By: Bob Marshall
Basically the plot is quite simple; on an alternate Earth Lex Luthor is Earth 2’s best defence against the evil superpowered Crime Syndicate. He travels to an alternate Earth (Earth 1) and enlists the help of the Justice League to take down the Crime Syndicate. So basically, the people who are the villains on Earth 1 are the heroes on Earth 2 and vice versa. There is a great twist to the story which leads to an epic ending that could shake the foundations of all the multiple Earths.
Originally this film was to be made in continuity with the Justice League animated series and would have bridged the gap between Justice League and Justice League Unlimited but for some reason the project was shelved. I’m not sure what the reasons were, maybe they thought it was too similar to the season 2 episodes “A Better World” or maybe there just wasn’t a budget for it.
Watching the film you can see how it would have fit in with “Justice League the Animated Series”, obviously they will have rewritten plenty of it as we know John Stewart was the Green Lantern of that series and in this film its Hal Jordan. I also think the Flash in this is supposed to be Barry Allen and not Wally West, although I’m not a 100% sure on that. As the team went recruit crazy in “Justice League: Unlimited” this film shows the start of the recruitment drive in a sense and would have definitely been a perfect bridge for the two animated shows. I do think it is a massive shame that this never got made to bridge that gap, as it would have worked superbly for the series and the voice actors of the series are better than most of what we got here but more on that later.
The one thing I will say about this being made now rather than back then, is no doubt the animation in both the Justice League series was never as good as this. The animation in this film is superb and is one of the best they have done. As a Superman fan, it is especially nice to see a Superman whose not over sized and looks normal. In fact, the designs for this are very similar to the show “Young Justice” so I’m glad the YJ animators decided to go with this style as it would have been a shame to have only seen them used once.
The one thing the animators have always got right with these films and the DCAU is the fight scenes. Every time they knock it out of the park and this film is no exception. Absolutely incredible yet again.
As people know, I don’t like to get into spoiler territory but I feel I’m going to have to in order to discuss one of my biggest gripes with this film. The film is in a way uneven for me, firstly certain heroes i.e. Green Lantern are relegated to being background characters for most of the film and not given their fair share of screen time. That really irked me as this is supposed to be a team up film and each character got their fair share of screen time in the later (better) effort “Justice League: Doom.”
Batman disappears for a large portion of the film whilst the Justice League travel to Earth 2 to stop the Syndicate but he returns at the end just in time to save the day. One thing that always bothered me in the DCAU is the way Batman is treated like a god. Don’t get me wrong, I love Batman but sometimes he’s portrayed as so over smart he makes the other leaguers look stupid. That’s not to say I don’t like the ending, in fact I love it. It is so clever and I agree only Batman could have stopped Owlman’s insidious plot but this is a Justice league movie and I prefer it when the League has to save the day as a team. It’s just a cheap way to save the day for me, it would have been ok in the animated series as you have to give every hero the limelight now and again but this is a one-off film.
All in all, a massive missed opportunity for the league to work as a team and save the day in my opinion.
James Woods completely steals the show as Owlman, his performance in this film may be the best of all the DC animated DTVs ever. Gina Torres also gives a superb performance as the evil, seductive Superwoman. If not for James Woods, Chris Noth’s Lex Luthor would have stolen the show, he played a good version of Lex fantastic. I didn’t mind the rest of the films voice work. Nothing special from anyone but my main problem is the voice cast of the Justice League. I don’t know if I just love the DCAU versions so much I can’t quite buy anyone else as the characters. Something just doesn’t quite sit right with me. Especially William Baldwin as Batman, it just didn’t work at all, he doesn’t sound anything like Batman in my opinion and his performance ruined parts of the film for me. Mark Harmon is actually quite decent as Superman, sounding like a younger George Newbern but again I would have rather just have had Newbern or Daly. The rest of the Justice league were fine but all in all I longed for the originals something “Justice League: Doom” got right.
Just a little note on the soundtrack its fantastic and you can actually buy it on CD and I’m assuming download.
The extras on this film are not the best:
DCU: The New World – a documentary on the DC Comics writers, Editors, Artists etc post the superb series Identity Crisis, unfortunately its quite boring to watch
It has a few first looks at various other animated films.
Four episodes of Justice League the Animated Series.
Two live-action pilots Wonder Woman (the original Lynda Carter series) and Aquaman (the pilot episode of Mercy Reef that was never picked up), I’ve never watched these so can’t really comment.
The only highlight of this extras is The Spectre – a short animated film, that has an old fashioned detective feel to it – it’s absolutely fantastic but it is on the Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam DVD/Blu Ray so if you’re that bothered about it, I’d buy that and get the single disc edition of this unless you want the Blu Ray that is.
Overall the extras are pretty poor, why they stopped doing commentary’s for a time with these I’ll never know.
When I first watched this film I was very indifferent but as I’ve rewatched it several times I’ve enjoyed it more. Its (sort of) sequel “Justice League: Doom” is a much better effort in my opinion. Especially as in that film the Justice League save the day as a team, rather than another Batman saves the day ending. I feel a bit silly having a dig at the ending cause I do love it but as I’ve said above I like my Justice League to work together, isn’t that the point of a team up film rather than a solo effort? Overall, its a very good film with exceptional artwork, some fantastic voice performances, and epic action scenes. Nitpicks aside, I would highly recommend this film to any fan of DC animation.
Overall Grade: 8/10