Over the past month, we have reviewed every DC Universe Animated Original Movie that has come out since 2007, including the short film collection, in preparation of the digital release of the DCUA 10th Anniversary Collection (which came out today). That’s 29 reviews in 29 days, and today is day 30! So without any further ado, here is my review of the 30th, and most recent addition to the DCUA series…BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN!!! Enjoy!!!
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Directed By: Sam Liu
Written By: Bruce Timm & Jim Krieg
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Melissa Rauch, Loren Lester, Paget Brewster, Kevin Michael Richardson
Original Release Date: August 15, 2017 (Digital), August 29, 2017 (Blu-ray/DVD)
Batman and Nightwing form an uneasy but needed alliance with Harley Quinn to stop Poison Ivy and The Floronic Man from transforming all of humankind into plants.
The latest DC animated film, Batman and Harley Quinn, had a special one-night theater showing, courtesy of Fathom Events, and I was lucky enough to get a ticket to it, and I’m glad I did. This was an entertaining installment in the DCUA series, and took me back to my younger days of watching my favorite animated comic book show, Batman: The Animated Series. It’s fitting that a Harley Quinn-centric film would be done in the same style as the series that she was created for. The story was even written by Bruce Timm himself.
We also saw the reteaming of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Loren Lester as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, which was awesome to hear. Conroy is always fantastic when he voices The Dark Knight, but it was even more special seeing his Batman back in the style that spawned his version. I also really enjoyed Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn (after a short adjustment period, of course). She brought a fierceness to the character that was necessary for the tone they were going for.
Kevin Michael Richardson, who you may recognize as the voice of The Joker in the animated series The Batman (for which he was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards), brought his deep, powerful voice to the role of Jason Woodrue aka The Floronic Man. He brought such a menacing quality to this character that I knew very little about. He’s essentially an evil version of Swamp Thing from a different dimension.
I loved the animation style as well, which is no surprise, seeing as I love the series it’s pulling from. We saw some great action and some definitely unexpected things, including another DCUA sex scene between Harley Quinn and Nightwing, which was way more believable, and will probably be more accepted than the very controversial Killing Joke sex scene. Because, hey, if Batman and Catwoman can hook up on a rooftop in the comics, why can’t Nightwing get it on with Harley Quinn?
Harley Quinn is very sexualized in this film, but it’s all done as a form of strength, on her own terms. We already talked about her sex scene, but what I didn’t mention was that it was all initiated by her. It was something she wanted. Another instance was when we first see Harley. She’s working in a superhero-themed version of Hooters called Superbabes, where all the waitresses are dressed up like sexy superheroes/villains. Harley is dressed as, you guessed it, herself. She’s obviously portrayed here in a very sexy, provocative way, but as soon as some scumbag grabs her ass, she takes him down, breaking his arm. And the best part about it is that when he complains, the owner just points to a sign that essentially says you can look, but don’t touch. It was pretty awesome.
The final instance that really stands out is a scene at a dive bar where Harley must do a song and dance in order to get some info. I actually really enjoyed the song, as I’m a fan of “Chick Rock”. But during the song she dances very provocatively, shaking her butt and boobs for all to see. Again, this is done on her own terms. She owns that stage and she knows it.
Oh, and they even did a small homage to the ’66 Batman series, using on-screen action words during a fight, with one really funny one in particular which read “OH, MY BALLS!” It was hilarious!!
There are definitely a few issues with this film that stop it from being an instant classic. First and foremost is Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn. Now, as I stated earlier, I enjoyed her voice performance here, but seeing as it was in the BTAS style, and that this year is the 25th anniversary of Harley Quinn, I was REALLY hoping Arleen Sorkin would come out of retirement for one more romp as the Clown Princess of Crime. And I’m even more shocked that they didn’t get Tara Strong to play the part, as she’s been doing it f0r years now.
There were a few scenes that I personally either didn’t care for, or just thought they were there for filler, and no other reason. The first is a scene where Harley chases down a guy that did her wrong in the past. It was a long chase sequence with some fun music to lighten the tone, but in the end it accounted for nothing. It had nothing to do with the story in any way, and seemed to just be used as a time filler.
Another scene was while Batman, Nightwing, and Harley are driving to find Ivy, and Harley says her stomach feels funny. This turns into a very awkwardly juvenile series of fart jokes, which really took me out of the film. The third was shortly after that scene when they all stop at a dive bar. While in there, there is an awkwardly long dance sequence before Harley starts singing, which again felt like filler.
Throughout most of the film, I kept thinking “why hasn’t Swamp Thing stepped in to stop Poison Ivy and The Floronic Man?”, especially once they entered The Green. He finally popped up at the end, but did pretty much nothing, and even Harley Quinn says as much. She said almost exactly what I was thinking. It was very disappointing, as he could’ve been what stopped Floronic Man and made a more satisfying ending. And speaking of the ending, I was somewhat disappointed in it because it seemed to end with no resolution. And if you left the theater or turned off the film before the first set of credits was over, you’d miss the actual resolution.
Also, I just wanted to touch on one last thing that has more to do with the seemingly ongoing trend of including sex in these films in some way. I don’t know if it’s a studio decision or if it’s a director decision (as Sam Liu has directed all the ones I’ve noticed it in), but several recent DCUA films have either included a sex scene or insinuated one. This is done in Justice League: Gods and Monsters between Superman and Wonder Woman, in Batman: The Killing Joke between Batman and Batgirl, in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract between Terra and Deathstroke, and now in this film between Nightwing and Harley Quinn. I worry that they are sticking these in there just to do it, and that it could really affect the quality of the films going forward.
Overall I enjoyed this film and will be buying the Blu-ray when it hits stores on August 29th (especially since there will be a Harley Quinn documentary included called The Harley Effect, of which we saw a clip for). I definitely recommend checking it out, even despite the negatives I listed, because it’s a pretty fun ride. Oh, and stick around all the way to the end of the credits for a fun little extra full scene with Harley.