Starring: Kevin Conroy, Melissa Rauch, Paget Brewster, Loren Lester, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio
Written By: Bruce Timm, James Krieg
Directed By: Sam Liu
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
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With Poison Ivy teaming up with Jason Woodrue aka the Floronic Man to turn humanity into plants, Batman and Nightwing must join forces with one of their deadliest and most unpredictable enemies…Harley Quinn.
“Batman and Harley Quinn” is by definition something of a continuation/tribute to the award-winning “Batman: The Animated Series”. Bruce Timm returns again to write the script and reintroduces the world to his distinct animation art style. While “Justice League: Gods and Monsters” was more of an Elseworlds alternate reality, “Batman and Harley Quinn” could/might possibly/maybe be considered a continuation of events from “B:TAS” but with a Harley Quinn that is more in line with her modern DC Comics anti-hero status.
Having given up on the Joker and a life in crime, Harley now works at a superhero version of Hooters as a cosplay waitress of herself in one of her more modern outfits. When Batman and Nightwing find out that Poison Ivy is involved in a world dominating plot, they seek out Harley in order to get her help in locating Ivy. After a brief fight and some awkward sexplay between Nightwing and Harley (apparently Nightwing gets a chubby and either Harley rapes him or they make out and tickle each other until Batman arrives…it’s kind of left unsaid), they trio form an uneasy alliance to save the world.
While I would obviously be interested in this movie either way, my interest was piqued tenfold with some Swamp Thing references right from the start. With plenty of nods to him throughout the story, including his swamp being name the Len-Wright swamp (his creators were two of comics greats in the incomparable Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson), I was excited for the aspect of finally seeing Swamp Thing appear in “Batman: The Animated Series” style! It would be too good to be true.
I found both flaws and boons to the feel of “Batman and Harley Quinn”. On one hand, I’m not much of a fan of modern comic book/movie Harley Quinn. I feel that she’s been pushed to be nothing more than DC’s version of Deadpool who has grown tired and trite in his own right. On the other hand, Bruce Timm and James Kreig manage to combine the enjoyable elements of Harley from the animated series with some of the goofier modern aspects of Harley. I found it refreshing to have her being entirely independent of the Joker and for her to hold her own weight against Batman and Nightwing. Her relationship with Poison Ivy in the animated series was one of the most interesting dynamics from the series and it was done justice in this movie. Their friendship felt genuine and down to earth for a reformed crown princess of crime and a human/plant hybrid woman.
One of the things that fits the animated movie but is a departure from the animated series is the lighter overall tone of the characters and not just Harley Quinn. I believe that the movie would have been much less enjoyable if it consisted of the stern Batman continuously yelling at Harley’s antics or comments. Instead, Batman was allowed to bend a little and go along for the ride. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Batman and company go to a supervillain dive bare looking for one of Ivy’s henchmen. Someone jokingly buys Batman a glass of milk while he stares on angrily at musicians on stage. After they get their info they go to leave and all of the henchmen block their exit. Batman chugs the milk, wipes his mouth and and then goes to town and kicks their asses offscreen. He is also seen dancing briefly while Harley is on stage. Kevin Conroy always does an amazing job with Batman and his take of deadpan Batman humor is on par with his gruff and gritty Batman.
Whether you’re a fan of “Batman: The Animated Series”, the Caped Crusader in general, Harley Quinn, Nightwing or any of the Bat Family, “Batman and Harley Quinn” is yet another example of the superior quality of DC’s animated films. I know that it’s like beating a dead horse but, even though this movie really doesn’t officially fall into any of the other movies’ continuity, it has its own unique feel and flavor to it. It’s a fitting tribute to the old and the new. You have elements of the pulp noir Gotham City paired up with the lush organic southern swamps. There are some interesting relationships both old and new with the lead cast and yes, spoiler alert………………….Swamp Thing appears…and pretty much does nothing on purpose and it’s awesome!
Own it now on Digital or August 29 on Blu-Ray!
The Harley Effect
Loren Lester: In His Own Voice
A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie: “Batman: Gotham By Gaslight”
2 Bonus Cartoons
DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 Dolby Digital
English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles
1080p High Definition 16×9 1.78:1
Bottom Line: An interesting mix of the old and the new. The style, setting and feel of the movie is that of “Batman: The Animated Series” but with a focus on a modern Harley Quinn. There are some awkward Harley moments and a fair show of her sex appeal, but it doesn’t bring the movie down. “Batman and Harley Quinn” is a fun trip down memory lane that is true to the old and the new. It’s kind of like a college buddy road trip movie…with Swamp Thing in it!
Running Time: 74 Mins