BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

A completely original adventure featuring Batman and Harley Quinn? In the aftermath of Harleen’s newfound post-Suicide Squad popularity? With fan favourite Nightwing thrown in for good measure? On paper, Batman and Harley Quinn sounds like a match made in heaven, so let’s see if it lives up to its fun promise.

@Carra23A completely original adventure featuring Batman and Harley Quinn? In the aftermath of Harleen’s newfound post-Suicide Squad popularity? With fan favourite Nightwing thrown in for good measure? On paper, Batman and Harley Quinn sounds like a match made in heaven, so let’s see if it lives up to its fun promise.

Plot-wise, Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lister) find themselves tasked with stopping the twisted plan of Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) and the Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson). With the future of mankind hanging in the balance, the long-time Dynamic Duo have no choice but to seek out the help of none other than Harleen Quinzel, aka the Joker’s main squeeze: Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch). It’s a largely paint-by-numbers story, and the main adventure itself is absolutely fine. It’s elsewhere that many may ultimately take issue with Batman and Harley Quinn, though. And boy, are there issues here.

First and foremost, when we first meet up with Harley we see her complaining about being viewed by some lowlife as a sexual object – only to then spend the entirety of the film being positioned as a sexual object by the minds behind Batman and Harley Quinn. From close-ups of her derriere, to her stripping to her underwear, to her actually shaking her breasts at one point, it’s easy to see why many fans would be in uproar at how sexualised Quinn has become here. In addition, there’s actually a scene based around Harley farting up a storm that causes the Batmobile to pull over, and then the ending will have plenty of viewers slapping their head in frustration as they mouth obscenities at the screen.

That’s not to say that Batman and Harley Quinn is a total dud, and the animation style and certain elements of its tone will conjure up fond memories of the much-loved Batman: The Animated Series – which in turn is helped by the returns of Conroy and Lister as the Caped Crusader and Nightwing. And while it may be a little off-putting initially to not hear the vocals of Arleen Sorkin or even Tara Strong as Harleen, Melissa Rauch does an impressive job as the Maid of Mischief. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of nods and winks to keep eagle-eyed DC fans busy, while the music used throughout the feature manages to hit the right beats brilliantly; with Harleen’s take on Blondie’s Hanging on the Telephone even having the Dark Knight himself tapping along.

Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn is a mixed bag that struggles to know what it wants to be, with fun, kid-friendly antics and some genuinely funny lines thrown together with some more suggestive adult content and the at-times horrifically sexualised take on Harley. Being perfectly honest, the movie is a rare misstep for Warner Brothers’ animated DC output, and it feels horribly misjudged at several points. Making this even more annoying is that there was such potential here, and even now there are elements of the film that are hugely appealing – the fluid animation style that harks back to Batman: The Animated Series, the excellent musical nods, the many DC references, Conroy and Lister making the best of what they’re given, and Rauch proving a strong choice as Harley Quinn – but it comes to down the fact that, regardless of how much you find yourself enjoying parts of Batman and Harley Quinn, it’s ultimately too much of a struggle to override the negatives.

By this stage of the game, Warner Bros. and director Sam Liu have earned our trust when it comes to this animated universe, so here’s hoping that lessons can be learned from Batman and Harley Quinn’s failings and this is simply a blip on the radar. And in case you need a little pick-me-up afterwards, the sneak peek at next year’s Gotham by Gaslight adaptation looks phenomenal, not to mention there’s two brilliant Harley-centric Batman: The Animated Series episodes included on this release to raise your spirits.

Special Features: Sneak peek at Batman: Gotham by Gaslight / Two featurettes / Two bonus episodes of Batman: The Animated Series / Trailers

BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: SAM LIU / SCREENPLAY: JAMES KRIEG, BRUCE TIMM / STARRING: KEVIN CONROY, MELISSA RAUCH, LOREN LESTER, PAGET BREWSTER, KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW



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