Crisis on Infinite Earths

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Available With:
Supergirl: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Batwoman: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Arrow: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;

Warner;
Sci-fi/Action;
Not rated;
Stars Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Caity Lotz, Ruby Rose, Brandon Routh, Cress Williams, David Harewood, Tom Cavanagh, Tyler Hoechlin, John Cryer, Matt Ryan, David Ramsey, LaMonica Garrett.

Multiverses are all the rage nowadays.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the live-action DC movies are scrambling to introduce the concept in their upcoming blockbusters, filling the Internet with casting rumors of the return of previous versions of certain characters. And one reason they may be motivated to do so is how popular the idea proved in the CW Arrowverse’s big crossover event last season, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which brought together characters from six of the DC superhero shows and featured cameos from several more, and even referenced a few from the big screen.

The TV Crisis is based on a major DC Comics storyline from the mid-1980s, which redefined and modernized all the publication’s classic characters while seeking to streamline convoluted histories that went back decades. In doing so, characters encountered versions of themselves from parallel realities in an epic battle against a villain called the Anti-Monitor who was destroying entire universes.

The CW networks’ “Arrowverse” shows adopted the same basic premise. The series have been doing annual crossovers for a while, and have been laying the groundwork for Crisis on Infinite Earths for years.

Follow us on Instagram!

The crossover itself is structured like a miniseries, though each of the five parts are actually an episode from one of the participating series: part one is an episode of “Supergirl,” part two is an episode of “Batwoman,” part three is an episode of “The Flash,” part four is an episode of “Arrow,” and part five is an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow.” Though they use a unified Crisis title card instead of the individual show, the main credits still reflect the cast of that show. This is likely more a matter of contractual obligations, since it probably would have made more sense to produce the crossover as a separate production outside the purview of any of the shows. The fact that these are technically separate episodes of different series makes for some awkward distribution scenarios.

For home video, Warner has chosen to include a special bonus disc containing all five episodes and bonus materials with the relevant season Blu-ray releases of each of the series. It’s the same disc for every show, so “Arrowverse” fans who pick up the Blu-ray for each show will get it five times.

Since the individual parts are also episodes of the shows, they are also included with the regular episode runs for each show on disc. Since the miniseries version is exclusive to the Blu-ray, anyone wanting each part just on DVD has to buy each show’s separate season, and those don’t come with the special “Crisis” extras.

In years past, the crossovers on disc were handled a bit differently, with Warner including all crossover episodes on the Blu-ray for each show’s relevant season as part of the regular episode listings, so that they’ll come up in a “play all” binge.

Either way, it kind of points to a more common sense solution being to release the Crisis disc as a standalone miniseries, and not part of any of the shows’ seasons, but contracts are what they are.

The fact that these are individual episodes of each show makes for some messy plot developments in terms of where certain events happen in relation to what show they are technically happening on. Major life events affecting Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) happen on “Supergirl,” and not his own show, “Arrow.” However, “Arrow” does get a monumental cameo involving The Flash, rather than that bit of fan service actually happening on “The Flash.”

With the central conceit that every TV show and movie ever based on a DC Comics property exists alongside the others in a multiverse, producers have packed in cameos from a number of these other shows, in many cases offering a reunion or update for some of the characters. These range from quick glances at other current shows such as “Titans” and “Stargirl,” as well as drop-ins on the worlds of Superman Returns, the 1989 Batman movie, the 1960s “Batman” series, “Smallville,” the 1990 “Flash” TV show and even the recent Justice League movie.

It’s all in good fun for the fans of these characters who have been following them not just on the CW, but on the other shows as well, not to mention the original comics. The idea of using “Batman: The Animated Series” star Kevin Conroy to play a live-action version of an older Bruce Wayne is just a marvelous idea. As is putting Brandon Routh back in the Superman suit to play an older version of the character. Routh already plays the Atom in the Arrowverse, but physically he seems much more suited to play Superman now that he’s a bit older than he did in 2006, which he was a bit to thin for the part.

For comic book fans, the looks of Conroy’s Bruce Wayne and Routh’s older Superman borrow a lot of influence from the 1990s Kingdom Come miniseries.

Tom Welling also makes an appearance as the “Smallville” Clark Kent, and between him and Routh they just make the Arrowverse’s Superman, Tyler Hoechlin, seem way too undersized for the role.

In addition, Cress Williams shows up in a couple episodes to play Black Lightning from his own CW show. While “Black Lightning” doesn’t have one of the Crisis episodes, it did do its own prelude to Crisis episode similarly to the other participating shows. That episode isn’t included here, but it is available with the third season of “Black Lightning” which is available digitally now and coming to DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Archive Oct. 27.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Nostalgia aside, Crisis does a lot to resolve several of the storylines from the various shows, not the least of which is to finally put Supergirl and Black Lightnine in the same universe as the other heroes (though that has raised its own plot problems as the shows have continued post-Crisis). It’s an ambitious piece of television that should satisfy fans of the series involved, but the various crossovers and nostalgia bait do a lot to distract from flaws that become apparent on subsequent rewatches.

Primarily, the quaintness of plotting that persists on the five main shows carries over here, and the dialogue can get a bit grating the more one hears it. In some instances the collective writing teams may have been in over their heads coordinating such a big production, as there are many attempts to cram in the supporting casts of the various shows in their series’ respective episodes with subplots that end up going nowhere or having no effect on the larger storyline. Some of these are excuses for cheap cameos, while others just seem like they are giving the characters busy work.

When these shows are syndicated to various stations and streaming services in the future and have to stand on their own, I can only imagine the confusion some viewers might having when encountering the crossover episodes in the middle of a binge and seeing partial storylines that have little to do with the rest of the show they’ve been watching. But, a happy fan is an informed fan, and they should know what they’re getting into with the Arrowverse to begin with.

The extras on the Crisis bonus disc are fun backgrounders typical of the kinds usually found on Blu-rays of DC-based content, particularly the DC Universe animated movies.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Architects Return” is a 12-minute featurette that reflects on the original comic book, featuring interviews with its original creators, plus a look at the new comic book tie-in created for the Arrowverse version.

“Crisis Management” is a 13-minute making-of featurette looking at how the five shows coordinated to bring the crossover together.

“Crisis Past and Present: Kevin Conroy Bat Legend” is a three-minute profile of Conroy and bringing him to play a live-action Batman for the first time.

“Crisis Past and Present: Superman vs. Superman” is a four-and-a-half-minute featurette about a showdown between Routh and Hoechlin for super-supremecy.

“Characters in Crisis: Pariah” is a four-minute video about turning Tom Cavanagh’s “Flash” character into the Pariah role from the original comic.

Finally, “Characters in Crisis: The Anti-Monitor” is a five-minute examination of the main villain of the story.

‘Superman: Man of Tomorrow’; ‘Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection’ Now Available for Home Viewing

Superman: Man of Tomorrow, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, tops the slate of new disc releases available Sept. 8.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow is the latest direct-to-video “Superman” movie from Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment — the 40th release in the franchise, to be precise. The film, which was released through digital retailers on Aug. 23, is now available on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. It details the early life of the Man of Steel’s shy alter ego, Clark Kent.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Also out Sept. 8 are a flurry of disc reissues, most notably the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment of “The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection,” an eight-disc set featuring the films Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds. Psycho for the first time includes the original theatrical cut of the film released in 1960; subsequent home video releases have all featured a version from a 1968 re-release that was slightly trimmed to get an ‘R’ rating from the MPAA. Universal is releasing this version of Psycho as a standalone 60th anniversary edition Blu-ray.

On the TV and web series front, highlights include season five of “Supergirl,” available on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital, from Warner Bros.; season four of “Bull” on DVD and digital from Paramount/CBS; and season seven of “Chicago P.D.,” also on DVD and digital, from Universal.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

‘Supergirl’ Season 5 on Disc Sept. 8

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Supergirl: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 8. The season’s 19 episodes are available now for digital purchase.

In the CW’s show’s fifth season, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) confronts a shadowy organization called Leviathan, while National City becomes enthralled by an addictive new virtual reality program. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) returns as a global hero thanks to the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover with the CW’s other superhero shows.

The cast also includes Chyler Leigh, Katie McGrath, Jesse Rath, Nicole Maines, Azie Tesfai, Andrea Brooks, Julie Gonzalo, Staz Nair, Mehcad Brooks and David Harewood.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Home video extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel and highlights from the DC TV 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panels.

The Blu-ray will also include a limited-edition bonus disc that includes all five “Crisis” crossover episodes, plus six “Crisis” featurettes.

‘Supergirl’ Season Four on Disc Sept. 17

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 17 (order date Aug. 13).

The season deals with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) confronting an anti-alien movement led by Agent Liberty (Sam Witwer), as well as a conspiracy involving a duplicate of Supergirl trained by a hostile foreign government.

The cast also includes Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Katie McGrath, Jesse Rath, Nicole Maines, April Parker, David Harewood and Jon Cryer.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray and DVD includes all 22 episodes, plus highlights from the show’s panel at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a “Villains: Modes of Persuasion” featurette, and a featurette about the season’s “Elseworlds” crossover event with other DC TV series.

The Blu-ray will also include the “Elseworlds” episodes from “The Flash” and “Arrow.”

The fourth season is currently available to own digitally, and a digital copy is included with the Blu-ray.

‘Arrow’ Season Seven on Disc Aug. 20

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 20 (order date July 16).

The season deals with the aftermath of Oliver Queen’s surrendering to the FBI and publicly admitting to being the vigilante Green Arrow.

The Blu-ray and DVD includes all 22 episodes, plus highlights from the show’s panel at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a “Villains: Modes of Persuasion” featurette, and a featurette about the season’s “Elseworlds” crossover event with other DC TV series.

The Blu-ray will also include the “Elseworlds” episodes from “The Flash” and “Supergirl.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The cast includes Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy, Colton Haynes, Kirk Acevedo and Sea Shimooka.

The seventh season is currently available to own digitally, and a digital copy is included with the Blu-ray.

Stars of 1984’s ‘Supergirl’ Reflect on Film Ahead of Warner Archive Blu-ray Release

Cast members of 1984’s Supergirl were on hand at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International July 19 to promote the July 24 Blu-ray release of the film from Warner Archive.

The two-disc set includes the film’s 125-minute international cut remastered for Blu-ray, with commentary from director Jeannot Szwarc, a vintage behind-the-scenes featurette, plus a copy of the rare 139-minute director’s cut on DVD.

Helen Slater, who was an unknown actress when she was cast as the title character, said it was a bit intimidating to appear in a cast that included Peter O’Toole, Mia Farrow and Faye Dunaway as the main villain.

“It’s definitely intimidating, especially since those actors were crazy talented and Academy Award=winning;  and Lawrence of Arabia for goodness’ sake,” Slater said. “I think part of the advantage of being 18 and turning 19 is that you don’t really know to be totally freaked out because you’re just so young. Like now if it happened I’d be more nervous.”

Slater later returned to the DC Comics realm by playing Superman’s mother on “Smallville,” and Supergirl’s adopted mother on the current “Supergirl” TV series starring Melissa Benoist.

Marc McClure played Jimmy Olsen in the film, reprising his role from the “Superman” films that starred Christopher Reeve, who was meant to have a cameo in the film.

“I think the producers just wanted to tie it in,” McClure said. “I think the plan was that Chris was supposed to be in the film, and then he was doing something else, and it was good for Jimmy to get the nod. And I had a great time.”

Instead, Reeve appears on a poster seen by Supergirl as his theme music plays.

Slater said they tried many versions of the costume, and that she had the same trainer as Reeve to prepare her for the physicality of the role.

“When I got the part I was probably 20 pounds underweight from where they needed me to be,” she said.

But the effects of the training paid off when she put on the costume.

“I was bulked up so there was a feeling of being powerful,” she said.

Slater said that she was a brunette when she was cast and dyed her hair blond for the role.

“One of the losses when they dyed my hair blond was that I couldn’t swim,” Slater said. “I went swimming three times a week for my training, and [they said] you can’t go back into the water now that your hair’s blond. They were just too worried it was going to go green.”

On top of that, they gave her a brunette wig to play Supergirl’s alter ego, Linda Lee.

“They should have done it the other way,” Slater joked.

McClure, who later appeared in the “Back to the Future” films and Apollo 13, said he’s been fortunate in his career to work with great directors and act in iconic films.

“To be able to be involved in one film that has legs, you’re a lucky actor, let alone some of the films I’ve been involved in,” McClure said.

Slater said she hasn’t had a chance to watch the new Blu-ray yet, but said it has been a while since she’s seen even part of the film.

“All the years my daughter was in our house [she and my husband] would make these birthday movies, and for my 40th birthday she was obsessed with Harry Potter and he had her, since he’s a wiz with filmmaking, use a greenscreen and had her on a broomstick flying through different movies,” Slater said. “And at the end he has her fly into Supergirl, where I’m flying, she’s on her broomstick, and she says ‘Hey Mom … See you in 20 years! Don’t forget to name me Hannah!”