alters Aquaman to 1.33:1. Why? I have no idea. Maybe the disc’s producers just got things backwards. It’s still nice to get these shows, but I’d be happier if they used their original aspect ratios.

For some behind the scenes material, we go to DCU: The New World. In this 33-minute, 14-second piece, we hear from DC Comics publisher Paul Levitz, artist Rags Morales, writers Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns, DC senior editor Mike Carlin, DC executive editor/senior VP Dan DiDio, and Batman movie producer Michael Uslan. They discuss their thoughts about various DC heroes/titles and they also trace the history of the “DC Universe”. They also dig into different “Crisis” stories.

All of this offers a pretty good synopsis of the issues that affected Crisis on Two Earths. I’d like a bit more of the history behind the alternate universes, but we learn enough to satisfy. This becomes an interesting glimpse of the subject matter.

Four promotional pieces follow. First Look at Green Lantern: First Flight goes for 10 minutes, 12 seconds and features DiDio, producer Bruce Timm, DC Comics Senior VP/Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck, former writer/editor Denny O’Neil, writer Alan Burnett, casting/voice director Andrea Romano, director Lauren Montgomery, and actors Christopher Meloni, Michael Madse, Tricia Helfer and Victor Garber. It looks at the roots of the Green Lantern and delves into aspects of the First Flight film. The program promotes the product well, but it doesn’t do much more than that.

A First Look at Superman/Batman: Public Enemies for for seven minutes, 49 seconds and provides notes from Noveck, Romano, executive producer Bruce Timm, script writer Stan Berkowitz, director Sam Liu, and actors Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Xander Berkeley, LeVar Burton, John C. McGinley and Clancy Brown. They tell us a little about the production and performances, but mostly they just tell us about the story and how great it’ll be. This program remains nothing more than promotional material.

We find an additional ad via Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess. It goes for 10 minutes, 26 seconds and includes Levitz, DiDio, Noveck, Timm, Montgomery, writer Michael Jelenic, and actors Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson and Virginia Madsen. The show looks at the roots of Wonder Woman and aspects of the movie. It actually has a little more concrete info than its predecessors, but it remains promotional in nature.

Finally, A First Look at Batman: Under the Red Hood goes for 13 minutes, 46 seconds and features Noveck, Timm, Romano, director Brandon Vietti, writer Judd Winneck, co-producer Alan Burnett, and actors Jensen Ackles and Bruce Greenwood. Like the other featurettes, “Hood” makes me interested to see the movie, but it remains a puff piece.

An ad for Sherlock Holmes opens the disc. No other movie promos appear here.

If I recall correctly, I enjoyed the multiple universe concept found in earlier DC Comics. As explored in Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths, however, the theme provides only sporadic pleasures. Essentially a lot of fighting without much story, the film remains pretty average. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, good audio and a very nice roster of supplements. This is a solid release, but the main program disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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