Crisis on Earth-X: Full Review

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So instead of simply reviewing Supergirl this week, here is a full rundown of the four part “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover. While taking place over the four CW DC series, this year’s crossover felt much more like one whole rather than four separate parts that happen to have the same characters. They set the stage very quickly, utilizing The Flash’s King Shark as a throwaway villain and having Kara knock out a Dominator and declaring them “so last year.” Then poor Jimmy Olsen gets to introduce our new big bads, I can’t say I was disappointed that Earth-X Guardian got killed so early on. But to his credit the scene hit hard and established stakes right away.

While the four-parter was basically one long movie I have to say part one, Supergirl’s episode, was by far my favorite. The wedding stuff, all our characters getting to interact, some for the first time some reconnecting to old friends, all great. The Spider-Man references from Stein and Jefferson added to the theory that Marvel exists as a comic company within the CW universe which I am all for. Let’s get some love between these two companies and put all the DC vs Marvel stuff to bed.

The really surprising thing was how well everyone blended together here. Kara and the rest of the girls felt like longtime friends. It makes me think the casts might hang out off screen because the chemistry is just fantastic. Alex and Sarah hooking up was a perfect side story for the team-up and led to some great gags while also helping their characters grow. From their initial meeting and Sarah’s eyebrow raise at finding out Alex is gay, Alex sneaking out the next day, all the way to Rory’s “you hit that?” tag, just downright perfect.

The actual wedding was beautiful, with most of our heroes and side characters in attendance, Rory gets a nice moment with Barry’s captain, and then Barry’s request to Kara. I immediately knew she was going to sing but I never would have guessed it would be a reprise of Barry’s song to Iris from last year … fantastic! God I hope we get another musical episode this year but this was a nice treat in the meantime.

A couple other small asides from the wedding. The caterer who approaches Barry and tells him to remember to say “I do” before taking his hand, she’s no mere extra and I sense them seeding a future story. My guess? She’s Barry and Iris’s Speedster daughter (or granddaughter) from the future, come back to see their big day. The other insider touch was the minister, the poor schmuck gets vaporized by the Earth-X armies before completing the ceremony but if he looked familiar at first it’s because he was played by William Katt, star of the eighties’ The Greatest American Hero. Not a DC property but still a pop culture touchstone for superheroes on television.

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It’s after all of this fun and great moments that we get the first big team-up of the crossover, when Earth-X’s Nazi army arrives and we get an amazing, fantastic, can I add some more adjectives, fricking awesome battle scene! The CG is solid, the blocking is great, we get a super clap worthy of the Hulk. The only drawback to this battle is nothing else in the crossover quite hits the same high note as this one does. They get close but this was my absolute favorite action scene.

It’s after this that there is a clear shift in tone and direction as the remaining three episodes are very much the battle with the fifty third Earth, Earth-X. A Nazi controlled evil world where Kara and Oliver lead the goose-stepping armies.

A surprising element to these sections were how much character development is covered. Usually a crossover would try and not change the status quo for any characters unless on “their” episode, but here we get interactions and repercussions for people on all shows at any given time. This is part of the reason it felt more like one cohesive story rather than something split up and handled by different crews.

Some highlights from Part 2 (Arrow):

Tommy Merlin as Prometheus! Colin Donnell has been off Arrow, aside from a brief cameo, since season one. Popping on as X’s version of Prometheus only to commit suicide gave fans a treat, kept his shooting time to maybe half a day, and provided yet another big death to add gravitas to the whole thing.

Kara and Barry waiting for Oliver was hysterical and if they weren’t making Arrow into Batman before, that Kryptonite arrow and Kara / Olivers discussion of it? He’s basically Batman now.

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That suit up montage … Yes! It was just bad ass and every fanboy’s dream, and it’s not the last time either, we’ll circle back later.

Everything Mick Rory does. Just assume this for each and every section of this review. He gets used sparingly, peppered through scenes for comedic effect and every single damn time I laughed harder than the last. He was one of my favorite things of the whole crossover.

Evil Kara / Ollie / Wells (Thawne), great stuff! Amell is the weakest of the three here but they all seem to be having fun and stretching their legs. Tom Cavanagh is always delicious as Thawne and it felt like he was guiding the others.

This brings us to a few minor complaints for this section.

The reasoning for why Earth-1 Thawne is involved and why he’s back in Well’s face? Thin at best, the kind of writing that says blah blah blah, just accept this nonsense and move on.

Metallo … Nice to see a one-off villain from an old episode show up, the first of a few, but the CG on him? Oh boy, that was rough.

Some cool action shots but a bit too shaky now and then and a couple scenes blocked very oddly.

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It all ends up with most of our heroes captured or incapacitated and who is left to save the day? Felicity and Iris! While not terribly believable, it was a fun aside and a nice bit to give to our two cast members who spend most of their time as damsels or pining for their superhero boy-toys.

On Earth-X the budget started to show itself a bit, as that “world” consisted of a concentration camp that was basically just a fence, one bunker and a redressed Arrow set. But making up for that we got Detective Lance’s evil doppelganger going full Nazi and a creepy ass scene with a great use of the song “Edelweiss”.

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This section dragged a bit, the most of the four parts, but still thoroughly entertaining. We got the return of Captain Cold, albeit Earth-X’s version, on this earth he’s a hero, and gay and dating another hero somehow got over from Earth-1, The Ray. Definitely setting him up for future adventures, The Ray felt a bit shoehorned in but it was still fun just dropping a brand new hero into the mix. Having Winn Schott as their leader rang a bit of a stretch but he pulled it off okay.

Then another blast from the past as they dug up Red Tornado from Supergirl’s season one. Pretty much just a missile with a face, this was more fan service than anything that added to the plot, but still damn did they throw everything, including the kitchen sink at this one.

My one gripe would be the alternate Felicity being used to expose Oliver. This just felt like one alternate version too many and far too convenient she just happened to be at that specific camp. Small complaint.

The Nazi Waverider raised all sorts of questions for me but nearly three hours into this epic I’m willing to give them some leeway for the sake of fun. But then they threw me a curveball. One I should have seen coming but absolutely did not … Shooting Stein.

This part was our link from Parts Three (The Flash) to Four (Legends of Tomorrow) and wow … just wow.

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Victor Garber had announced he was leaving Legends and the setup for his departure had been developing for weeks, but his shooting and death … they totally blindsided me. They basically did the “cop two weeks from retirement story”, the most cliché thing ever, but still completely surprised me. The shooting, his sacrifice to save Jefferson, the funeral and everything connected was just perfect. The most touching and powerful send off for the character and the actor. Just beautifully played.

Jefferson delivering the news to Stein’s family was especially touching and his death served as a final push for the team to succeed. They are now doing it to avenge their friend’s death … I wonder what they’d call their team?

The rest was exactly what you’d think, action, lots of action. Just wall-to-wall action scenes and great character beats. We kill off Evil Kara and Oliver while of course Thawne gets away to plague Barry some other time. Not a real surprise in this ending but so satisfying. Wrapping things up with a double wedding did seem a bit cheesy but, come on, they earned it!

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“Crisis on Earth-X” is by far the best of the crossovers they’ve done. It felt big and epic like a real film, while still emphasizing character and plot. In fact, I have to say we got a better Justice League here than in the theatrical film! Maybe CW can teach big papa Warner Bros how to build a world and properly tie properties together. This is the kind of crossover that begs for repeat viewings, and while it had some rough spots, some cheesy writing, even a touch of bad CG here and there, it was some of the most fun I’ve had watching any one of these shows before and it sets a real high bar for next year!

Supergirl airs Monday at 8:00 PM on The CW.

What did you think of the crossover? Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

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