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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Comic Books | My Reviews 24 FEB 2010

Seriously. How can any fanboy not LOVE these DC universe movies that Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics keep throwing out at us? The latest to hit the straight to DVD shelves is Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, which takes us back to the classic Justice League premise of an Earth Prime and countless alternative universe Earths making up the known universe. This time around a heroic Lex Luthor escapes his ravaged Earth and journeys to our version of reality, enlisting the help of the current Justice League, consisting of Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, The Flash and Batman, to return with him and take up arms against the mafia-like Crime Syndicate (essentially consisting of alternative versions of the Justice League members we know) which currently has his world firmly in their criminal grip.

Unable to turn down a request of such a huge magnitude, the Justice League soon finds themselves in a midst of a raging crime versus law and order super-powered struggle on this alternative Earth – though in the meantime far more sinister cogs begin to turn slowly in the background…

Superwoman: chaos and carnage all neatly wrapped up in one pony-tailed package.

Released now in February 2010, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is written by long-time DC scribe Dwayne McDuffie and is directed by the join team of Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liuunder, the watchful producer eye of DC Animated Universe veteran Bruce Timm. Following the trend now beginning to emerge in this current stable of Warner Bros. Animated features, a number of well known actors make appearances as voice actors, this time including the likes of Mark Harmon as Superman, James Woods as Owlman, Chris Noth as Lex Luthor, William Baldwin as Batman (of all people), Gina Torres as Superwoman and Bruce Davison as President Slade Wilson (i.e. Deathstroke back in our own universe!).

In terms of the story, the movie delivers exactly what you expect from a Justice League feature, namely a great ensemble of diverse character who all grab a piece of the screen time and interact constantly with one another (including the obligatory “super team” poses), sweetly lathered in loads of fantastic super-powered action sequences, some great little jibes and moments of humour and the obligatory drama that comes from loss, sacrifice and just saving the universe in general. There isn’t much in terms of character development to be had here, but if you walk into this experience as an already fan of the DC universe in general, there is simply no way that you’ll walk out disappointed. It’s just that impossible not to enjoy this epic Justice League adventure!

It is interesting to note though that this film does continue the trend of moving away from the ultra clean and goody-two-shoes Saturday animated television rules in that once again there is plenty of visual violence to be had as well as instances where the heroes take certain actions regardless of whether or not people may be injured/killed in the process. And while this may or may not be such a great thing if you’re keen on having your young kids watch these movies with you, there is no denying that it does elevate the quality of these superhero movies that much higher. Believe it or not, they somehow manage to become just that tad more believable in the process…

In terms of musical score, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths features some great compositions and these are ably helped along by a good set of sound effects and even more importantly some great voice acting. All the voice artists involved deliver great performances and I must admit to have thoroughly enjoyed William Baldwin’s Batman as well as Mark Harmon (from NCIS if you can’t place the name) as Superman.

But on to the more important aspect of this movie. The animation of course. It must be said that with each and every Warner Bros. Animation delivery the quality in terms of animation and production values just keep getting better and better. It would seem that they have now found the perfect balance of keeping the lines simple enough to aid animation but complex enough to remain pleasing to the eye and delight visually. Extremely well shaded and designed characters are a joy to watch on screen and combined with some sumptuous background designs and colouring, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths really does come out looking a treat.

(Something to keep an eye on for all you regular watchers is of course Martian Manhunter’s new design. In redesigning his character model the animators have managed to make him more alien but less jarringly so than ever!)

In summary, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is a great addition to the growing DC animated feature film stable. A strong, proper superhero yarn wrapped up in great action, tons of cameos, beautiful animation and a pleasing selection of voices to listen to, it really is a must see for all long time DC comic book fans the world over! :)

The Justice League with one minor addition: Lex Luthor!

Members of Alternate Earth's Crime Syndicate: Johnny Quick, Ultraman, Superwoman and Owlman.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_League:_Crisis_on_Two_Earths

FIFA, Snoek and Keyboard Wizardry My Life 22 FEB 2010

It was a good way to wind down the week and head into the weekend I tell you, and it all started on Thursday evening believe it or not!

First up was the five-star gourmet meal that Chantelle cooked up (she can give you all the details in case you are curious) for Retha and Miguel’s late night visit here at Nagua Bay where they regaled us with tales from their recently completed month long holiday over in Europe. That in particular was an awesome visit considering the fact we hadn’t seen them since December (Miguel we haven’t seen since our wedding!), so it was a great chance to catch up and receive some awesome goodies in the process! ;)

Another bit of fun and games on Thursday night actually came an hour or so earlier on my way home from work, when I pulled off at Checkers in Muizenberg to get something to eat because my blood sugar must have been quite low considering I was on the verge of passing out behind the wheel! But to cut a story short, I returned to my car, pie in hand, when I watched a truck slam into the overhead railway bridge, literally collapsing the poor driver’s entire container and I imagine, leaving him with quite a bit of explaining to do to his boss when he finally made it back to work! (Geez, these trucks hitting into that low bridge happens far more frequently than what I would ever have imagined!)

Anyhow, Friday I finished up feeling pretty good about myself after having completed three 20 minute sessions on the treadmill, one in the morning, one at lunch and one directly after work. No hassles with the legs, no particular fatigue, just a plain old good sensation of having achieved that! Not that I returned directly home mind you. No, seeing as Chantelle was on work duty and Ryan had just received a rip of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths movie I so wanted to see, I headed off to Bellville to join up with Karl-Heinz, Terrance and Ryan for some FIFA madness, where we slotted in a couple of games and some great goals for the next two and half or so hours! (Karl managed to finally end his goal drought and banged in three goals on the night, one being an awesome back header that completely flummoxed the keeper).

Saturday morning I broke tradition by starting the day off by watching the above mentioned Justice League movie, and man was it as awesome as I had hoped it would be. The only problem after that, was of course that nothing else seemed quite as exciting for the rest of the day! Now initially I had planned to do a ton of web work over the course of the day, working on websites, typing up documents, etc. but thanks to the oppressing 35+ heatwave that engulfed the area, I was pretty much left lying on the couches, watching anime, rugby, reinstalling Ubuntu and playing Devil May Cry 4 (and doing the much hated housework), so at least I ended up feeling fairly relaxed by the end of the day.

Funnily enough though, the one game I had been waiting for the entire day, namely the Stormers Super 14 clash, I actually ended up missing on the night, but all for a good reason it must be said. One phone call from Chantelle and all of a sudden I found myself sitting down at the table with a couple of glasses of beer in my hand and enjoying a fabulous snoek and crayfish braai with Chantelle, Wammy and Louise, and some of her guests, all under a fabulous warm summer night sky. It was lekker (and so was the Devil May Cry 4 gaming session which closed off the night for me).

Sunday however I didn’t make the mistake of turning on the TV to early and so I did actually end up behind the keyboard for the most of the day, but considering the horrible wind and heat outside, I guess it wasn’t too bad a play. Lots of blog posts neatly scheduled, an important letter scripted and proofread (well mostly anyway) and some further work on the Funakoshi website project that seems to be continuously trudging along, pretty much made up the most part of the day. Oh, and plenty of Devil May Cry 4 slotted in between. Turning out to be a damn good game, just as good as the previous one after all.

Outside of that, I did make a quick stop at GBL in the afternoon to have a look at Chantelle’s buggy wi-fi access point (as well as keep Candice and her mom company), and then later take Chantelle out for supper at the Sunset Spur after her shift ended come 21:00.

So it was a good, Melrose cheese spread filled weekend of not doing much, meaning I’m all rested up for what could potentially be quite an important week for me – though more on that with tomorrow morning’s post in case you’re curious! ;)

Review: Justice League Heroes Games | My Reviews 06 MAY 2009

Justice League HeroesThanks to Ravensoft’s excellent work on the X-Men Legends and Marvel Alliance games, we all know that the superhero genre can translate beautifully to the classic dungeon crawler-style game, and as such it comes as no great surprise that Snowblind Studio’s 2006 Justice League Heroes is an exceptionally enjoyable game.

Of course, dungeon crawlers rely on a solid, enjoyable story to make them really work well and draw in the player and thankfully Snowblind Studios have recognised this fact and come up with a highly entertaining and clever storyline that combines some of the biggest threats in the DC Universe and pits them against the powerful Justice League of America.

While the game certainly doesn’t feature as large a roster as Ravensoft’s Marvel offerings, Justice League certainly features enough playable characters to choose from, targeting all the DC heavy hitters like Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and complementing them with some nifty little unlockables like Aquaman, Huntress and Hawkgirl. In total there are 13 playable characters, six of which you have to unlock by collecting JL shields littered about throughout the various game levels.

Now if you are familiar with Snowblind’s previous titles, namely Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, Champions of Norrath and Champions: Return to Arms, then you’ll know exactly what to expect in terms of graphics and gameplay.

As per usual, the action is from a top-down, slightly isometric viewpoint with three levels of zoom and the game plays out on a variety of stages, each drawing on the particular point in the story for reference to layout and theme. There are two heroes assigned to each stage, with you as the player controlling the one and letting the A.I. Handle the other, though of course you can freely switch between the two at any point in time. However, the story does dictate that certain heroes handle certain missions and it is only occasionally where you’ll actually be given the option of selecting a hero for a particular stage.

Combat is the usual light and heavy attack button bashing affair, complemented by the single press jump and double press fly (if able) triangle button and the square pickup option. You are given a pretty powerful R1 block to use if necessary but more fun than that is the L1 modifier that allows you to deal out each character’s mapped special abilities, some which are pretty damn awesome to behold (once you’ve levelled up the skill of course!).

Each character levels up as in any other RPG dungeon crawler, though you do have the added task of locating, fusing and slotting in special ‘boosts’ that amplify your character’s attributes. The stages themselves are pretty easy to navigate, none are too big such that they become frustrating and in general aren’t particularly hard to get past. Every now and then you’ll have to deal with a boss character or tap into a little ‘mini-game’ to proceed, but for the most part the puzzles are pretty few and far between.

Graphically, Justice League Heroes is pretty par for the course when it comes to PS2 dungeon crawlers, though thankfully for a change Snowblind have decided to go to the extra effort of actually creating some nifty little in-game graphics cutscenes for us to enjoy, thereby helping to move the story forward and give you a little something to look forward to every now and then.

As per usual, the ambient sounds and backtrack are all customised to the current location and the whole game has quite an easy, enjoyable soundtrack to immerse one’s self in, with a capable selection of music compositions to enjoy. The voice acting on the other hand must be noted for not being particularly strong. A lot of the voice choices simply don’t feel as if they belong to a particular character and this is a bit of a pity because one comes into the game with voices already learnt from other DC universe resources like the myriad of animated series’ already available. Still, for the most part the voice acting is not overly forced and certainly doesn’t harm the game in any way.

In summary Justice League Heroes is a polished and very capable, action-packed dungeon crawler that will appeal heavily to fans of the DC comic book universe as well as to those gamers who enjoy a good hack/slash and level up adventure. The package as a whole is nicely polished, features a good story line that doesn’t try too hard to be overly clever and isn’t particularly hard or take too long to complete.

Enjoyable and certainly worth a look if you are a big comic book fanboy like I am.

Justice League Heroes1

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_League_Heroes

Justice League Unlimited My Reviews 16 MAY 2008

JLUAmerica’s greatest superheroes ever – organised into a single league with one singular goal – stopping crime and terror across the world! Justice League Unlimited teams up DC Comics’ most memorable superheroes under the guidance of the heavy hitters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter to present a single front against crime and acts of terror across the globe. From super-powered villains from outer space to ordinary human criminals to unstoppable natural disasters, these heroes are responsible for saving very world as we know it.

Justice League Unlimited is a 39 episode long American animated television show that is a direct sequel to the successful Justice League series and is yet another successful entry in DC Comics’ ever expanding, distinctly styled, Animated universe that began so very long ago with the award winning Batman: The Animated Series. Its selling point is the simply humungous cast of featured DC Comics’ heroes, varied enough to satisfy even the hardest of comic book fans as well as its slick animation and solid one-shot stories.

As I mentioned before, the primary heavy hitters of Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Batman are always present, appearing in basically every single episode, with the Martian Manhunter organising things above from the Justice League space station situated in Earth’s orbit. What makes Justice League interesting though is that the writers are able to draw upon nearly any DC comic book hero (both past and present) that they can think of and that makes for some interesting and diverse stories to be told.

The first season is made up entirely of one-shot episodes as is the tradition in the DC Animated Universe, which is a bit of a pity because it makes the series a little disjointed and feeling a little without purpose. However, the fact that such a wide variety of stories and characters are used throughout the run is a major saving grace. As it is, a team of established DC Animated universe writers are featured and each and every single episode is as strongly written as the next. There is a wide variety of themes and topics explored and with each heroic victory you can’t help but smile and enjoy the ride. Thankfully though a tighter sense of continuity is introduced into the second season and although the stories continue their one-shot format, they do have ramifications for the next episode which gives the second season a far tighter feeling that the first.

Visually, Justice League Unlimited follows the exact same over-simplified, stylised artwork that the original Batman: The Animated Series employed and it is this distinct look that pulls the entire DC Animated universe together. It is simple, a little flat and rather kiddy-like, but it is fantastically effective and great to look at. Of course, with today’s advances in technology, the colouring is as vibrant and fantastic as ever (even if the show leans towards a more flat colouring scheme) and the use of the occasional special effect for the super-powers every now and then is a nice visual touch too. A bit of simplistic CG is employed for the various space stations and aircraft in the show, but this little trick is never over-utilised and therefore doesn’t interfere too badly with the series’ overall design.

Of course, being an animated series means that the show relies heavily on the voice talent used and in this regard Justice League Unlimited certainly does not let one down. All the usual DC Animated universe suspects are present and accounted for, making for a nice tie in with the other shows in the DC universe. Kevin Conroy once again voices Batman, a character with whom his name has now become synonymous with, the established Phil LaMarr handles his Green Lantern duties once more, the voice of Wonder Woman since 2001, Susan Eisenberg, is back, George Newbern reprises his role of Superman and Smallville’s very own Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum handles the duties on Wally West, better known as the flash.

Actually that is quite a nice little touch because the show’s producers manage to surprise you by throwing in an established actor more than once, and during the series’ run you will come across the talents of actors like Jerry O’Connell, Tom Sizemore, Ron Perlman, Dakota Fanning, Michael Ironside, Robert Englund, John Rhys-Davies, Rob Zombie, Eric Roberts and Mark Hamill just to name a few!

Throughout the series the voicing cast does a terrific job and you’ll be hard-pressed to ever find fault with any voice used, always an important element in an animated feature. Of course, it is not just the voices that are important and Justice League Unlimited features quite a few great orchestral arrangements, including its very own (although a little cheesy) victory/hero theme music that gets painfully played at each and every battle turning point.

To sum it all up, if you are a comic book lover, in particular of the DC Comic Book universe, then you are going to love Justice League Unlimited as every fanboy should. To see almost every major and minor character, both hero and villain, ever produced up there on the silver screen is a delight indeed and I will have to admit having tons of fun trying to identify all those characters I’ve encountered in their print form before – and Googling those that I haven’t!

The stories are all well written and the fluid, stylish animation is a treat to behold and honestly, this level of quality in a children’s show is truly amazing and a wonderful indication of what children’s entertainment should be. It is a show that your boys (and maybe girls too) will love and you will probably get as big a kick as them when you sit down to watch it for the first time. Enjoy!