DC Universe Animated Original Movies makes another amazing animated feature with their 29th film – Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review
There are a few comic books stories that transcend the medium and are known by the masses. There’s Batman: The Killing Joke, DC Flashpoint Paradox, Marvel Secret Wars, Marvel Civil War, and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. These stories are iconic, help shape and restructure comic books. They push the boundaries and take these characters who fans have known for years to new depths and dimensions, physically and symbolically. But, what might be the most important part, these stories get made into movies.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is the 29th film from DC Universe Animated Original Movies and the 10th film in the DCU Continuity which was started in The Flashpoint Paradox. This is the first standalone Teen Titans film, and it might be the best one yet. The film opens with a flashback of the Titans 5 years ago, with Robin, Dick Grayson, Kid Flash, Wally West, Speedy, Roy Harper, Bumblebee, Karen Beeceher, and Beast Boy, Garfield Logan. The team is cruising around in their, or Dick’s, Titan buggy when suddenly a fight between aliens burst out over the city. A scantily clad orange alien, with green eyes, is being chased and attacked by a group of alien warriors. The Titans hesitate for a brief moment deciding which side is good and which is bad before Dick quickly informs the team to save the orange alien because it’s obvious she’s the good one. Kid Flash notes, “The fact that she’s hot has nothing to do with it.” The Titans quickly save her, and the orange alien kisses Dick. She then begins speaking English telling the Titans her people can learn languages by kissing and introduces herself as Koriand’r. Wally and Roy then offer to help teach her their rudimentary grasps of French and Spanish.
Title sequence rolls then we are transported to the present. The Titans, now composed of Raven, Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, Robin, Damian Wayne, newly rejoined Nightwing, Dick Grayson, and Terra, are lead by Koriand’r, Starfire, are going to raid a Hive base. Nightwing has been tracking Hive for about a year and rejoined the Titans. Hive is informed of the Titan’s presence by a shadowy one-eyed figure, who we later realize is Deathstroke. During the raid, Nightwing tells Starfire he is moving back to the city and asks if she wants to take their relationship to the next step and move in with him. After the raid, Nightwing puts the information recovered from the raid into the computer that has all of the other information he has gathered and set it to look for any connections or they can use to find out what Hive is up to. The process is set to take time, from here the film focuses on two narratives, the lives and relationships of the Titans, and the plot of Brother Blood and Hive. Eventually having both narratives seamlessly combine into the final showdown.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract might be the biggest game changer to the DCU since The Flashpoint Paradox. The story was a superb adaptation of the comic book. Full disclosure, I have not read The Judas Contract but from the reaction of the crowd and our EIC, I can say it with confidence that it did justice to the source material. The story had some very heartfelt and relatable emotions, that I believe the Teen Titans always did well. It hits feelings that are very common and also captures really well how younger people tend to deal with those feelings, often times growing up because of it. The story also has some controversial content that revolves around religion and pedophilia. Fans of the comics will not be shocked, but for those that do not know the subject material, things get uncomfortable but done in a way that isn’t abhorrent for the sake shock value. It all plays into the story. In contrast, but on equal grounds in terms of impact, the humor in the film is absolutely hilarious. Every joke and gag are perfectly delivered. The lines are delivered flawlessly in terms of tone, cadence, timing, banter, and it is even more impressive that the actors did not record together. That just goes to show their talent, as well as the production teams’, because you would never have known if you weren’t told. Also, I have to praise the jokes for being perfectly crafted to amuse more mature viewers, while using language that younger children understand. There were numerous times I heard the younger audience members asking about a joke that would fly over their head. Lastly, Starfire’s characterization through the jokes is brilliant. Her obliviousness to certain Earth customs and colloquialisms make for most of the best jokes and moments in the movie. The Teen Titans team, and film, are hers to lead.
The action sequences are as exhilarating as ever, with masterful choreography that masterfully mixes in the characters unique styles and abilities that are elevated by the unison and teamwork the Titans have forged. It is an appropriate storytelling device that not only looks straight up awesome, but makes perfect sense considering each Titan has grown as a fighter and their bonds have only further developed as teammates. There’s a particular scene with Beast Boy and Blue Beetle just volleying a foe amongst each other that really shows how adept they are with their abilities, but also how in sync they are as teammates.
The only technical flaw would be the variance in animation quality. I’m only bringing this up to be critical, and overall it has no effect on the film, but because my seat was so uncomfortable I got taken out of the moment I noticed it. Some shots are noticeably less detailed and lacking. It is not obvious, but it would also not take too much effort to see. It wasn’t as harsh a contrast as it was in Batman: The Killing Joke, but it is there. Again, it will not affect the experience of the film, but if you really want to complain it’s there.
What I particularly like about this one is the lack of Batman. Not that I don’t like Batman, but we essentially get a new Batman animated feature every year, while the rest of the DC Universe falls to the wayside or hopes to be put into a Justice League, but these are conversations better had elsewhere, and you can learn a lot about them in our interview with James Tucker. I tend to fanboy out on DC animated films and tend to like most of them. They have amazing animation, superb adapted stories, masterful acting, and just overall good movies. However, this is a purely personal critique that does not change anything, I feel Nightwing gets shafted a lot. In Under the Red Hood he gets his leg broken. In Bad Blood he gets his arm broken. Nightwing, Dick Grayson, in my mind, is a slight step below Batman. Among the Robins, he would win in combat. He’s better than Jason Todd, and for now, better than Damian. He should also be able to take on Deathstroke on his own. However, Deathstroke does get better out of nowhere a lot, so it makes sense. But I feel Nightwing has never been given his proper due in the DCU. It’s mentioned how good he is, how much of a natural leader he is, but he always kind of never lives up to his reputation in these films. He hasn’t really lived up to how great he is since the Teen Titans cartoon series. Personal gripe, but I can’t be the only one thinking it.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is one of the best films in the DC Universe Animated Movies. It is a masterful piece of animation, a brilliantly adapted story, and a perfectly performed film. The film has a great and relatable story, adrenaline inducing action, and provides deep belly laughter. It is a probably the most mature depiction of the Titans in animation and probably not suitable for younger children as there are some graphic scenes. However, the dialogue and all the more mature humor are masterfully woven to entertain the more mature viewers without sullying child minds. The film is just an absolute delight in every sense. I give my Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review a 5/5.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract releases digitally Tuesday, April 4th, 2017, and physically on Blu-Ray and DVD April 18th, 2017 From Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is one of the best films in the DC Universe Animated Movies. It is a masterful piece of animation, a brilliantly adapted story, and a perfectly performed film. The film has a great and relatable story, adrenaline inducing action, and provides deep belly laughter. It is a probably the most mature depiction of the Titans in animation and probably not suitable for younger children as there are some graphic scenes. However, the dialogue and all the more mature humor are masterfully woven to entertain the more mature viewers without sullying child minds. The film is just an absolute delight in every sense.