Movie ReviewsJosh Reviews Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two

Josh Reviews Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two

DC/Warner Brothers seems to be wrapping up their “Tomorrowverse” continuity of animated films with a three-part adaptation of the seminal 1985-86 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths (by Marv Wolfman and George Perez).  I was excited by the idea of a three-movie adaptation of Crisis.  That seemed like an ambitious way to allow this universe-shaking story the epic canvas it deserves.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed by Part One (click here for my review), and I’m sad to report I didn’t see any improvement here in Part Two.

The opening scene of the story is emblematic of the movie’s problems.  We start with an action sequence in which the “Tomorrowverse” Batman is allied with various members of the extended Bat-Family drawn from different multiverses.  This should be exciting!  It makes sense to kick off the film with a big action sequence, and the idea of bringing together all of these disparate Bat-family characters — including Batman Beyond, from the beloved Bruce Timm animated series from the nineties/early aughts!! — should be thrilling!  But instead, I thought the sequence was flat and dull.  It just sort of lays there.  The lines are delivered too slowly, the music is dull.  Worse, they don’t make any effort to give us any fun interplay between the Bat characters.  No one has any sort of characterization.  Come on!  Let’s see them play off of one another!  Let’s see how they react to one another!  It’s cool to see Batman Beyond, but he doesn’t even have a line??  That’s so lame!  The character should be a chatterbox.  (My assumption was that they didn’t want to pay to bring back original voice actor Will Friedle… but the crazy thing is that they did!  The character has one line later in the movie, and Will Friedle is in the end credits!  Why bring him back and not give him anything to do??  What a waste!)

I thought at least that prologue would launch us into the film’s main story.  But instead, we then are taken into two additional lengthy intertwined prologues, the origins of Harbinger (presented as Supergirl in this version, which is different from the comics) and Psycho Pirate.  Those are actually both interesting stories.  The Psycho Pirate one is really grim and creepy!  But what a strange way to open this crossover superhero epic.  We’re almost a third of the way into the film before we get to any sense of the larger multiversal story that is being told.  (I wonder if the Batman prologue wasn’t originally intended to open the film, but they felt they had to put some multiverse stuff at the top. That could explain why it feels out of place… but not why the sequence itself is so lifeless.)

When we do finally catch up with the end of the last movie, I was ready for this film to kick into gear… but it never happened the way I wanted.  I never felt I ever quite understood what was happening or felt a sense of actual stakes.  (What exactly is going on?  The antimatter wave destroys universes but travels within universes?  It’s targeting Earths specifically?  Or do our characters just only care about Earth and no other planets?  Am I to understand that the superheroes somehow built protective towers in EVERY universe across the multiverse??  That seems impossible.)  I wish they’d clarified what was going on, and done more to explore the characters being affected by all this.  Without any of that, I didn’t feel any connection to the story being told.  It just sort of passed me by.

The film doesn’t even build to an exciting cliffhanger!  It just sort of ends.  What a weird choice!

I like this voice cast.  I wish they had more to play.  Darren Criss, Jensen Ackles, and Stana Katic sound great as the big three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman).  Meg Donnelly is terrific as Supergirl.  Jonathan Adam’s deep voice is perfect for The Monitor.  I really like Aldis Hodge as Green Lantern Jon Stewart, but it’s egregious that he doesn’t have more to do in the story.

Other thoughts:

  • In every incarnation of Crisis, including the original comic book series, I never found the shadow demons that interesting of a threat.  (The lack of a compelling villain hurts this installment.)  The shadow demons are also inconsistent; they’re mostly ineffective except for when the plot needs them to suddenly start killing characters.
  • I wish it felt like the Monitor and the assembled heroes had some sort of intelligent plan.  The scattering of heroes across universes seem so random.  We have only two low-powered characters sent to one universe, Kamandi and the gorilla Solovar, but another universe gets Superman, Green Lantern, and Dr. Light (whose powers can actually affect the shadow demons) all together?
  • Pariah is John Constantine?  That’s another interesting change from the original comics.  (It would have been more of a surprise had I not recognized Matt Ryan’s voice!)
  • I don’t love how the Monitors are portrayed here as being exactly like the Watchers from the Marvel universe.  (I do like that Supergirl is the reason the Monitor decides to act.  It’s always a dicey story point in these sorts of stories, in which the character who has sworn non-interference gives up their vow and gets involved.  Often I don’t feel like I really buy that they would make that choice.  But I like what they did here.)
  • Can I complain again what a waste it was that they brought back Will Friedle as Batman Beyond and didn’t give him anything to do?  All of the Bat-family scenes represent a huge missed opportunity.  They kill off Jim Gordon (a gutsy move!) and don’t show us any reaction from Barbara Gordon/Batgirl??  Crazy!  I liked seeing Batwing (Lucas Fox) — but come on!  Give him one cool line, or one cool moment!

Whoof.  This was a disappointment for me.  I was interested in this “Tomorrowverse” universe of animated DC films when it began, but it feels to me like it’s really petered out.  (The same thing happened with the previous continuity of animated films, which began with Justice League: War and ended with Apokolips War.)  I’m not sure what will happen to these animated films after Part Three.  Is that a wrap on these projects?  Will everything that comes out after that be tied to James Gunn’s new DC film and TV continuity?  I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

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