Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
Director: Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Starring: (voices of) William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, James Woods, Brian Bloom, and a roided-out Jimmy Olsen!
Scott Pilgrim vs. Michael Cera’s Increasingly Diminishing (Internet) Reputation
There’s definitely interest within comic fandom and even in a few quarters of gaming fandom – no surprise given that Scott Pilgrim hits that sweet spot of comic-to-film meets 8/16-bit nostalgia trip that attracts a segment of the population that has strong opinions on The Goonies and keeps the page counts high on The Onion. That’s to say it’s got a gen-whatever audience still hanging on to mid-decade ironic detachment who need their romance filtered through a couple of layers of something – anything just so everyone knows that they’re not taking it too seriously. This isn’t a knock against the series, which I enjoy. But it is what it is which is to say a book as much about the pop culture fishbowl of its characters as it is about the central romance between Scott and Ramona.
Now the movie has a problem which is both real and internet-imagined for the unconverted: namely the casting of Michael Cera of the slightly dim but exuberant Scott. Cera was likely cast on the success of Superbad and Juno during that period where he was kind of sort of a crush object for sensitive girls into sensitive boys. Unfortunately, the failure of his last couple of films Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and the truly excellent Youth in Revolt along with bit parts here and there have reinforced the meme that Cera is a one-trick pony and audiences are tired of him.
The question is how much play will the “Michael Cera is over” meme get upon Scott Pilgrim’s August release? More importantly do either Wright/Universal believe they have a problem? How will that ultimately affect the marketing in the coming months? I can imagine now Cera’s profile increasing a bit with more Funny or Die videos and maybe appearances on the talk show circuit – but it’ll be important that whatever exposure he gets it shows that he’s bringing some kind of new energy to this movie.
Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths
When a heroic Lex Luthor from one dimension over pops into the DCU proper, he enlists the aid of the Justice League to help him battle the villainous Crime Syndicate. You know the drill – the Syndicate is comprised of evil analogues of DC heroes, typically with variations of their costumes and arbitrarily bent moral codes. Where there’s a Batman there’s an Owlman, where there’s a Superman there’s Ultraman, where there’s Wonder Woman there’s… well, Superwoman. And so on…
Some of the character work is curious and/or shallow as well – Batman (a growly William Baldwin) isn’t interested in helping the heroes from the other dimension and Superman is fairly hostile to the enterprise based on his distrust of Luthor (despite knowing fairly quickly that this Luthor is from another dimension). Other characters in the JL roster lack anything remotely approaching character, just kind of showing up as a character set and costume design in order to duke it out with an opposing costume set and character design. It’s surprising that writer Dwayne McDuffie was responsible for so many of the best episodes of
Justice League and JL: Unlimited – that gift for characterization and ear for dialog is missing here.
There is one notable exception to all of this: Owlman (James Woods) is the standout character in the entire production and if given more room to breathe could have propelled the story to more interesting territory. In fact, the disjointed plot as currently conceived presents the real conflict as one between Owlman and Batman in the climax in spite of little interaction between the characters or any obvious parallel action. Which is again, a shame given how interesting Woods’ oily performance makes the nihilistic villain.
I had the same complaints about Planet Hulk, also directed by Sam Liu. That film was also plagued by anemic action, slim characterization, and a terribly limited scope.
Reading the Wiki entry for the movie it appears that this was something of an orphan project, originally intended to bridge the two Justice League series. Perhaps that would explain the fairly unimpressive, almost perfunctory final product.
You can find the trailer for the movie below: