BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN review

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Gotta love Fathom Events.

So I won’t claim to know too much about this film other than it’s obviously animated, but it also looks like it’s got the same animation style as BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1992 – 1995). It’s still Warner Bros. Animation, so I suppose that’d make sense, huh? Well, hey, I’m down for anything Batman. The story looks like it’s about Poison Ivy and… someone who is somehow not Swamp Thing, I don’t read comics, so I have no idea who her side-kick is, trying to take over Gotham and Batman and Nightwing team up with Harley Quinn to take them down. This sounds like an interesting twist as Harley and Ivy are usually pretty close. Aren’t they? Like, sometimes romantically linked, close? I’m curious to see how this pans out. Not to mention, it looks like it’s going to be a pretty light-hearted Batman by comparison to what we’ve had in the past. No, I’m not just referring to BATMAN V SUPERMAN (2016), or the Nolan films, but also the mixed reviewed animated film THE KILLING JOKE (2016). I have to say, it might be nice to see a shift in tone for once.

Anywho, here’s the voice talent. Starring, we have the only Batman that has ever mattered, Kevin Conroy (BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, video game INJUSTICE 2 [2017], and TV show JUSTICE LEAGUE [2001 – 2004]), Melissa Rauch (THE BRONZE [2016], ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE [2016], and TV show THE BIG BANG THEORY [2007 – ongoing]), and Paget Brewster (JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS [2015], and TV show CRIMINAL MINDS [2005 – ongoing], and the animated GODZILLA: THE SERIES [1998 – 2001]). In support, we have veteran Dick Grayson voice actor Loren Lester (video games BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT [2015] and BATMAN: RISE OF SIN TZU [2003] and TV show BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES) and voice acting giant, Kevin Michael Richardson (TV shows TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES [2012 – ongoing], AMERICAN DAD! [2005 – ongoing], and THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS [2001 – ongoing]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have veteran DC animation director Sam Liu, known for TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT (2017), BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, and BATMAN: YEAR ONE (2011). Co-writing the screenplay are, and now it makes so much sense, veteran Batman writers Bruce Timm (JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS, BATMAN BEYOND [1999 – 2001], and BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES) and James Krieg (JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX [2013], WHAT’S NEW, SCOOBY-DOO? [2002 – 2006], and animated TV show SPIDER-MAN [1994 – 1998]). The composers for the score are frequent collaborators and Batman veterans, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis, all known for BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, and TV shows YOUNG JUSTICE (2010 – ongoing) and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (2004 – 2006).

Overall, anyone who’s a fan of the Batman license is going to see this flick, and you can bet your sweet bippy I’m going to be there too.

This is my honest opinion of: BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN

(SUMMARY)

Poison Ivy (voiced by Paget Brewster) and the Floronic Man (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) have kidnapped a scientist to help create a serum that will be used to cleanse mankind and turn everyone into a plant-human hybrid like himself and Ivy. When Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (voiced by Loren Lester) are on the case, they are forced to team up with Ivy’s best friend and attempting-to-reform Harley Quinn (voiced by Melissa Rauch) to help track the pair down and stop their plans for world dominance.

(REVIEW)

Well this was an interesting experience to say the least.

Like most kids who grew up in the 90s, I was a huge fan of the Batman animated series. It was dark, mature, and totally bad-ass. Well… despite this pretty much being a reunion in terms of the creators of that series, this movie is… not dark or mature. It’s not even all that bad-ass. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad or anything, but… yeah, it’s maybe a little too different than what we were expecting.

First off, the comedy is front and center when the titles start going by. It’s a bunch of slapstick almost in the same vein as a Roadrunner-Wile E Coyote cartoon. It’s only an opening animation to let the audience know what the tone will be, and it’s funny, but there’s still something not right about seeing the “animated series Batman” getting flattened by an anvil and having his tongue hanging out of his mouth in pain.

Once the movie starts, though, the animation is pitch perfect. If you were expecting it to at least look like the animated series, then you’re in for a real treat. Conroy as Batman, Lester as Nightwing, it’s all a special kind of amazing coupled with the animation style. But it doesn’t take long for the issues to crop up. For as kid-friendly as the movie makes itself out to be in the opening titles, this gets shockingly adult. In order to locate Harley, who’s fresh out of Arkham Asylum, is attempting to go straight and leave behind her life of crime by working as a waitress. But not in just any restaurant, mind you. It’s a sleazy joint where the waitresses are dressed as slutty versions of superheroes and villains. I assume a hooters for DC heroes.

And then one of my major complaints rears its ugly head: Harley Quinn. Oh, not that her design is somehow different and interior. No, it’s the classic one piece jester outfit that made her so iconic and popular and I’ll never complain about the classics. It’s her voice actress I can’t stand: Melissa Rauch. Let me be clear, I don’t mind this woman as an actress. She’s funny and enjoyable enough on BIG BANG THEORY, but many of her other ventures have been less than ideal for me. I consider THE BRONZE to be one of the absolute worst films I’ve ever seen. While this isn’t nearly as bad, of course, Rauch is no Tara Strong. Not by a long shot. Not even in the same ball park. It’s like the woman, despite her natural squeaky voice, was trying to make her voice funny, which is totally backward. It’s not funny voices that make a funny character, it’s a funny character that makes funny voices, and all I got from Rauch was that she was trying to be Harley Quinn. She was making her too cartoony. There’s scenes where we’re supposed to feel sympathy for her for trying to straighten her act and be a better person for herself, rattling off hospitals and such places that refused her because she used to be a mentally unstable villain, hence the restaurant. But it’s completely offset by her line delivery which feels like she’s trying to make jokes out of what she’s saying, even though it’s more on the dramatic side. This never lets up, either.

There’s a random-ass scene where Nightwing and Harley have sex. Admittedly, that’s pretty humorous, especially when Batman walks in on the aftermath and doesn’t say a word… just glares. But don’t get me started on that open mic scene. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well watch me get myself started by bitching about that. The movie comes to such a complete halt that even stop signs are telling the movie to relax, and we spend a good five minutes listening to Rauch sing a hard rock song that is both grating to the ears and horrendously indiscernible in its lyrics. She’s gyrating all over the stage, showing off her ass and shaking her tits, it’s… unbelievably uncomfortable. About the only comedic thing to come out of it is a humorous moment watching Batman tap his fingers the beat of the song.

If it’s not painfully clear, this is the only iteration of Harley Quinn that I dread. She’s certainly gone through her costume changes over the course of her twenty-five year run, and not all of her costumes are, shall we say, conservative. She dresses skimpy from time to time, absolutely, but the character has evolved into something more than just a gag throwaway character. I’d get into the specifics, but at the end of the day, this movie almost misses the point of Harley entirely. She’s flirtatious, sure, but as sexy as she dresses, she doesn’t really flaunt it like this movie did. No joke, I preferred Margot Robbie’s Harley from SUICIDE SQUAD (2016). She was far less obnoxious.

About the only time I truly enjoy Harley is when she’s interacting with Poison Ivy. Let’s just say the resolution for that is hilarious. She’s also got some humorous reactions to other moments, like a brief cameo from Swamp Thing (voiced by John DiMaggio). I won’t give a thing away, but… it’s worth it.

So is the movie bad? I’m not talking about the positives as much, am I? Well, truth be told, it is very funny. The animation is wonderful. The throwbacks to the classic show is unbelievably enjoyable. And… yeah, it really was nice to have a Batman movie that’s not all dark and broody. Not that they’re bad, they’re awesome if done well, but the light-hearted tone of this flick is very welcomed. It’s mostly great where it counts. But yeah, Rauch as Harley… not fun. But I do recommend this to be checked out by any fans of Batman and the animated series. Just be careful when showing your kids. It’s not really for them.

My honest rating for BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN: a strong 3/5

Batman-Harley-Quinn-2D

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