Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017)

The Steelbook cover the the Australian Bluray release of Batman and Harley Quinn

Film: Yep, we are back with another one of those DC animated movies, which for me, are far better than any cinematic universe from any comic company. Why? Well basically these animated film live in a world where the origin of a super hero doesn’t necessarily need to be a focus of a film, and nor does there need to be a circle around to reveal the main bad guy was intrinsic to the formation of the good guy.

These films assume you know who Hawkman and other ‘minor’ characters are, and even better, with a rough schedule of three a year (thirdly? Is that the the three-times-a-year version of quarterly?) they can mix up the storylines and have a variety of characters and storylines that don’t require you to have seen 20 hours of previous entries to know what is going on: each film can exist completely by itself without having seen a previous entry.

This entry is almost a sequel to Batman: The Animated Series (TAS), and features not just favourites Batman and Nightwing, but also DC Darling Harley Quinn, along with other fan favourites Poison Ivy, Plantman and Swamp Thing.

Nightwing and Batman

In this film, Batman and Nightwing are investigating Poison Ivy and Plantman, who have teamed up with the idea of transforming all the ugly ‘meat’ on the planet (ie you and me) into plantlife by using the research by Alec Holland, who became the half man/ half plant/ all elemental Swamp Thing after an experiment was sabotaged, but Batman needs an ‘in’ to find where Poison Ivy is… and that in is named Harley Quinn, who might know Ivy’s whereabouts due to their friendship.

Nightwing tracks Harley down to a girlie bar where she works dressed up as her evil self, but she’s trying very hard to resist her bad urges and go on the straight and narrow, and become legit. Nightwing follows her home, and after being seduced by her, convinces her to help them, which she does with glee!

Meanwhile, Plantman and Ivy’s experiments aren’t working to what they require, and they decide they need to relocate to the swamp where Swamp Thing was created. With the Trinamic Trio (?) make it in time to stop their nefarious scheme?

From the start you know what you are in for: the Henri Mancini styled goofy, 60s score and the Pink Panther looking antics of cartoonish versions of the lead characters mean that you definitely are not looking at the Batman from previous films like Batman: Bad Blood or Batman: Assault on Arkham Asylum.

The main cast of Batman the Animated Series is back with Kevin Conroy playing ol’ Bats and Loren Lester reprising is role as an older Dick Grayson, who is now Nightwing rather than Robin. Unfortunately, there is no Tara Strong as Harley or Diane Pershing as Poison Ivy in this, but their replacements are surprising: Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch and Criminal Minds’ Paget Brewster.

Melissa Rauch is no Tara Strong, but plays Harley with a great deal of fun, the real winner is a Brewster as Ivy. Do I have a soft spot for Brewster? Yes, so I was pretty excited to see her in this role! She plays Ivy extraordinarily dry and austere towards everything except for Harley.

Harley’s not impressed with being found by Nightwing.

This film was directed by regular DC animated director Sam Liu and even in adapting the Batman TAS style he still manages to make it his own, which is great considering Batman TAS creator Bruce Tim returns here as the story and script-writer… and he also plays the voice of Justice Leaguer Booster Gold in a particularly funny scene which reveals Nightwing’s opinion of some of the third tier Justice League members.

It’s certainly not the greatest DC animated film, but it certainly sees Harley at her sexiest (in all aspects of the term) and funnest (is that a word?). There are some real great tributes to the Batman 66, the henchman karaoke bar is fantastic, and it’s certainly nice to hear the 90s Batman and Robin back together again.

Score: ***

The Australian Bluray menu screen

Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian region B Bluray which runs for 74 minutes and is presented in an impeccable 1.78:1 image with a spectacular English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Justice League Dark before hitting the main menu where there are some pretty cool extras.

A Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie gives us a sneak peak at Gotham by Gaslight: a DC Animated film I simply cannot wait for. I always loved these ‘Elseworlds’ tales from DC as they are story driven rather than character driven soap operas and don’t require any knowledge of previous tales for a sense of completion.

The Harley Effect looks at the history of the character of Harley Quinn and her inevitable popularity: every one loves a funny, sexy girl with brains… who is maybe just a little bit nuts.

Loren Lester: In His Own Voice is an interesting interview with the actor who has played the animated Dick Grayson/ Robin/ Nightwing, about his career.

There are a few sneak peaks at previous DC animated films: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and 2 and Batman: Assault on Arkham.

There are also two classic Harley Quinn cartoons from Batman: The Animated Series: Harley and Ivy and Harley’s Holiday.

In addition to the trailers that open the disc, there is also trailers for Justice League and Wonder Woman, the live action movies.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a DC animated film with Harley Quinn in it: no matter how bad, I’ll be watching it again.

Plantman and Poison Ivy look on in awe at a successful experiment.

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Necessary Evil: Super-villains of DC Comics (2013)

One from the re watch pile…
Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013)

The cover of the US DVD


Film: I’ve been collecting comics for well over 40 years, and I still love them to death. I do admit that I did have a period in the 90s where I did not buy any, but that was due to Image comics; not the comics or artists themselves as what they did for artists and writers in the industry was long overdue, but the style of their art.

I’m an old school, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corbin, Robert Crumb guy, so these new flashy artists had no interest to me, and when Marvel and DC started emulating their style, I was out!

Thankfully this didn’t last too long and soon I was back in the fold, enjoying the adventures of masked heroes fighting the good fight against evil, and being a bi-fan: that is, I buy both Marvel and DC comics… but why both? Why in a world where most people buy one or the other, would I get comics from both universes?

The answer is this: I love the realism of most of Marvel’s heroes having a basis in science rather than magic, and without a doubt, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four is still the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine, even though as of the date of this review it hasn’t been published for several years. 

On the flip side of that, I think that DC’s bad guys are greater than Marvel’s. Lex Luther is a great example: in Marvel comics, his equivalent is a good guy, Tony Stark, a weapons manufacturer who became Iron Man. In reality, those sorts of people are seen by the general public as villains, like Luthor. Luther doesn’t hate mankind or want world destruction, he’s xenophobic against Superman.

The man responsible for some of the greatest Batman comics ever written, Scott Snyder


In reality, what would mankind do if an alien came to earth? Luthor’s actions are probably more accurate. Acceptable? No, but when are mankind’s actions acceptable?

Another DC villain that I think is possibly the greatest villain of all time is Jack Kirby’s Darkseid. Darkseid is the dictator of a world called Apokalips, and is at odds with the ENTIRE DC universe. You Marvel fans think Thanos is something to be concerned about? Darkseid would eat Thanos for breakfast!

Anyway, this documentary, Necessary Evil, sits as a great companion piece to the previous documentary Secret Origins: The History of DC Comics, which was released three years earlier. Necessary Evil is hosted by Christopher Lee (the ultimate super villain?) and has interviews with creative types from all walks of life. From psychologists to actors, including but not limited to director Zach Snyder, screenplay writer Geoff Boucher, co-creator of Harley Quinn Paul Dini, DC editor Bobbie Chase, DC editor in chief Bob Harras and many many more.

Producer and author of The Boy Who Loved Batman, Michael Uslan


The film features clips from comics, cartoons, video games, animated films and major motion pictures, and displays many incarnations of the various villains, and is not just a great history of the villains of the DC universe, but is also an interesting psychological look at why we love heroes, but love villains even more.

Recommended, but it’s really only for the most devout of DC comics fans.

Score: *****

The US DVD menu screen


Format: Necessary Evil was reviewed on a region 1 DVD which runs for 99 minutes. The image is presented in a 1.78:1 image and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, both of which are pretty good.

Score: ****

Extras: The disc starts with a trailer for DC’s We Can Be Heroes incentive (which is a pretty cool cause http://www.wecambeheroes.org), Man of Steel, the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, the DC animated feature Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and the DC animated TV series, Green Lantern, Young Justice and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and that’s the entirety of the extras.

Score: **

WISIA: Being a comic nut, I have to admit to watching this many many times.

An animated Green Lantern villain: Star Sapphire

Nerds of Oz: Week Ending 4th February 2017

Week Ending 4th February 2017
A few different things this week…

Blurays


Grabbed two new releases from Cinema Cult this week: John Waters’ hilarious Serial Mom and the snakey 70s flick Sssssss.

Comics


Nice bunch of comics this week. Some from my local comics shop and other off eBay, not many of them read, unfortunately!

Slayer Repentless #1 from Dark Horse Comics. I dig the band Slayer, so I couldn’t resist this.

Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 #1 from DC Comics.

Justice League Vs Suicide Squad #6 from DC Comics.

Kamandi Challenge #1 from DC Comics.

Hulk #2 from Marvel Comics.

Infamous Iron Man #4 from Marvel Comics.

Inhumans Vs X-Men #3 from Marvel Comics.


Marvel’s Greatest Comics starring the Fantastic Four #94 from Marvel Comics. Written by Stan Lee with art by John Buscema, this comic reprints Fantastic Four issue 114 from 1971, and is an example, in both art and story, as to why modern comics will never hold up to Marvel’s heyday, and why classics are called ‘classics’. I’m not trying to be facetious there either: it’s not just about art and story. When Buscema drew a comic, every panel was laid out perfectly and the story always read true. There’s a cool back up story by Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby starring the Ant Man too.

READ! Marvel Two-in-One presents the Thing and the Black Widow #10 from Marvel Comics. From 1975 this Chris Claremont shined and Bob Brown drawn book . The Thing gets caught up in a terrorist plot that the Black Widow wouldn’t have had a chance thwarting by herself at all. It’s, sexist, and it the seventies.

READ! The New Mutants #3, 15, 17, 31, 36, 37, 85, 89, 91, 95, 96 and 97. In an effort to reclaim a full set of The New Mutants (I stupidly sold mine several years ago) I have picked up a bunch of issues. Even though none of them are necessarily favourite characters, I always really liked the comic… well, until the later issues when it turned into a badly drawn prequel to X-Force. The early ones with stories by Chris Claremont and art by the likes of Bob McLeod, Bill Sienkiewicz and Mary Wiltshire are so much better than the later ones written by Louise Simonson and art by Rob Liefled, which are just horrible.

Vinyl


Scored a cheap copy of Stranger Things Volume one on blue/ red vinyl. I’m not a great fan of the show, but I LOVED the soundtrack.

Video Games


Grabbed a copy of Fallout 4 for under 20 bucks, brand new! I’m not really big on RPGs so much, but for under 20 I’ll suffer along with it.

Board/ Card Games



I haven’t bought any new games in ages so I thought i’d give a few new ones a go!

Mars Attacks Tabletop Wargame has super simple rules for a super simple fella! I’ve always thought the Mars Attacks trading cards were awesome and the movie is a bit of a hoot, so I’m prepared to give this a full-tilt go!

I also grabbed a two pack of decks for Magic the Gathering. I loved this game when it first came out and thought I’d give this a go.

Nerds of Oz: Week Ending 27th January 2017

Week Ending 27th January 2017
4 comics and 2 blurays: it’s been a quiet week.

Comics


Comics were at home when I arrived Tuesday night! Stoked.

READ! Harley Quinn #12 from DC Comics. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by John Timms and Chad Hardin. It’s funny but as I had almost finally decided to dump this title, it’s gets interesting. The Joker wants to return to Harley’s life, but Red Tool (quite possibly the lamest creation in Harley’s history) has decided to meet the Joker instead and stick up for her. Harley, of course, is furious with him, but aims the majority of her anger right in the Joker’s lap… and face… and limbs…

READ! Justice League vs Suicide Squad #5 from DC Comics. Written by Joshua Williamson with art by Robson Rocha, the only way to describe this comic is crazy just got crazier. Max Lord! A possessed Justice League! Eclipse! Batman forms his own mini league with Harley Quinn, Lobo, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, Killer Croc and Deadshot… which is clearly now showing that a new JLA title is about to launch starring some of these characters… not sure if I’ll get used to Frost being a good guy though!

READ! Raven #4 from DC Comics. Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Diogenes Neves, this issue we see Raven trying to stop the big white thing from ‘eating’ the locals in her town but will Raven have to resort to using her father, Trigon’s, side of her genetic make up to fight it? If she does, that’s SO Raven!

READ! The Mighty Captain Marvel #1 from Marvel Comics. Written by Margaret Stohl with art by Ramon Rosanas. Wholly disappointed by this. Captain Marvel is funding Alpha Flight by allowing a Tv series called Cap’n Marvel to be made, all the while trying to save a Kree child from shapeshifting kidnappers. It’s as dumb as it sounds.

DVDs and Blurays 


Grabbed two blurays this week, Blair Witch, which is absolutely terrible, and House of 1000 Corpses, which I have on DVD but want to replace with a bluray version.

Harley Quinn’s Greatest Hits Review

HARLEY QUINN’S GREATEST HITS
There is no doubt in my mind that DC Comics do female superheroes better than Marvel. Of my top five favourite super heroines, 4 of them are DC: Supergirl, Power Girl, Batgirl, and Harley Quinn. (For full disclosure’s sake, the Marvel heroine is She-Hulk).

I’ve been a fan of Harley Quinn since her first comic appearance in The Batman Adventures issue #12, but I really liked what I saw in the Bruce Timm/ Paul Dini story Mad Love, though they came at a time when I was drifting out of comics because of how awful they had become in the early 90s so I missed out on a whole pile of her adventures until I became re-united with her when her own comic became a part of the New 52 Universe that DC started several years ago. She wasn’t one of the 52 launch titles, but once her comic started, I was well and truly into it. Harley’s actual first appearance was actually in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series as a sidekick of the Joker.

Who is Harley Quinn, I hear you ask? Harley’s origin sees her as a psychologist Harleen Quinzel who was manipulated by the Joker whilst treating him in Arkham Asylum to fall in love with him. The Joker has a firm ‘treat ‘me mean and keep ‘me keen’ ethos and that really works on Harley.

The Joker decided at one point that she cramped his style, so he attempted to kill her but she was rescued by Poison Ivy (another Batman villain) who assisted in her recovery by giving her various plant potions which also made her more limber, and increased her strength and endurance. She is also resistant to most toxins, including the Joker’s laughing gas.

Harley’s popularity also rose from her appearance in the amazing ‘Arkham’ video game series and she has been a cosplay favourite for a while too. Her appearance in the TV show Birds of Prey went by with just a blip, but her portrayal by Margot Robbie in 2016’s film Suicide Squad nailed her look into people’s regular day-to-day wear,

This collection is a series of 8 stories taken from various comics which show the evolution of the character from throwaway gun moll to superhero in her own right (if you have read the Harley Quinn/ Power Girl 6 issue mini series written by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Palmiotti, Stéphan Roux and Justin Gray). Her character goes from flat out villain to crazy fun-loving within a few pages that represent many years, so it’s funny to see just how much the character has evolved to suit the affection the comic loving populace have for her. Some of the stories are only a few pages long and serves as character vignettes, but others really display the character is all her crazy lights!

Story: This being a historical collection, there is a variety of writes who have worked on it: Scott Beatty, Kelly Puckett, Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini, Adam Glass, Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti and Rob Williams, and the stories are presented in historical order. The Rob Williams story is the most recent and clearly sees the film version of the Suicide Squad become a more comic related group and is an interesting look at where Harley’s mind is as far as wanting to be a superhero is concerned, but for me, the Kicked in the Teeth, from 2011’s Suicide Squad #1 by Adam Glass is the most effective story. The least effective story is Jeph Loeb’s The Opera but only because it was a past of a bigger story that was presented over 12 issues, and there are minor subplots unresolved. It’s not a criticism of Loeb’s writing, but more it’s appearance here is a misstep as it is only a snippet of an entire Batman story.

All in all it’s an uneven story collection, but as a character evolution and dissection, it almost works!

Score: ***1/2

Art: As with the story, the art is of varying quality, but is mostly representative of the story it is presenting. Modern comics art legend Jim Lee makes two appearances here, his better art featuring in the The Opera story, but for me, the fun, cartoony are of Mike Parobeck, whose art lends itself to both an animated or a traditional comic style, in the Batgirl: Day One.

Overall though, I really liked all of the art in this collection.

Score: ****

WIRIA: Am I gonna read a collection of one of my favourite characters more than once? Of course I am.

Suicide Squad (2016) report


I have been a fan of the Suicide Squad comics since the eighties, particularly due to the presence of Flash Villain Captain Boomerang (he’s Australian, it’s national pride) and Deadshot, in the post Legends comics, though I must admit that other series’ that have come out I haven’t always been a fan of; I think I like those ‘non team’ books like this, and Marvel’s Defenders.

I was excited to see this film as I loved the cast, and looked forward to a new Joker as I have never been a fan of Heath Ledger’s portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. 

Suicide Squad takes place in the emerging DC Cinematic universe, and is the third instalment after Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman (though I still believe that these films follow on directly from Nolan’s) and tells of a secret governmental task force run by a ruthless official named Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), and with boots in the ground control by a special ops soldier named Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) which contains bad, awful, villainous occasionally super-powered people who are controlled by bomb in their necks, who are employed to do the dirtiest jobs… The suicide missions… That are too dangerous for soldiers to be sent to.

Honestly, I loved this film. Cast beautifully, shot like a super-slick modern day action film, and is pure blockbuster. I wasn’t disappointed by Jared Leto’s Joker at all, though the perfect comic Joker still hasn’t been done properly, and the rest of the cast, including Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Karen Fukuhara as Katana were bang on, though Cara Delevingne as The Enchantress was.. Well… A little lame,  though she looked amazing. Certainly a lot better than her 80s comic counterpart!


I know this film was tested and then went back to production to add extra bits too it, and there was really one issue with this film: the extra reshoots, whilst seamless, do have a point where one character reacts positively to a current event, that has already happened in his/her particular circumstance. It sat weird with me.

So it’s a big dumb blockbuster and if you expect anything other than explosions, tied together with snide jokes and a bit of sexiness, you should just stay at home. As far as I can see, what you see at the cinema now reflects what you buy at the concession stand: fast food for the mind, and if you expect an exquisite, healthy three-course meal, brother, you need to check yourself.

I do have to give a special note that a tribute to the 80s Suicide Squad creator, John Ostrander, features in this film, and as both a comics and film fan, I like to see that.

No doubt when the inevitable gigantic ultra mega bluray version is released I’ll give a proper review, but for now:

Film: ****