Directors: Lauren Montgomery, Sam Liu
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Starring: William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres and James Woods
There’s an interesting premise at the core of the new DC animated movie “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths:” Every choice we make results in an alternate reality, creating endless variations of ourselves that range from virtually identical to unrecognizable. “Crisis” isn’t nearly as complex a film as that idea suggests, but fortunately, seeing Justice League members take on their evil doubles never gets old.
Thanks to a (mostly) strong vocal cast and some wicked action scenes, “Crisis on Two Earths” is a perfectly respectable addition to DC’s recent lineup of direct-to-DVD films. (Spoilers ahead!) Seeking to defeat the mafia-like Crime Syndicate, Earth-2’s benevolent Lex Luthor — voiced by Chris Noth, who will always be Mr. Big to us — travels across dimensions to get the Justice League’s help. As usual, everyone’s in except Batman, who is inexplicably voiced by Billy Baldwin. Was Alec not available?
Aided by their stable of “made men,” the Crime Syndicate rules with an iron fist that has cowed even the U.S. President of Earth-2: Deathstroke! OK, he’s “President Slade Wilson” here, but it’s a hoot to see him re-imagined as the ultimate public servant. Superman’s Earth-2 counterpart, Ultraman, is a meathead who appears to be fond of guyliner, and Power Ring (evil Green Lantern) comes across as a young Paulie Walnuts in Spandex. In a nice twist on our BatWondy fantasy, Superwoman is coupled with none other than Owlman, whose dick-ish lines are delivered with expert menace by James Woods. When Superwoman slinks into his lair, Owlman greets her by saying, “I thought I told you to call first.”
It turns out that Owlman is less interested in conquering Earth than destroying it and all its alternate versions. As the Justice League and Good Lex race to stop him, we’re treated to some nifty cameos (Firestorm, Black Canary and Aquaman) and several choice moments. Batslut that I am, I got a kick out of watching the Dark Knight respond to Superwoman’s advances by biting her — and probably not the way she hoped he would. Wonder Woman has some of the movie’s best fight scenes, and the explanation of how she wound up with that invisible airplane is pretty clever.
“Crisis” also makes a convincing case for Martian Manhunter as a heartthrob. V. now has a crush on Mr. J’onzz, whose mind-reading skills and bodyguard services lead to a brief romance with Earth-2’s Rose Wilson. Let’s just say that the Martian way of showing affection makes kissing look about as erotic as a high-five.
“Crisis on Two Earths” doesn’t have the epic feel of “Justice League: The New Frontier,” but it’s a solidly entertaining DVD that’s worth seeing, especially with the inclusion of the chillingly retro “Spectre” special feature. Grade: B