The Ninjabot

REVIEW: Batman and Harley Quinn

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 11:01 am by Andrew Kendall

Batman and Harley Quinn

After Batman: The Killing Joke was received with mixed reviews and controversy, this latest Batman film in the DC Animated Universe: Batman and Harley Quinn, has regained favor with a fun new story in the tone and visual style of Batman: The Animated Series. This contrasting approach makes the film much more enjoyable than recent iterations in the DC Animated Universe.

Sam Liu is once again behind the helm of this Batman-centric tale, using an original story from Bruce Timm and James Krieg. Bruce Timm is known mostly for his work in the animation department and the character/animation style and look definitely reflects his history with Batman: The Animated Series. James Krieg on the other hand has been writing for years and most notably wrote for the excellent film Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox. While the story doesn’t quite rise to the merit of Flashpoint Paradox, it is still quite enjoyable.

The film opens to Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) holding the police at bay in S.T.A.R Labs while Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) searches through labs files for information on the “Bio-Restorative Project.” Upon finding the data, the more lighthearted tone of the film is made apparent through the title sequence as cheesily 2D animated characters chase each other around and interact with the opening credits. Afterwards, Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lester) arrive at the scene to investigate and learn of the duo behind break-in. Batman decides to focus on discovering a motive, while Nightwing is tasked to find Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch) as she can point them in the direction of Ivy.

Batman and Harley Quinn 3

Kevin Conroy excels in the Batman role again. He plays his serious “I’m Batman!” moments well while interacting with the cops and discovering that Floronic Man and Ivy plan to turn all of humanity into plants. His exasperation with Nightwing and Harley antics also shows through. Loren Lester returns to voice Nightwing and deftly handles his awkwardness upon finding Harley hiding in plain sight at a Superbabes restaurant (think Hooters), and her attempts to seduce him, after a brawl in the street.

The cast however shines with newcomers Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) and Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds). Melissa Rauch voices the wide range required for Harley Quinn exceptionally well. Her anger at the difficulty a girl trying to go straight and live an honest life are just as believable as her humorous quips and jokes. Paget Brewster plays a determined but sometimes doubtful Poison Ivy and the moments between her and Melissa are charged, especially keeping in mind their history.

While this film maybe be called Batman and Harley Quinn, this story is more around Harley as her interactions with the other characters remain critical to the plot. Batman struggles with whether or not to trust her while also relying on her help, Nightwing is inept and doesn’t know how to act around her, Ivy loves her but feels betrayed, and Floronic Man views her as nothing but an enemy. Her tenuous relationship with everyone raises the stakes as one is not quite sure what might happen next.

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As lackluster as the story might be at times, it is made up for with the nostalgic animation, the more lighthearted tone (compared to The Killing Joke), a fun soundtrack, and the excellent cast of characters. While it may not rank among the greats of superhero films, it sure rivals the moody, muddled look of some live-action superhero films of late. If nothing else, fans of Harley Quinn will enjoy and get the most out of this latest Batman animated film.

Batman and Harley Quinn is available now digitally and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 29, 2017.

Letter Grade: B+

Follow Andrew on Twitter @mistwhisper117 to find out which movie he’ll see next and if it’s worth your time.

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