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Not Perfect, But It's Kinda Close
on February 28, 2010
I've always been interested in the whole Mirror Universe thing, and different series like DC Comics and Star Trek have done a really good job with it, so when I heard about this movie coming out, I knew I wouldn't be able to let myself not see it.
I had my reservations, though. I had read Grant Morrison's graphic novel "Earth 2" which focuses on our JLA against the CSA, and while that was rather well done, I knew how muddled up the history of DC Comics is (for whatever reason, they feel they have to redo everything every decade or so and make things even more confusing than they already are). This movie's writers had a lot of alternate evils do go through and work with, but fortunately, they didn't disappoint.
Both our guys and their darker reflections were brilliantly depicted, right down to their voice actors. Mark Harmon (most famous as the lead of the TV drama NCIS, Gibbs) carries the strength and heart to play Superman, while Josh Keaton (currently known as Peter Parker in the Spectacular Spider-Man series) and Vanessa Marshall, who are usually smaller-time, comedic voice actors add a humorous, colourful flare to The Flash and Wonder Woman. Jonathan Adams seems to be channeling Carl Lumby as the Martian Manhunter, but manages to do a good job giving you both a familiar feel and a touch of something new to the character. William Baldwin as Batman I was iffie on when I first heard it, however it grew on me over time, as did Chris Noth's Luthor. I guess since this version of Batman was a bit more cerebral than standard versions, Baldwin's calm portrayal was suitable and added almost a sympathetic edge to it that even the great Kevin Conroy sometimes lacked.
I won't go through the villains (or anti-superheroes, or whatever you want to call them) actors, since none of them have a particularly large range of dialogue, except for one, who I will discuss: Owlman, the opposite Batman, played by James Woods. I was iffie on this one, too, even though I like Woods, but again those ifs were for naught. Like Baldwin's Bat, Woods' Owl is a very calm, cerebral character, and a calm, quiet, focussed voice was all he needed. If the actor involved had been growly and screaming all the time, that effect would have been ruined.
Since I've just shot out two honking paragraphs on the actors alone, I'll be sparse with the story (it'll also keep me from giving anything away). It was good, had a nice flow, and didn't overdo the action or bore us with backstory and dialogue when it wasn't needed. And like many Mirror Universe stories, a lot of the fun comes from the sheer absurdity of each hero and villain's counterpart. For instance, when you realize who the Mirror US President is, your jaw might not drop, but it should at least hover, and the Mirror Jimmy Olsen? Well, if your jaw doesn't drop there, I'll be shocked.
There are some flies in the ointment, of course. One of which is while J'onn the Martian is in the Mirror Earth he becomes somewhat "attached" the President's daughter, which would be fine, if it didn't come off as a random bit of romance simply added in for romance's sake. Also, although this doesn't bother me so much, it may bother others, this movie does have a rather more finite ending than most comic book animated movies. Nothing earth-shattering or anything (...poor choice of words, given the context), just not what many of us are used to.
Regardless, the movie is worth seeing, at least renting, if not buying. Heck knows it beats the pants off of Public Enemies.