2009 Movie News Archives
December 12, 2009: Directors Discuss "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths"DIRECTORS LAUREN MONTGOMERY & SAM LIU DISCUSS JOYS & CHALLENGES OF JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
When you're dealing with a story so huge that it spans multiple Earths, it's sometimes a good idea to arm yourself with multiple directors - as did the production team behind Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.
Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu, the animation directors of the past three DC Universe films, have combined their talents to bring Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths to the screen as a blockbuster tale of super heroes and super villains engaged in the ultimate battle of parallel worlds and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril.
Montgomery has been an active member of the directing team behind several of the DCU films, initially guiding the middle section of Superman Doomsday before accepting the sole directorial role for both Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight. After directing several Hulk and Thor ventures for rival Marvel, Liu made his long-form directorial debut for the DCU series on Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
As the film's lead characters are armed with similar talents while coming from distinctly different perspectives, the same can be said of the two directors of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Both Montgomery and Liu are relatively soft-spoken individuals, yet both are opinionated in their approach to animation, diligent in their work ethic, and dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome. Over the course of making the film, they came to learn a great deal about the other's vision, and the result is even greater than the sum of their talents.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer. The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video on February 23, 2010 as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and , Blu-RayTM Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.
Montgomery and Liu paused from their current DCU projects (shhh ... it's a secret) to discuss their thoughts on the creation of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. FYI: The interviews were conducted separately. Montgomery's answers are listed first because, well, decorum dictates that ladies go first ...
QUESTION: How did you two go about co-directing Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: We kind of just went over the whole film together and it was really good to get two different points of view as a check and balance for each other. If we disagreed, we found compromises that would work. If one of us felt strongly about something, we just traded off - Sam would take a sequence he felt strongly about, then I'd take one I wanted. But for the most part, we agreed. We both work in such different ways, it was interesting to see how someone else works and learn from it.
SAM LIU: We went through the film front to back, and if we ran into a problem or an area where either of us had an issue, usually where we thought it could be stronger or could be playing better, we usually solved it right on the spot. If we got to a section that was requiring a lot more revisions, one of us would jump on it and the other would move the rest of the film forward until we hit another rough spot. So that was our process.
QUESTION: What have you learned from each other?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Sam breaks things down a lot, he's very analytical. I tend not to. He spends a lot of time thinking about the story and getting into all the nooks and crannies of it, and I like to work with the general story. He'll read the whole book, I'll read the back of the book. I try to get the emotional points down so people can understand them, but Sam will go even deeper to use shots and set-ups to drive the point home, sometimes metaphorically. He thinks harder than I do.
SAM LIU: Our processes are very different. I like getting into a script and breaking things down. Maybe I don't have the best ideas, but I'm pretty good at recognizing where things are needed. I really liked the back and forth process (with Lauren), talking about ideas and batting it back and forth to find a good solution. Lauren is more instinctual, she works more from the gut. And I think she works off reaction rather than an intellectual breakdown. I'm the other way by process. But I do feel like sometimes I over-analyze things, when sometimes it's almost like the emotional flow of the movie is good enough. Lauren gets that. Sometimes logic can be bypassed if the scene is engaging enough, or interesting enough. It'll bridge gaps and you don't need to analytically fix all those gaps.
QUESTION: What do you think you might have taught each other?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: I think Sam stresses out slightly less when I'm around. He stresses and I don't. I think I calm him down a little bit. But when he's alone, he stresses out just as much. Hopefully I helped with that.
SAM LIU: I don't think I taught her anything (he laughs). She's a free-flowing, shoot-from-the-hip kind of person, and I'm kind of an angster - I nitpick things. I like getting into the story, and from there some things do need working out - things related to the emotional journey of a character that need to be highlighted or punctuated to set something up for later. I'm a stickler for things like that. And I think she saw those things.
I do stress, though - and there are times when I'm freaking out about something and she puts me at total ease. And then there's times when I'm freaking out and she's fighting me on it, and it makes it worse. I think we're both control freaks in our own way, it's just a difference in approach. I fixate on a lot of things, and she thinks things are just good enough, so let's move on. We have an innate concept about the overall picture, but she focuses more on the acting and poses and timing and movement, and I think more on structure. I guess there's a good balance.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite scene in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: There's a fight between Wonder Woman and Olympia that I thought was really beautifully animated. That's always fun to watch. It was boarded well, but the overseas animators took the drawings from the boards and really plussed it out. I think they just enjoy animating girl fights overseas because those scenes always come back looking good.
SAM LIU: More than one scene, I like the overall relatability of the Justice League characters. There was great character interaction. When I watch movies, I like something that has an emotional connection, and this film definitely does.
Specifically, I think the spectacle of these evenly matched supers fighting was really cool. Superman versus Ultraman. Flash fighting someone equally as fast. Strengths against strengths. Jay Oliva boarded the last fight sequence and the Superwoman-Wonder Woman fight is great. They're both strong, super powerful women and I think it was brutal enough as is, but the way Jay made Wonder Woman use the lasso to slam Superwoman to the ground is pretty amazing.
The battle between Owlman and Batman is awesome, too, because it's sort of this weird intellectual standoff. Owlman is so far into his psychosis as to how the universe operates, it's very existential. His concept is crazy, but the way he reasons out the technology of how things work and the way he thinks, it gave us great room to improvise Batman's reaction. And then when they actually fight, it's brutal. They do these gadget fights, sort of a modern ninja battle. The sound effects on the planet, the colors, the way it's animated, it all works really well. And James Woods' voice is perfect - most of the Crime Syndicate is very thuggish, they're all about stealing money. But Owlman has created the ultimate plan to annihilate everybody, and James Woods does this great build-up. It's great acting. He plays Owlman as a little bit off and kind of creepy, but not sinister creepy. His cadence is great, and his voice is almost charming in a way. It was a good mix of all the things I thought we'd have a problem with if we went too far one way or the other. It's a great, tight sequence and I'm very happy the way it all came together.
QUESTION: What were the challenges of directing this film?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: It was a challenge because we had a really large cast of characters - lots of main characters - and they all needed a decent amount of screen time. Both the good guys and the bad. We had to make sure the audience got to know each of those characters and make sure they had a presence in the film that was important, and that was a challenge.
SAM LIU: Definitely the size of the cast and how to give enough screen time to everyone. At one point, Green Lantern was a little light on having enough important things to do. We needed to add a bit for Lex Luthor, too, and I still don't think we did enough. We added a fight to show that Lex can fight, too, and tried to beef him up a bit. But there just wasn't enough screen time to accommodate everyone.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite character?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Superwoman ... just because she's so wrong. She's a bully, but she's got the muscle to back it up. She's everything you shouldn't be, but is fun to work with.
QUESTION: What skills you learned or developed on past projects were you able to apply to this film?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: We had the same animation studio that did Wonder Woman, so we were able to draw from the work done on Wonder Woman and improve on that. Overall, the animation was good in Wonder Woman, but there was some poor stuff, too. I think they really improved - they saw what we responded to in Wonder Woman and they tried to do what they knew we liked, and it was good.
SAM LIU: I think, this whole process was better for me this time, especially working with Bruce (Timm) and Lauren. I was able to let go a little bit and not have to over-think things, and still know that things would work out. I generally stress over everything until the very last minute. With Lauren, I sort of learned that you can say "that's enough" and move on to the next thing. I appreciate Lauren and her patience, and that we're still friends. In the end, you take care of the important things and everything will work out.
QUESTION: So, are you happy being an animation director?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: It's never been an easy job. It can be draining. But it's still a really fun job. I mean, we get to work on great stories with iconic characters. I know people who would kill to work on Batman and Superman. When you think of it that way - well, if I weren't working in this job, I'd definitely want to. A little bit of the excitement is taken off because I've done it so many times, but it's still a really cool thing to do.
SAM LIU: I love doing long-form animation. I've been offered to go back to TV series, but I like this better. Direct-to-videos are hard - you have a short amount of time to create a world from the ground up every time and, once it's done, it goes on the shelf and you move on - but I'm so glad I don't have to deal with BSP (Broadcast, Standards & Practices - the network's content watchdogs). What I love most is that you get to tell stories people can love, you can have emotional pain and great action, and you get to work with things that are too adult for children's broadcasting. That's the stuff that I like - telling full stories. So I'm very happy.
QUESTION: What's your favorite part of the job?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: The best part is when you see the film start to come back (from overseas animation studios) and it's looking good. That's a really nice part. When you see it coming together to be something good, that's very satisfying. You know all your hard work has paid off.
SAM LIU: I think it has to be working with the story and the characters. I love the development of the characters and how they fit into the story, helping their growth, even if it's subtle or small. I like finding the core of what our story is about and trying to push that story. I think most of the time it's about the characters and their conflicts in the beginning, and how they resolve those conflicts. On this film, we were able to do that a lot even after production had been underway - particularly with Batman's motivation, and showing why it was important for him to stay behind and get Watchtower online. Superman believes one thing; Batman has a different opinion. It's a conflict, and it pays off later.
QUESTION: You've been living with this film for well over a year. Can you still watch and enjoy it?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: I enjoy it most with a new audience. You get to see their reactions, and it makes me look at it in a new light. I enjoy watching all of our movies, which is a good thing - it's nice to be able to watch what you've done and feel good about it.
SAM LIU: It's hard sometimes, because when you're making a movie, there's so many things you want and wish for, and you still tend to see the things that are missing. In this case, I'm comfortable watching because there are so many things that were done right. I'm not comfortable watching some of my older stuff. But this is one of the best movies I've ever worked on, and it's very satisfying. I think there's the right amount of action, good conflict, good closure, and intelligent characters. They're not just one-dimensional characters. So it's satisfying to watch.
QUESTION: What's the DC Universe film you hope to direct some day?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: I want that Aquaman project, but I doubt we'll every make it.
SAM LIU: I'd love to do Sandman from the Vertigo line. I don't know what kind of story that would be, but I'd love to work with Neil Gaiman because I really loved those comics.
QUESTION: Now that you can see the final product, how do the voices match their animated characters?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Gina Torres and James Woods are probably my favorites. Everybody loves Owlman. He's such a unique character. Gina is really good as Superwoman - she has this strong, seductive, confident voice, and it makes you fear and respect her. Mark Harmon is really good as Superman. At first I was worried because I thought his age might come through, but his voice really works well. It's funny because when we started watching the voice with the animation, it struck us how you could hear little tones of George Newbern and Tim Daly - two of our regular Supermans - in his voice, which is pretty cool.
SAM LIU: I really liked Mark Harmon - he's got a gentle streak and it goes really well with the strength of his voice. When he was in the recording booth, I thought he might be too gentle, but it works even in the scenes where he has to be more assertive or powerful. I think it works really well because it never crosses that line of him being mean or not genuine or sneaky. It's very pure, just as Superman should be.
I also thought Josh Keaton did a great job as Flash. He's hilarious. So much of these movies are based on the acting, and Josh really sold it. The chemistry between characters was good, too. James Woods and Gina Torres have this strange relationship, and their acting makes them real characters. They really engaged their personalities. That's what good actors do. The voices in this cast really flesh out the characters and give them texture.
For more information, images and updates, please visit the film's official website at www.JUSTICELEAGUECRISIS.com.
2009 Movie NewsListed below are all the Movie News items archived for 2009 organized into various categories:
New Movie News:
- January 6, 2009: WB Seeking Superman Villain For Next Superman Movie
- January 8, 2009: Warner Bros. Has All DC Films On Hold
- February 5, 2009: Superman Franchise Still High on Time Warner Agenda
- February 9, 2009: McG's Thoughts on Rebooting Superman
- February 11, 2009: Wachowski Brothers Approached for Superman Trilogy
- February 17, 2009: No Superman For Wachowski Brothers?
- February 19, 2009: Wachowski Movie Rumor Debunked Again
- February 20, 2009: Legendary Pictures Lists Superman Unleashed
- February 23, 2009: Superman Unleashed Under Development
- March 5, 2009: Brandon Routh Talks Next Superman Movie
- March 19, 2009: Mark Millar Moves on from Superman Movie
- May 30, 2009: Smith Says Abrams Should Make Superman Reboot
- June 1, 2009: Bryan Singer's Vague Answer on Superman
- July 20, 2009: Is Warner Bros. Preparing a Bizarro Superman Movie?
- July 20, 2009: Who Was Mark Millar's Superman Director?
- July 24, 2009: Spacey, Huntington and Routh Talk Superman Movie
- July 26, 2009: Variety Article on DCU Movies
- July 30, 2009: Dave Gibbons' Thoughts on Next Superman Movie
- July 30, 2009: Brandon Routh Video Interview
- July 31, 2009: Superman Movie Director/Producer Rumor
- August 7, 2009: James McTeigue Vague on Superman Movie Involvement
- August 21, 2009: James McTeigue's Thoughts on Superman Movie
- August 25, 2009: McTeigue Wants a Darker Superman
- September 15, 2009: Mark Millar Talks Superman... Again
- September 16, 2009: No Superman Movie Plans at DC Entertainment
- September 17, 2009: On-Going Litigation Blamed for No Superman Movie Plans
- September 21, 2009: Mark Millar Denies MTV Comments
- September 27, 2009: Fans Want a Superman Movie Before Any Other
- October 2, 2009: James McTeigue Elaborates on his Superman Movie Ideas
- October 27, 2009: JJ Abrams Says Returning to Superman Would Be A Blast
- November 26, 2009: Superman Movie Franchise Still On Hold
- November 26, 2009: Kevin Spacey Still Interested in Superman Movie
- May 5, 2009: Tarantino a Big Fan of Superman Returns
- May 22, 2009: Executive Producer Talks Superman Returns
- June 3, 2009: Superman Movies Showing in Crystal City, VA
- July 3, 2009: Brandon Routh's Contract Expires
- August 28, 2009: Lois Lane's Sydney House For Sale
- September 9, 2009: Spice Girl Missed Out on Lois Lane Role
- November 14, 2009: Fans Petition for Extended Superman Returns Release
- March 12, 2009: Miller Still on Justice League Movie
- December 24, 2009: Dan Lin Talks Justice League Movie
- January 8, 2009: Harrison Ford Was Considered for Superman
- January 21, 2009: Richard Donner to Receive ACE Award
- February 20, 2009: Superman Celebrities at WonderCon
- March 2, 2009: WonderCon Interview with Jack O'Halloran
- April 10, 2009: Marc McClure on Shokus Internet Radio
- May 12, 2009: Superman III Costume on Auction
- May 26, 2009: Superman III Costume Sells at Auction
- June 3, 2009: Superman Movies Showing in Crystal City, VA
- July 3, 2009: Superman Celebrities at Comic Conventions
- July 24, 2009: Cinemaquette Unveil Christopher Reeve Superman Statue
- July 25, 2009: Exclusive Photos of Mattel Chris Reeve Superman and General Zod
- August 3, 2009: Superman: The Movie Screening Re-Scheduled
- August 7, 2009: Wizard World Exclusive Margot Kidder Signed Print
- August 8, 2009: Margot Kidder at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
- August 24, 2009: Superman Celebrity Reunion at Hollywood Show
- September 17, 2009: Gene Hackman Audio Interview
- September 17, 2009: Help Honor Christopher Reeve
- October 13, 2009: Superman Screening at Pinewood Studios
- November 26, 2009: Robert Vaughan Appearing at Gotham Super Collectors Show
- March 14, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Animated Movie
- March 18, 2009: Jeph Loeb Talks Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- June 29, 2009: The Making of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- June 30, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Press Release
- July 1, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Official Website & Cover Artwork
- July 24, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Preview at SDCC DCU Animation Panel
- July 30, 2009: Public Enemies Preview on Green Lantern: First Flight DVD
- August 11, 2009: Back Cover Artwork for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- August 19, 2009: John C. McGinley Talks Metallo on Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- August 21, 2009: LeVar Burton Talks Black Lightning in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- August 28, 2009: Stan Berkowitz Talks Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- August 29, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Website Updated
- September 2, 2009: Clancy Brown is Lex Luthor in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- September 5, 2009: More Image from Superman/Batman Public Enemies
- September 11, 2009: New Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Video Clip
- September 14, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Sweeps
- September 15, 2009: New Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Video Clips
- September 16, 2009: Plot & Cast for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
- September 16, 2009: Another Video Clip from Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- September 16, 2009: Official Press Release for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Sweeps
- September 18, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Downloads Available
- September 24, 2009: Kevin Conroy Talks Batman in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- September 26, 2009: New Public Enemies Video Clip and Images
- September 29, 2009: Another Public Enemies Video Clip and More Images
- September 30, 2009: Tim Daly Talks Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
- October 1, 2009: Justice League: Crisis of Two Earths Animated Movie
- October 18, 2009: Public Enemies Animated Movie Sequel?
- October 29, 2009: The Making of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
- November 13, 2009: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Trailer
- November 24, 2009: Press Release - Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
- November 24, 2009: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Opening Title Examined
- November 25, 2009: Crisis on Two Earths DVD and Blu-ray Artwork
- December 3, 2009: Chris Noth Talks Crisis on Two Earths
- December 4, 2009: Crisis on Two Earths DVD & Blu-ray Covers
- December 11, 2009: Pre-Order Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
- December 12, 2009: Directors Discuss Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
- December 17, 2009: William Baldwin Talks Batman in Crisis on Two Earths
- December 26, 2009: More Crisis on Two Earths Images
- January 15, 2009: McG Would Have Used Doomsday for Superman Villain
- January 21, 2009: Unproduced Movie Scripts Unveiled in Siegel Court Case
- March 3, 2009: Unused Superman Film Concept Art
- March 17, 2009: Max Fleischer's Superman: 1941-1942 DVD Collection
- April 22, 2009: The History Behind Fleischer's Superman
- April 22, 2009: J.J. Abrams on How the Internet Killed Superman
- May 7, 2009: Henry Cavill on Nearly Being Superman
- May 19, 2009: An Historical Look at the Fleischer Superman Cartoons
- June 15, 2009: From The Vault - Interview with Nicolas Cage
- June 18, 2009: The Evolution of Superman's Flight
- June 21, 2009: A Couple of YouTube Videos for the Weekend
- July 8, 2009: Tim Burton's Superman Lives Brainiac Designs
- July 9, 2009: Superman Cameo in Green Lantern Film Still Happening?
- July 15, 2009: Gotham Group to Make Joe Shuster Film Biopic
- July 21, 2009: Last Son Documentary to Screen at Comic-Con
- July 27, 2009: Helen Slater Supergirl Interview
- September 5, 2009: Superwoman Exploited and DC History Examined
- September 10, 2009: Warner Bros. Creates DC Entertainment
- September 10, 2009: Paul Levitz and Diane Nelson Fan Letters
- September 22, 2009: Nicolas Cage as Superman Revealed!
- September 26, 2009: More Tim Burton Superman Lives Concept Art
- November 8, 2009: Superman Lives Chest Symbol Sneak Peek
- December 8, 2009: Helen Slater Talks Supergirl
- December 18, 2009: Is Taylor Swift the Next Supergirl?
- December 24, 2009: Supergirl Movie Rumor Swiftly Shot Down
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