“Batman and Harley Quinn” stars Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Melissa Rauch, Paget Brewster, Kevin Michael Richardson, and John DiMaggio. Released in theaters as a one-night event on August 14, 2017, the film has Batman and Nightwing forming an unlikely alliance with Harley Quinn in order to stop a sinister plot formed by Poison Ivy and Floronic Man.
The film is directed by Sam Liu, and it is the 29th film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series. More than a year ago, I attended a special theatrical event of the film adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke courtesy of Fathom Events. While it wasn’t exactly what die-hard fans of the source material had come to expect, I thought it was a nice experience regardless. You can find my full review for “Batman: The Killing Joke” in the ‘2016 Reviews’ page. This year, Fathom Events is pulling off the ‘theatrical event’ strategy once again for this latest DC animated film before it hits shelves by the end of the month. With that said, let’s see if this new adventure with the Caped Crusader can offer the same experience as The Killing Joke.
While the film’s story doesn’t take inspiration from a specific Batman comic, it does manage to remind people of Batman: The Animated Series in terms of its look and the people who worked on it, most notably writer Bruce Timm and voice actors Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester. You might consider it to be some sort of unaired episode of Batman: The Animated Series (if you’re able to), but in this case, it’s basically another ordinary direct-to-DVD superhero adventure...that garnered a PG-13 rating. If you’ve been following the DC animated direct-to-DVD lineup, this film is pretty much what you’re going to expect in terms of its style. Like many other films that went straight to home media, it has its share of flaws that somehow damages its quality, but despite all that, it was a fun ride. The voice cast did a decent job with their performances, including Conroy as Batman. After so many years of voicing the Caped Crusader, he still never lost his touch. Melissa Rauch, who is known for her role in The Big Bang Theory, provides the voice of Harley Quinn in this animated adventure, who is tasked to help Batman and Nightwing find Poison Ivy. Honestly, I thought she did a very nice job with her role. She flawlessly nailed her sassy and psychological attitude. One thing that I should mention about Harley in this film is that she offers an interesting amount of sex appeal compared to her other animated iterations, hence the film’s PG-13 rating. Not as sexy as Margot Robbie’s Harley in Suicide Squad, but this version came pretty close. I believe what made this film fun for me was the chemistry between Batman, Nightwing, and Harley Quinn. Their unusual alliance is like something out of a buddy comedy like Rush Hour, and while the story wound up being average at best, it’s their personalities, the humor, and the talented cast behind these characters that carried it forward. The animation and the character designs are very similar to the style of Batman: The Animated Series. The only difference is that it added an extra dose of violence and language into the mix, along with some sexual content. It’s decent enough as it captured the look and feel of an unaired Batman episode from the 90s that was deemed too intense for younger viewers, but like most animated direct-to-DVD movies, it’s pretty limited. Like I mentioned before, the storytelling is pretty average. There were a few moments that I thought could’ve been expanded more in order to increase its amount of character depth. I’m not going to explain what they were because I don’t want to spoil it for you guys before its official release. If you really want to know what they were, I’m afraid that you’re going to have to watch it for yourself. Another thing that I’m not a fan of was the ending. Wow…just…wow…. When I saw it for the first time, I was like, “Wait, that’s it? That’s how it ends?” I’m telling you, guys, there are a lot of films I saw that have abrupt endings, but this one takes the award for having the worst abrupt ending in direct-to-DVD history, in my opinion.
Overall, “Batman and Harley Quinn” offers the same antics that most direct-to-DVD movies are known for. Despite its average storytelling and its abrupt ending, this film is a suitable and fun addition to the DC animated collection. As for my theatrical experience, it wasn’t as perfect as my Killing Joke experience, but as a follower of Batman, I had a good time viewing it on the big screen. The film will be released digitally on August 15 and on Blu-ray August 29.