One of my favorite things about the influx of hero content are the different interpretations we get to see – Batman and Harley Quinn Review
I’m going to start off quickly and bluntly, Batman and Harley Quinn is a fun and funny take on the Dynamic Duo and their new side kick, Harly Quinn. It is a stark contrast to the mixed reviewed The Killing Joke, but do not be ignorant enough to think that it is in response to the critics’ reactions. The process of creating these animated features are planned and developed long before we see it, and understanding the process and the concept time would make it obvious that it would have been impossible to create an animated feature in the year since The Killing Joke‘s reviews were released. It was definitely made to contrast the darkness of The Killing Joke, but it was not made to respond to the critics.
Anyway, back to Batman and Harley Quinn. Batman and Harley Quinn is DC Home Entertainment’s latest animated feature, that starts The Dark Knight, Harley Quinn, and sadly left out of the title, Nightwing. The story takes place in the art style and universe, of Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series, and features the original voices of Kevin Conroy, as Batman, and the long awaited return of Loren Lester, as Nightwing. Batman and Nightwing must stop Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) and the Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) from their diabolical scheme turning the world into plant organisms similar to themselves. In order to track them down, Batman and Nightwing enlist the aid of Harley Quinn, portrayed by Melissa Rauch, who has been released from prison and out on parole for several years and working as a waitress. The movie follows their adventure, following the trio as they take Harley approach to tracking down a lead, and the eventual showdown to prevent Ivy and Floronic Man’s diabolical scheme.
Batman and Harley Quinn is essentially a Batman Comedy. It is full of jokes and gags of all sorts that highlight the contrast between Batman and Harley Quinn. Batman is the ultimate straight man while Harley Quinn is undoubtedly the clown, and Nightwing acts as the reasonable medium. It is a strange dynamic, that works very well comedically. It is by no means high-brow, but most of it does come off as organically funny situations that would arise from the team-up. The overall story is very A-to-B and progresses in a cliche adventure of the week sort of way. But the contrasting personalities really make the ride enjoyable and worth while. And if you’re a long time fan of The Animated Series, you’ll love the call backs and call outs, like the numerous references the Nightwing’s mullet.
The voice performances were all masterfully done. Conroy IS Batman and Lester is still easily my favorite Nightwing voice out there. Paget Brewster perfectly captures a neurotic dreamer in her portrayal of Poison Ivy and Kevin Michale Richardson was able to deliver almost a Shakespearian classiness to the brutally savage Floronic Man. Lastly, Melissa Rauch gave an amazing performance of Harley Quinn. Her accent was on point, her snark was biting, and her joy and excited came off as genuinely maniacal. She also delivered a pretty good singing performance, though I felt the need for a singing performance was out of place. But, being in the art style of The Animated Series, and also having the voices of Lester and Conroy, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that Arleen Sorkin was not portraying Harley’s voice, or even Tara Strong, who I personally feel is as strongly associated with the character as Conroy and Hamill are to theirs. Nothing against Melissa Rauch, who delivered a great Harley Quinn performance in every way, it’s just the strong association I have to the character’s voice to that design and in accompaniment to the supporting voices that doesn’t allow me to embrace her performance.
Bruce Timm’s Animated Series design is alive and well, and really warmly welcomed, in Batman and Harley Quinn. Eagle eyed fans will be able to spot that vehicles from both The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures are used, firmly establishing the film’s presence in the same universe. Timm himself has confirmed his belief that this does take place in the same universe, and is leaving it up to the fans to place it in the chronology for him. The animation, in my opinion, is a notable step up from The Killing Joke, which I felt suffered from consistency in quality. There were scenes where some sprites doing the same motion for extended times are used, mainly in the song sequence, but it looked a lot better than the looping animation in The Killing Joke. The sound engineering was also very well done and gave an incredible amount of depth to the scenes.
While overall, I enjoyed the movie, it is not without its flaws. If you are only a fan of the gritty/serious Batman, you might really hate this movie. Batman is complicit in a pretty low-brow fart joke if that helps give the perspective of how out there this movie is. Minus say one moment, Batman is pretty true to character. Minus one moment, which I can’t give away, everything feels organic to the characters, albeit somewhat forced. The fart joke, for example, while funny at first, was drawn out a bit too long. I also feel the singing scene, was unnecessary. It fit the tone of the movie, but I can understand why many would be irked by a musical number in a Batman movie. Batman and Harley Quinn is essentially the opposite of The Killing Joke in tone, and fans should expect Batman and Nightwing to be in some unexpected situations.
Batman and Harley Quinn is a fun and funny adventure that is unlike anything The Caped Crusader, and the audience, have experienced before. It is filled with jokes and gags that are over the top, but still feel organic to the lore. The comedic tone is a something I feel that some fans might not appreciate, due to serious gravitas often associated with Batman. But I personally think it is a welcomed change of pace and a testament to how dimensional the stories involving super heroes can be. If you’re looking for a fun movie, a fan of Batman The Animated Series, or obsessed with Harley Quinn, I believe you’ll really enjoy this film. My Batman and Harley Quinn review gets a 4/5 Stars.
Batman and Harley Quinn is airing a one night only run in theaters on August 14th, 2017!
Get your tickets to Batman and Harley Quinn at Fathom Events
Then stream it on digital August 15th and pick it up Blu-Ray/DVD on August 29th, 2017.