Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, attempt to re-create on a global scale the accident that transformed Alec Holland into the Swamp Thing. Batman and Nightwing are then forced to team with the Joker’s sometimes girlfriend and Ivy’s former best friend, Harley Quinn, to stop the global threat.
Batman and Harley Quinn
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Melissa Rauch, Kevin Michael Richardson and Paget Brewster.
Written by: Bruce Timm & James Krieg
Directed by: Sam Liu
The Warner Bros. animated DCU properties have always been a bit of a mixed bag. For every Batman: The Animated Series, which got everything right and is in my opinion still the definitive version of Batman outside the actual comics, there is something like the adaptation of The Killing Joke, which took something great and all but ruined it. The latest project, Batman and Harley Quinn, falls somewhere in-between.
First I’ll tell you about the good. The voice cast is great. Kevin Conroy is now THE voice of Batman (it’s him I hear when I read the comics) and he delivers as always. Melissa Rauch, from The Big Bang Theory, also does a good job with Harley Quinn. She has huge shoes to fill taking over the great job Arlene Sorkin did on the animated series, but she does well here. She gives Harley a nice balance of menace, pathos and humor. Loren Lester, as Nightwing, has good chemistry with both Conroy and Rauch. He gives Dick Grayson a flippant levity that is also welcome. And a highlight for me was Kevin Michael Richardson as The Floronic Man, who imbues the character with an eerie otherworldliness that is quite effective.
There are also some cool details. Bringing in Swamp Thing was a nice surprise. And the small appearance by Sarge Steele was a good deep cut. There are actually plenty of easter eggs and jokes for DCU fans to discover, which makes it fun at times. Keep your ears on alert for Booster Gold.
The style and design of the movie are also much like the ’90s series. It’s filled with art deco architecture, expressionistic shadows, and red skies. That element gave me a bit of a nostalgic kick.
Now on with the bad. The animation itself is a bit rough at times; it’s inconsistent. It goes from smooth to choppy and doesn’t flow well from scene to scene.
The music is horrible. It’s filler, boring and adds nothing.
The tone of the movie is also all over the place, going from slapstick humor to strong sexual innuendo to superhero action in a strange rhythm that just doesn’t grab you. It can’t decide at times what it is and that doesn’t make it compelling.
It also tries way too hard at times to be funny. And one sequence actually relies on fart humor that goes on way too long (And I’m no snob. A well placed fart noise will always be CLASSIC. But cut the cheese and move on folks!)
In the end, this is an average film that really just feels like a longer subpar episode of Batman: The Animated Series. And that’s a shame because tying it to that world gives you a lot of potential. And that potential was sadly not met by this film.