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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Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Teen Titan: The Judas Contract (2017)


Film: Often in movie circles you’ll hear people talk about how great the Marvel cinematic Universe is, or how DC are trying to copy its success, blah blah blah, but the BEST movies about super heroes are often overlooked.

The DC animated movies started in 2008 with somewhat of a whimper with the not-very-good Batman Gotham Knights, and apart from an occasional misstep, these features have been far superior to, well, ANY cinematic film in my opinion. Why is this? Several reasons…

… and I have to admit as being a lifelong comics fan as a justification of some of these reasons.

The first is that the animated features don’t feel the need to give the origin of every single hero they introduce if it doesn’t move the story along. Does Martian Manhunter’s origin tie into the story that is being told? No? They show what he can do, as the why’s and wherefores are incidental.


Another is that even though there are a few costume cosmetic changes, in general the costumes of the heroes are similar to the comics. I do appreciate that blue and yellow spandex may not be the greatest look on film, and that cinematic tone may not read it well, but it’s just comforting to see Batman in blue and grey.

The other thing is, and I’ve mentioned it before, is that these film can be watched as a singular film or as part of their various subsets, without the weight of 36 hours of other movies to prop it up. It’s fine to make a film series, but if some of the films don’t really stand on their own, what’s the point?

Another thing is that there is a regularity of cast that don’t need to change due to age or fitness levels. Kevin Conroy has been playing the animated Batman on and off for years!

Basically I wish DC would abandon their live-action universe and concentrate on these, and their TV series’ like Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash, and maybe their video games.

This one is especially special to me as in the early 80s when the two best comics around were Marvel’s The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, I was totally in love with both. When Marvel and DC did a crossover with them I almost exploded.

The panel of Cyclops and Robin shaking hands blew my mind!

Anyway, of those early issues of The New Teen Titans, one of the best storylines was The Judas Contract, and apart for a few alterations necessary, such as some Titans roster changes, the plot is very similar.

Our story starts with these stories version of the original Teen Titans: Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Bumblebee and Beast Boy, meeting K’oriander, aka Starfire: the future leader of the Titans. We then flash forward to 5 years later (now?) and we meet the current Titans: Starfire, Nightwing (who was the original Robin), the new Robin, Blue Beetle, Raven, Beast Boy (still) and Terra.


A rising threat known as H.I.V.E. and it’s leader Brother Blood are a concern to the Titans, and Nightwing is investigating everything to do with them, but what if one of the Titans is a traitor… working for the assassin, Deathstroke? 

As with most of these features, the art direction and story telling is fantastic, and the story moves along at quite the clip. It does vary slightly from the comics due to the aforementioned roster changes, but in essence it tells a great story about teamwork, friendship, Stockholm Syndrome, betrayal and what it takes to be a hero.

The best thing about it is just how dastardly awful Deathstroke is. So many superhero films show the bad guys in, not a positive light, but they certainly seem cooler than the heroes. This film aborts that ideal and Deathstroke is an absolute piece of crap who is totally unlikable, potentially a paedophile and a child beater: in short, a proper villain.

The voice acting in this film was excellent, with special guests like Christina Ricci as Terra, Gregg Henry as Sebastian Blood, Kevin Smith as himself and tragically, Deathstroke was the last role that Miguel Ferrer before he succumbed to cancer.

This was a fantastic film, and I hope another Teen Titans one gets made as the character dynamic makes for great fun, adventurous films.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region B bluray, and is presented in an impressive 1.78:1 image with an amazing DTS-HD 5.1audio.

Score: *****

Extras: As usual, a great bunch of extras appears on this disc: 

Titanic Minds: Reuniting Wolfman and Pérez. So I totally fanboyed out when I saw this extra as these guys made amazing comics when they were making New Teen Titans comics. This is a small round table with writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, two absolute legends of comic history who rebooted the Teen Titans from being a moderately successful team of sidekicks into a group of heroes to rival the justice League, and it became the number 1 comic for a time. These extras get 5 stars JUST for how historically relevant this is.

Villain Rising: Deathstroke explores the history of the character with comments from Wolfman, Pérez and DC Entertainment’s Mike Carlin.

There are three ‘Sneak Peaks’ at other DC Animated films, the forthcoming Batman and Harley Quinn, and previous entries, Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.

There is also two episodes of the Teen Titans cartoon, ‘Terra’ and ‘Titans Rising’.

Finally we have a bunch of trailers for the DC All Access App, Justice League Dark, The Jetsons &WED: Robo-Wrestlemania and the video game, Injustice 2. The disc also opens with a trailer for the incoming Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot!

Score: *****

WISIA: Yes. Again and again.