Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review – Don’t Spoil Your Memories

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories

I popped in the Blu-ray for Batman and Harley Quinn filled with giddy expectation and joyful nostalgia. As someone reared and raised on Batman: The Animated Series in the 90s, simply seeing the old Bruce Timm character designs filled me with joy. Knowing that the movie would revive the original Harley Quinn created for that show in an age when poor Harley has been sexualized and stylized to emo boner fantasies felt like exactly what I needed to get back into the character. As the opening scenes played out, I also realized that the plot involved my beloved Swamp Thing and that I’d even get to see a character who I adore so much in the classic Batman TAS aesthetic. It seemed like an animated feature that was meant for me and would help revive my love for good ol’ Batman in an era when the cinematic DCU has made me question my loyalty for the character.

Then the plot started and my heart sank lower and lower until the credits rolled.

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories 7
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

A huge appeal of Batman and Harley Quinn is the fact that Bruce Timm was in charge and presumably bringing back the aesthetic and storytelling that he founded in the 90s and proved to be so popular that it spawned an entire DC universe for a generation of TV animation brats. He wrote this movie after all, and the guy was responsible for several of the finest episodes of the Batman Animated Series. However, even though he designed Harley Quinn, he didn’t write the character. That fell onto the great and underrated Paul Dini whose presence was sadly missed here. Dini has a sense of humour and a dedication to empathizing with broken characters that made Harley Quinn an icon. Timm simply liked the look of the character—and boy does that ever show here.

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

After a decent prologue establishing that Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) has teamed up with Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) to steal Dr. Alec Holland/Swamp Thing’s formula to turn the world into living plants as revenge for the climate change destroying plant life perpetrated by humanity. Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lester) figure out the dastardly plot, but don’t know where to find the villains. So they decide to track down some of Poison Ivy’s old associates for help, which leads them to Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch).

So far, so good. The design is almost fetishistically true to the original Batman TAS (with the exception of Nightwing’s mullet, thank god). The plot held promise and it was a crossover between Batman and Swamp Thing that should have happened on the TV series decades ago. The tone was in line with Batman TAS at its goofiest. This thing could work. Then Nightwing finds Harley at a superhero Hooters restaurant where model waitresses dress up as heroes to be ogled. Harley is working there, but wearing one of the more excessively sexualized Harley outfits from recent years. It felt like a self-aware joke at first, and then it became clear the cartoon ogling was sadly sincere. Once Batman, Nightwing, and Harley Quinn teamed up the movie soon devolved into a series of crass sex jokes and even a handful of fart jokes.

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories 2
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The whole movie felt off. Like Timm was trying to make a funny Batman: TAS episode but forgot how so he resorted to frat house gags to fill the space. By the time the team stopped at a bar on the road and the movie paused for not one, but two consecutive karaoke numbers for the sake of quirky humour, I was out. Somehow Timm and co. blew the opportunity to revive the iconic version of Batman that they had once created. In its place wasn’t just a pale imitation, but an insult to fans. It has all of the bro humour and unnecessary violence that has dragged down recent DC animated movies. Only this was worse. Not only more crass and gratuitous than the DC animated movies that fans already complained about, but completely tone deaf and lazy (and this is coming from a guy who actually defended the loathed Killing Joke adaptation, which I maintain is very much worthwhile as long as you only watch the 45 minute faithful adaptation of the book and ignore all the crap surrounding it).

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories 3
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

How bad is Batman and Harley Quinn? Bad enough that the movie barely even ends, it just fizzles out once the writers reach 70 minutes and give up. There’s a token Swamp Thing cameo that’s deeply disappointing and then the entire story turns out to be set up for yet another Harley fart joke—and not even a good one. It’s sad to see Batman and Nightwing in their TAS form and voiced by the original actors reduced to token wise-crackin’ sidekicks to Harley. It’s as if everyone involved barely even wanted to make a Batman and Harley movie. They just took the assignment because an animated movie had to be made and Harley has hit a level of popularity that made the studio insist she lead. It wouldn’t surprise me if the script was written the night before production started and loathed by everyone involved. Sure the animation is gorgeous and recaptures the original design, but to what purpose? A YouTube fan fiction Batman: TAS revival would have been executed with more respect and creativity. The fact that Bruce Timm steered this ship is just sad. The movie may have been made for fans of Batman: The Animated Series, but they are the last people who should actually watch it. They don’t need this pain. Trust me. I experienced it and it’s almost too much to bear.

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories 6
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The Blu-ray does look good though, as if that matters. The animation is gorgeous in that slanted and deceptively simple Batman: TAS way. The action scenes might be gratuitously long, but are beautifully executed by longtime DC animation veteran Sam Liu. Too bad the script didn’t deserve all the effort. There are also a handful of decent special features. There’s a nice 20-minute documentary about Harley Quinn featuring creators Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and (oddly) a clinical psychologist talking about the subtext to Harley’s childish voice and abusive relationship with Joker. More than anything else, the doc proves just how crucial Dini was to creating Harley Quinn and how much she’s missed. Amusingly, Timm seems baffled by Harley’s popular appeal, which explains a few things about this movie and the psychologist remains silent when discussing the character’s appeal to young women, which speaks volumes in a sad way.

Batman And Harley Quinn (Movie) Review - Don't Spoil Your Memories 4
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

There’s also a nice ten-minute doc about Lorn Lester and his long career voicing Robin/Nightwing. Weirdly Kevin Conroy pops up, but the doc doesn’t get into his relationship to Batman, which is even more important. It’s a pleasant diversion, yet more than anything else just made me long for a full doc about the Batman: The Animated Series that will hopefully arrive some day. Finally, there is also a pair of Harley-centric episodes of the old series to remind fans how far off the mark this movie is as well as a preview of the upcoming Gotham by Gaslight adaptation. It looks gorgeous and the filmmakers say all the right things. Yet given the gross depths of Batman and Harley Quinn bro humour and grimdark posturing, I worry about how they’ll expand that classic Elseworlds tale. Especially given all the discussion of how dark the story is and the Jack the Ripper prostitute-murdering set pieces. They’d better not screw up that classic, even though it’s nice to hear that the team is interested in pursuing more Elseworlds tales for future animated DC features. It brings us all one step closer to the long rumoured Superman: Red Son flick. That could be something special and even if they screw it up, it should at least be better than Batman and Harley Quinn, which just might be the worst project that this team has made to date. Make sure to avoid it, especially if you love Batman: The Animated Series. Don’t spoil your memories of that beloved program on this gross and lazy cash in.

How Justice League Will Revolutionize Aquaman

How Justice League Will Revolutionize Aquaman

While Warner Bros. and  DC’s Justice League is not hitting theatres until mid-November, one clear stand-out from the movie’s trailers has come from an unlikely source. One would think Batman, the Dark Knight himself, would emerge as the front-runner that everyone is clamouring to see.

But he hasn’t.

Or Wonder Woman; the Amazonian Princess, whose self-titled debut film has been the runaway hit of the summer.

But it’s not her either.

The Flash? It has to be the Flash. The hit CW television show (albeit with a different actor playing Barry Allen) would surely be enough to garner most of the attention.

Nope.

The superhero everyone is apparently dying to see is the King of the Seven Seas himself: Aquaman. Strange when one considers that in the history of all the Justice League’s champions, he’s one of the most maligned, most made-fun-of, and laughable.

But not for long.

How Justice League Will Revolutionize Aquaman 4
Aquaman and Justice League image via imdb.com

Zack Snyder, another individual much maligned by film critics and a sect of comic book movie fans, set this new Aquaman revolution into play when he decided upon an odd casting choice for the Marine Marvel in Justice League. Jason Momoa, the muscle-bound behemoth from HBO’s Game of Thrones, will be playing Arthur Curry aka Aquaman. When you look at Momoa, with his towering figure and long dark hair and beard, you never think Aquaman. The Aquaman DC fans are accustomed to is a clean cut, golden-haired Atlantean. Chiselled yes—but not a beast.

Momoa is truly a monster and is set to change the pop culture dialogue surrounding Aquaman forever.

How Justice League Will Revolutionize Aquaman 6
Aquaman as seen in the Super Friends TV series (1973)

Aquaman first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941. Slowly, but Aquaman gained enough momentum to be given his own self-titled comic series early in 1962. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Aquaman became a household name—for North American children anyway. ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends was essentially the Justice League of America with a few bizarre sidekicks; and a full, card-carrying member of the JLA was Aquaman. From the cartoon, the Dweller of the Depths became well known for his recognizable orange top, dark green leotards and the famous echo sound he used to talk with sea creatures. While the blonde haired, blue-eyed Adonis of the Deep was likeable enough, he still was a second-tier superhero, placed well behind Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.

However, Aquaman took a serious turn with the cartoon series Justice League in 2001. While not an everyday player, the Aquatic Ace showed up every once and a while, and he was far different than his representation in Super Friends. This Aquaman was brooding and angry—a far cry from his previous animated life hanging out with the Wonder Twins.

How Justice League Will Revolutionize Aquaman
Aquaman as seen in DC Comics’ The New 52 (images via DC Comics)

Aquaman took another major shift when Geoff Johns began writing him in DC’s The New 52 in 2011. In the rebooted series, Johns made Arthur Curry a tortured man, twisted internally between his two loves: his duty to Atlantis and his connection to surface dwellers. Aquaman, being born of an Atlantean and human, is of mixed race. It’s the classic story of a character that essentially feels he has no home and doesn’t feel like he belongs to either of his peoples.

The Aquaman in the Justice League movie we will see in a few short months appears to be bringing a whole new level of character revolution.

While the only evidence fans have thus far is a few images and a handful of movie trailers, it is clear that Aquaman has changed for the better. We are now potentially entering the era of Aquaman, dare I say, becoming cool. A year ago, that would have been a laughable statement, but this year’s San Diego Comic Con Justice League trailers have proved otherwise. Whether it’s Aquaman riding on the top of the Batmobile ready to leap and attack a pair of Parademons or surfing a Parademon through a five story building, then tossing his hair to the side like he’d just crushed a huge wave, Justice League could very well be Aquaman’s coming out party.

How Justice League Will Revolutionize Aquaman 2
Jason Mamoma as Aquaman in Justice League (2017) (image via imdb.com)

This Aquaman acts and looks more like a guy who just came from carving some heavy waves or playing lead guitar in a metal band. And speaking of guitars, when Momoa was introduced at this year’s San Diego Comic Con for a little Aquaman talk and teaser (all before the Justice League panel), he used his trident as his air-guitar, all done to blaring rock music.

Now that’s an Aquaman we can all get behind.

This Water Wraith is set to be the breakout star of Justice League, and with his solo movie, Aquaman, shooting right now and set for a December 2018 release, there may be no limits for the heights he can reach. James Wan, the director of horror films like Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious, will be manning the steering the Aquaman ship, and bringing in someone like Wan will only further the new revolutionary mythos of Aquaman—a character once maligned, and now on the precipice of being Warner Bros. and DC’s newest break-through commodity.

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth (Comic) Review

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth (Comic) Review

Mister Freeze. Poison Ivy. Mad Hatter—three of Batman’s villains who hold a particular place in the Caped Crusader’s Rogues Gallery. Now, these criminals are not the Dark Knight’s top tier of villains in the rare air held by the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman or the Riddler. However, they are baddies that have entertained readers for decades. In All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth, writer Scott Snyder offers a story that showcases these terrific villains.

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth begins in Alaska, some 300 miles from the Arctic Circle. There, Batman boots his way into Mister Freeze’s refinery. Batman has uncovered ancient bacteria that Freeze wishes to unleash on the world. Doing so will be a disaster beyond imagination. While the Caped Crusader punches his way through Freeze’s ruby-eyed minions, he can’t stop this horrible plan. Batman must travel across America and pull out all the stops to end this threat. This desperate travel takes him into combat with Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter and a certain A-list villain who is the mastermind behind the whole catastrophic event—but you’ll have to read the mini-series to find out.

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth (Comic) Review

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth is a four-issue story arc (#6-9). Writer Scott Snyder again does a terrific job bringing his immense dialogue and explanations to a well-crafted story. Ends of the Earth is both entertaining and thought provoking—as is most of Snyder’s work. One of the best parts of Ends of the Earth is that the mini-series offers four different tales. While they all converge into one story by the end, each tale has a specific tone, feel, and villain. Perhaps the most fun and bizarre tale comes in issue #8 starring the Caped Crusader and the Mad Matter. Batman must fight off serious mind control from Mad Matter; some pretty potent stuff that takes him on a hallucinating wild ride underneath his cowl.

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth (Comic) Review 1

All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth is illustrated by Jock, Tula Lotay, and Giuseppi Camuncoli. Generally, this reviewer enjoys one artist’s work running through all issues in a series. Yet, with each story being mostly self-contained, it works to the benefit of the tale to have a distinct look to each issue. And bookending the first and last issue with Jock’s artwork is a nice touch. The artists bring a different tone to the story’s they are telling and all do a solid job.

There is an additional tale told in All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth, the conclusion to The Cursed Wheel written by Snyder and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla. The Cursed Wheel involves Batman, Duke, and the Riddler. Each tale is a short and mostly entertaining vignette, giving readers an extra story to work through. While the storyline has Batman in it, it’s essentially Duke’s arc. Which is decent, but never holds a candle to the main event: Ends of the Earth.

In short, All Star Batman: Ends of the Earth is worth reading, especially if you are a fan of Scott Snyder.

Superman Reborn (Comic) Review

Superman Reborn (Comic) Review

Mr. Mxyzptlk is one of those odd Superman bad guys who has not only lasted since his first appearance way back in 1944, but has also squirreled away a small amount of real estate within the hearts of many comic book fans. This beloved response likely comes from his stint in animation, especially when he showed up in the 1970’s Super Friends. Almost as odd as his yellow and purple outfit is the fact that his name has been pronounced differently throughout his villainous career. This 5th dimension imp is super powerful, and is constantly giving Superman fits. Things are no different for Superman in the mini-series Superman Reborn.

Superman Reborn is a four issue series that bounces back and forth between Superman #18-19 and Superman Action Comics #975-976. The story begins in Hamilton County, at the quiet home of Clark, Lois, and their son Jon. However, this idyllic scenario takes a turn for the worse when the ‘other’ Clark Kent comes snooping around. When Superman, Lois, and Jon go searching for the ‘other’ Clark, things begin to change. Jon slowly starts to disappear. As Superman tries to save his son, Jon completely disappears not only from their home, but from their photo albums. It’s as if he never existed. As Superman and Lois delve deeper into finding their son, they are transported to a wild world full of candy canes, unicorns, gumballs, and one irritated imp known as Mr. Mxyzptlk. He holds the key to Superman and Lois getting their son back. Unfortunately for the Man of Steel, he’ll have to jump through all Mr. Mxyzptlk’s hoops if he ever wants to see Jon again.

Superman Reborn is a joyous romp. Writers Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Dan Jurgens do a superb job bringing back one of Superman’s most peculiar yet enjoyable villains. The world the writers have created for Mxyzptlk is an incredibly creative tour de force. It exposes readers to a unique, bizarre, and fun dimension, something completely different than Superman’s world. It was a refreshing mini-series, giving a different villainous plot for Superman to navigate through. Lately, it’s been the Last Son of Krypton taking on Doomsday, the Eradicator, and Lex Luthor. It’s good to see Tomasi, Gleason, and Jurgens bringing back one of Superman’s favoured, if not highly used, supervillains.

Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason tackle the illustrations in Superman Reborn. The two excel at bringing to life the world of Mr. Mxyzptlk. They also create an imp who is at times humorous but at other times downright frightening. Mahnke crafts one terrific sequence where Superman goes splash page by splash page through his own rogues gallery—Lex, Bizarro, Brainiac, Mongul, Parasite, Cyborg Superman, and Doomsday. That is until he meets the real culprit of this son’s abduction: Mr. Mxyzptlk.

One of the central themes of Superman Reborn is the idea that Superman is as tied to his villains as he is to his own family. This may not be a connection he wants, but Mxyzptlk’s main act of vengeance against the Man of Steel is because of their connection, or lack thereof. As villains like the Joker and Bane exist because of Batman, so too do Superman’s villains.

The other theme emerging from Superman Reborn is a significant act between the past and present—The New 52 and Rebirth. While writing anything more would give away too many spoilers, let’s just say Superman will have to connect with someone he never would have believed from the past.

Wonder Woman Review – The Movie We Deserve

Wonder Woman Review - The Movie We Deserve

It’s been a long, long journey for Wonder Woman to finally make it to the big screen.

Read moreWonder Woman Review – The Movie We Deserve

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Blu-ray Review

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Blu-ray Review

Well, it’s been a few months, so it’s time for another DC animated feature.

Read moreTeen Titans: The Judas Contract Blu-ray Review

DCU Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Blu-ray Giveaway

DCU Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Blu-ray Giveaway

CGM is giving away more movies!

CGM has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to give away some of the best movies in recent history.

This month we are giving away DCU Teen Titans: The Judas Contract!

Auto Draft 40The Titans are on the hunt for the villainous Brother Blood, not realizing that they might have a traitor among them.

Own it now on Digital HD. Own the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack 4/18

TEEN TITANS and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics. © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

DCU Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Blu-ray Giveaway
cript>

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Movie) Review

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Movie) Review

Alright nerds, it’s finally here: the movie that you’ve been doubting with dread for three years (or that you’ve been quietly excited about, but won’t admit to it in mixed company). Batman V. Superman. The one where the Superfriends become Rock Em Sock Em robots. Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder’s attempt to jumpstart an entire DC cinematic universe. A dark, brooding, super serious counterpart to all that fun going on over at Marvel/Disney. You’ve whined, you’ve pined, you’ve dreamed, you’ve had anxiety attacks. But all that’s over now. The movie is here. You can finally feast upon this 2.5 hour epic of superhero depression. And the verdict? It’s fine. Could be worse. Not a disaster and certainly not a great or even particularly good movie. It’s a mess in all the ways the internet predicted it would be before shooting even began. However, Zack Snyder’s greatest strength is creating massive comic book panels come to life. So whenever icons are punching each other on an IMAX scale, there is some fun to be had. There’s a whole lotta sloppiness leading up to and during those big old brawls, but there’s no denying that seeing old Batty and the Boy Scout duke it out with a $250 million budget has its charms. Whoever thought that would happen? Even in a disappointing movie.

Read moreBatman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Movie) Review

Man of Steel (Movie) Review

Man of Steel (Movie) Review

Like The Beatles, breathing, and sugary soda, everyone has a soft spot for Superman. After all, the guy was the first superhero to grace comics and the big screen.

Read moreMan of Steel (Movie) Review