Crisis on Two Earths is an animated film from 2010. It was during the same period that a lot of DC animated films came out. So, how does this one in particular hold up?
We open in a parallel world, just in case the title didn’t make it obvious that this film would be dealing with a parallel world. In this world, Lex Luthor is a hero and he’s working with another hero called the Jester. Obvious Joker analogue is obvious. The two of them are taking something from their world’s most powerful villains, The Crime Syndicate. Luthor manages to escape to the main DCU dimension and enlists the help of the Justice League to save his world.
There are several major issues with this narrative. First off, the whole spiel of heroes fighting evil versions of themselves has been done in comics and comic-based media, a lot. And in terms of that narrative type, Crisis on Two Earths is pretty weak. The heroes end up in the predictable encounter where they all fight their own opposites and then it abruptly ends due to reasons. we also have a really contrived romantic sub-plot with J’onn J’onzz and Elseworld Rose Wilson. It contributes nothing and makes no sense. There’s also the ending. Throughout the story we see President Deathstroke and the authorities turn a blind eye to the Syndicate because “they’re too strong. We can’t stand up to them.” but, for all that, they manage to handle the syndicate with sickening ease when they actually try. His daughter may very well be completely right when she thinks of him as a coward since he apparently decided to kiss their backsides without a fight.
On the positive side, there are some nice little action sequences. I also do like the way that Supes figures out that Luthor is from another dimension. I also do like that Bats brings up the whole debate of whether or not they should be messing about trying to help this other Earth when theirs has plenty of its own problems. It’s something that really should have gotten more screen time than it does. Possibly in lieu of a pointless romantic sub-plot because that would have made the film more compelling.
The characters are a bit mixed. Most of the major characters are recognisable as themselves and have a sense of personality. you also get a lot of side characters who show up for a couple minutes and have very little personality on display. Then there are the antagonists. The Crime Syndicate largely comes across as just evil for the evils. Maybe the film’s writers just wanted to make homage to the Silver Age and that’s why the villains have that level of complexity.
The art is mostly pretty good. The character designs are nicely done. I do like that the Elseworld characters have very different looks than our heroes. A lot of the action sequences are also quite good. But then we get into those that aren’t so much. Like Bats fighting in the world’s shittiest robotic suit while trying to look like a badass. (It doesn’t work.)
The vocal cast in this is heavily mixed. There are some actors who do pretty decently. Vanessa Marshall, Mark Harmon, Jonathan Adams & Chris Noth all do well enough. Then you’ve got a bunch of actors who are passable and some who are absolute rubbish. William Baldwin has to be the second worst sounding Batman I’ve ever heard. James Woods just sounds completely apathetic the whole time. Like he couldn’t be bothered to actually act. James Patrick Stuart’s fake accent for Johnny Quick is pretty bad too. The music is fine.
All in all, Crisis on Two Earths is pretty weak. The narrative is one we’ve seen before and better executed, a lot. The villains are weak. the performances vary from pretty decent to outright bad. If you’re just looking for some nice action with DC’s stable of heroes, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, it’s not bad, but it is below average. My final rating is a 4/10.