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Halo Legends and Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths Blu-ray Reviews

   

“Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths” is the best of the recent DC animated films.

Despite a few weak stories, “Halo Legends” will appeal to fans of the Microsoft video game franchise.

Grades:

Content: B

Picture: A-

Sound: B+

Extras: A+

The plot: The Justice League (which consists of Batman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Wonder Woman) is the ultimate crime-fighting team, but in a parallel universe things are flipped upside down. The Justice League is led by a heroic Lex Luthor and the villains (dubbed the Crime Syndicate) essentially contain variations of the Earth Justice League members. For instance, the Syndicate contains baddies like Ultraman (who is like Superman) and Owlman (who is like Batman). Anyway, after learning about parallel worlds, Owlman of the Crime Syndicate decides that he wants to destroy all of the parallel worlds. Can the Justice Leagues stop the Syndicate’s evil plan or will all of the Earths be doomed?

While I generally find parallel universe stories rather gimmicky, that concept thankfully manages to work quite well here in ‘Crisis On Two Earths.’ As a comic fan, it’s flat-out entertaining to see how everything is mixed up on the parallel universe and how the Justice League has to come to terms with the changes on this planet. For instance, I liked that Batman and Superman were both suspicious of the heroic Lex Luthor. I was also quite fond of the political aspect on the parallel universe and how the Crime Syndicate ruled over the heroes. It’s definitely a refreshing change of pace from the typical superhero story.

Story and characters aside, there is one other reason to see ‘Crisis’ and that is for the dynamite action set pieces. The animators truly go all out here with the action. There aren’t any short or anti-climactic fights to be found here. Instead, viewers are treated to lengthy, action-packed pieces with ten or more characters battling at once. The most impressive showdown here is the intense aerial battle between the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate.

Summary: DC comic fans should run to the nearest electronics store and buy “Justice League- Crisis On Two Earths.” You will be glad you did.

‘Justice League’ truly shines in widescreen 1080p. The animation is crisp and clear looking (especially during the aerial battles).

Depsite the lack of a hi-def audio track, The Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds fine. The action set pieces, in particular, are noticeably impressive.

Extras:
* Digital copy.
* “Justice League” episodes “A Better World” Parts 1 and 2 and “Twilight” Parts 1 and 2.
* Warner trailers and first looks at already released titles “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies,” “Green Lantern: First Flight” and “Wonder Woman.”
* A new first look at the upcoming “Batman: Under The Red Hood” animated movie. This story will tackle the death of Jason Todd and contain Nightwing (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). Can’t wait for this one.
* The pilot episode for Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman.”
* The real treat on this Blu-ray set is the inclusion of the liv-eaction “Aquaman” pilot featuring Justin Hartley. To my knowledge, this has never been released on disc before so I was quite excited to see it as one of the extras. Anyone who enjoys “Smallville” will certainly want to watch this pilot. I wish the show made its way to television because it certainly showed a lot of promise.
* “DCU: The New World” is an informative and interesting 33 minute featurette that covers the various crisis series and the current DC universe. Included are interviews with Geoff Johns, Brad Metzler, Dan DiDio, etc. If you want to know more about DC comics in general, check this out.
* As if the extras couldn’t get any better, there’s a new DC Showcase extra which is essentially a short 11 ½ minute animated feature. This one focuses on the little known character “The Spectre.” This is a stylish, dark, noir, Grindhouse esque story about a dead police offier who masquerades as a supernatural spirit whose mission to eliminate criminals.

Halo Legends Blu-ray

“Halo Legends” contains 7 animated/anime esque tales titled “Origins” 1 and 2, “The Duel,” “Homecoming,” “Odd One Out,” “Prototype,” “The Babysitter,” and “The Package.” The two part “Origins” deals with the backstory of the universe involving the Flood, the Forerunners, the creation of the Halo weapon, humanity’s obsession with war, and the Covenant. “The Duel” focuses on the Arbiter character, “Homecoming” involves a Spartan-II soldier, “Odd One Out” is a rather silly, comedic story about Spartan soldier 1337, “Prototype” sees the introduction of a prototype battle suit, “The Babysitter” involves a mission between Orbital Drop Shock Troopers and a Spartan soldier on a mission to take out a Prophet and “The Package” sees a group of Spartans rescuing something mysterious from a Covenant ship.

If you aren’t one of the millions of fans that play the fantastic “Halo” video games, this animated release might not be up your alley. Yes, the “Origins” two-parter does a fine job of getting viewers up to speed on the universe, but even then you’re still not getting the whole picture and you might be confused about what is going on in these stories. Basically, ‘Legends’ is for the dedicated fans of the franchise and those fans should step away from their XBOX and pop in this Blu-ray release because they’re in for some quality entertainment here.

While a few stories, such as the goofy “Odd One Out” and the snooze-worthy “Homecoming,” feel like filler, the 5 other tales are almost guaranteed to please fans of the franchise. The two absolute must-see segments here are without question “The Babysitter” and “The Package.” ‘Babysitter’ is an intense mission story that explores some of the dynamics between the various factions of soldiers (ie the ODST and Spartans). It also really shows how powerful the Spartan warriors can be. “The Package” also focuses heavily on the almost super powered Spartan soldiers. The major difference between this and ‘Babysitter,’ however, is that ‘Package’ is filled with explosive eye-popping space/ground battle sequences and gorgeous 3D animation. It’s a shame this story wasn’t feature length because it’s far and away the highlight here.

Summary: The stories might be hit-and-miss, but “Halo” aficiandos should certainly check this disc out.

Grades:

Content: B-

Picture: A

Sound: B+

Extras: B

The 1.78:1 1080p picture quality gets a big round of applause from this reviewer. “The Package” especially looks stunning on Blu-ray.

This disc is begging for a hi-def track, but unfortunately, all we get is a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. While the track is decent, the iconic “Halo” music and the explosive battle sequences should be presented in a TrueHD track.

Extras:

* “Halo Reach” and “Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths” trailers.  
* “Halo: The Story So Far”- For those who haven’t played the games, this is an informative featurette on the story of the Halo universe in the first 3 games.
* “The Making Of Halo Legends”- An in depth making of that contains interviews and info. about each of the seven segments.
* Commentary by Frank O’Connor and Joseph Chou. Skip this and watch the making of featurettes instead.
* “Halo: Gaming Evolved”- A fun featurette that covers the birth of the Halo series, the impact it had on console gaming, and its incredible popularity.

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February 18, 2010 - Posted by | 1 | , , , , , ,

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