Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on February 23, 2010.  Included on the disc is a bonus animated short featuring The Spectre, that kicks off a brand new series of shorts from DC. How well does it work?

Here’s a hint: we’re reviewing it before the feature film.

The Spectre
Executive Producers: Sam Register, Bruce Timm
Producer: Bobbie Page
Co-Producer: Alan Burnett
Casting and Voice Direction: Jamie Thomason
Writer: Steve Niles
Producer and Director: Joaquim Dos Santos

Even though we receive a lot of publicity information about Warner Home Video’s releases, I had little information about the core story going on in this feature. When it opened with a ‘70s action film soundtrack (think the first Dirty Harry film) I immediately took notice.  No, it’s not some gimmick, the story is indeed set during the time period, and the creators went the extra step to make the animated film look like a product of the time, including a scratchy film effect applied to the top of the entire film.

But it isn’t just music and effects, everything about the film reminds one of the by-gone days of film making, and includes the cheesy zoom to reveal a bomb, and the shots and angles typically found in films of the era.  From the cinematic standpoint The Spectre knocks this film right out of the ballpark from frame one.

Rating: ★★★★★

And the mood continues in the story telling as the viewer is presented the mystery of the death of a famous movie producer, and the detective who does things his own way in order to solve the crime.  As one might expect, Jim Corrigan gets involved, and before too long, the suspects start dropping like flies.  We all know the Spectre and how the Spirit of Vengeance exacts justice appropriate for the person who committed the crime.  In the case of this story, viewers see three moments, each more interesting than the next.

DC makes a point in making this movie a PG-13 one, as there is a lot of violence that pushes the limit of being bumped to an R rating.  That being said, the violence in the movie is appropriate and not graphic for graphic sake.  It’s not something for the kids, but if you are a horror genre fan, you’ll like this story.
The pacing works really well, but if I had one gripe it would be in how the first two suspects are brought to justice.  I would much rather have preferred a bit more build up for two of the criminals so we could learn what motivated them a bit more.

Rating: ★★★★½

Gary Cole plays Jim Corrigan, and nails the character in a way that I had never thought about while reading the comics.  He’s the best bits of Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and James Garner.  His voiceover propels the story, and when he switches between Jim and the Spectre there’s a definite change in his acting.

The other actors also bring their A-Game to the film including Alyssa Milano as the daughter of the murdered producer, and Jon Plito as the stereotypical police captain who’s always angered by the words coming out of Corrigan’s mouth.  Because this is a backup short, I have a feeling many might miss these performances, because they are exceptionally done.

Rating: ★★★★★

From the animation standpoint, I can see the Anime influence throughout the piece.  It isn’t overbearing like some of the segments from the Batman: Gotham Knight animated movie, but it’s there just enough to make you notice.  And a quick scan of the credits will back up the influence.  Still, the animation is stunning, the colors and character designs are exceptional, and if you like good girl art, you’ll really notice it in the way the animators created Alyssa Milano’s character, Aimee Brenner.

Rating: ★★★★½

If you are going to pick up Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths when it arrives, then you owe it to yourself to sit down and watch The Spectre bonus movie.  While I have really liked most of the direct to DVD movies Warner Home Video has published these last couple of years, it’s The Spectre piece that will stick in my memory the longest.  It’s too bad that this is just a short, because I would really liked to have seen what would happen with a feature length Spectre story.  Even though there are already a series of other DC Showcase shorts in production, I hope we get to see another tale of The Spectre very soon.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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5 Comments

  1. TaZ
    February 16, 2010 at 8:22 am — Reply

    From the sound of your review, this short was pretty much based on the Jim Aparo-era Specter. I hope that it’s well received because the Specter in the “DCU” needs a serious re-do. Crispus Allen just ain’t doing it as the host of Spec. He needs a Jim Corrigan like host that still has a “human” identity that interacts with others.

  2. Ravishing Richie
    February 16, 2010 at 8:55 am — Reply

    I agree with TaZ with getting Jim Corrigan back. I do find myself liking the Jim Corrigan Spectre, especially the Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo run. I heard great things with Ostrander’s run with the Spectre, too. I just find Crispus Allen’s being tormented by having to take his son’s life to not be entertaining, but they did have closure at the end of Final Crisis tie-in. I just have my fingers crossed that they will bring back Corrigan in Blackest Night, but his physical body hasn’t rose from the dead yet.

  3. Damascus
    February 16, 2010 at 9:00 pm — Reply

    I just really hope that the voice acting in this one is better than Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. I saw an advance copy of Justice League and it has Bruce Timm’s animation style going for it, but Superman and Batman’s voice work is so distracting! Seriously, William Baldwin is the voice of Batman. If not for those two I’d have enjoyed it more, so I’m just hoping that they don’t get Pee Wee Herman or somebody so off the mark to play the voice of the Spectre.

  4. brian
    February 17, 2010 at 11:49 am — Reply

    Wow … i’ve been very interested in this and after reading your review am even more so!

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