Batman and Harley Quinn

  • Title: Batman and Harley Quinn
  • Director: Sam Liu
  • Date:  2017
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre:  Animation, Action, Comedy, Fantasy
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Melissa Rauch, Paget Brewster, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, Rob Paulsen
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  Blu-Ray

“Nuh-uh, I’m done with capes and tights and masks.” – Harley Quinn

“I’m not saying I don’t want to, ’cause that could be nice. All sorts of wrong, but nice.” – Nightwing

“Like you’ve never made out with a super-villain.” – Nightwing, under his breath to Batman

I really enjoyed this animated movie, in part because it is very humorous. It’s funny and makes for a nice break from the more serious animated and live action Batman films. This also seems to be set in the Batman: The Animated Series universe bringing back Kevin Conroy as Batman, Loren Lester as Nightwing, and with Melissa Rauch doing a good version of Arleen Sorkin’s Harley (additionally she’s in her B: TAS costume).

The story opens with a break-in at Star Labs, Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man are attempting to steal some information. Ivy downloads a file about Dr. Alec Holland. Batman investigates later and discovers the theft of information. He sends Nightwing to find Harley Quinn, hoping she will lead them to Poison Ivy. Batman notes that Harley went off the grid after being released on parole and that it’s rumored she “went straight”. Meanwhile, Batman heads to ARGUS where he finds out that a scientist who’s an expert in bio-weapons has disappeared.

Nightwing finds Harley at “Super Babes” a Hooters-style restaurant with the waitresses in skimpy superheroine and female supervillain inspired uniforms. They serve superhero or villain inspired food as well. When a customer grabs Harley’s butt, she smacks him down, hard. When he complains that “the broad broke my frickin’ arm”, the manager points to a sign that says: “Look all you want but don’t touch”. Nightwing then follows Harley home. He tries to convince her to help, but Harley fights him and fights well. She finally knocks him out with “low-grade Joker venom”.

Nightwing wakes tied to Harley’s bed. When Nightwing wonders why she’s working at Superbabes, Harley points out she can’t get a job as a therapist or anything else because of her nefarious history. Harley puts the moves on Nightwing. Later the two are caught by Batman.

Batman explains in the Batmobile to Harley and Nightwing that Ivy and the Floronic Man are working together to turn all people to hybrid plant/animal people. He tells them about the kidnapped scientist. After a chase scene where Harley goes after Bobby Liebowitz who made her mother cry, where Batman stops Harley from beating him too badly, Harley returns to the Batmobile to help out. She has them take the expressway towards Blüdhaven. They arrive at the henchmen’s club. Harley talks to Shruby then tells Batman she has to do something. She then goes to the stage and belts out Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” to thunderous applause. During her number a Cat Man does the Batusi behind Batman’s back, Batman knocks him out with one distracted punch. Nightwing dances with one of the many women in the club. Harley drops the mic after her number. The room erupts in applause. Harley gets the information from Shruby and tells Batman and Nightwing. It looks like the henchmen won’t let them leave but in a shot from outside we see words briefly describing the fight, then Batman, Nightwing, and Harley in the Batmobile again.

The Batphone rings in the car, it’s Booster Gold who explains the heavy hitters are busy and most of the rest of the heroes are “at that Christening at Aquaman’s place” but Booster could send some truly C-list heroes. Batman and Nightwing tell him they’ll handle it and then fake the call dropping, which Booster notices.

Batman, Nightwing, and Harley make it to the place where Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man are holding the scientist hostage. Ivy is using her pheromones to control the scientist. There’s a fight, and then a fire breaks out. Nightwing and Batman barely survive the fire and find Harley with the scientist. He’s dying, and Harley is comforting him. He tells them that Ivy and the Floronic Man were heading to Louisiana because they need the exact water that created Swamp Thing for their plans.

The Floronic Man has Ivy eat a tuber that came from Swamp Thing – this connects them to The Green and they are able to travel to Louisiana via the Green. Meanwhile, Batman wants to leave Harley and only take Nightwing with him to Louisiana. Harley flips out but convinces them they need her. The three take the Batwing to Louisiana. There, they are joined by troops of some kind.

Harley does “betray” Batman, knocking him off a short tree bridge into the water. But she goes to Poison Ivy and tries to talk her out of her plan. Harley then releases Nightwing and Batman who have been tied up. Batman and Nightwing fight the Floronic Man while Harley fights Poison Ivy. This doesn’t go well. Finally, Harley goes to Ivy and tells her she’s going to use the “nuclear option”, she takes off her mask and makeup – and cries. Ivy is convinced. But the Floronic Man grabs the formula that Ivy has perfected. The Floronic Man and Poison Ivy fight each other. Floronic Man knocks out Ivy, but just as he’s about to release the formula – Swamp Thing arrives with quite a flourish. He simply threatens the Floronic Man telling him he’s endangering the balance of The Green, then he disappears. As Harley says, “That was a whole lot of nothing”.

Batman, Nightwing, Ivy, and several troops are still wondering what to do – when Harley asks for a match. The end credits include a scene of the Floronic Man with his bottom on fire.

I really enjoyed this movie. It’s lots of fun. There is a lot of visual humor – such as the scene at Super Babes and all the henchmen hanging out at the nightclub where Harley takes Batman and Nightwing. I also really liked how Harley is treated in this story. She is attempting to “go straight”. Because of her record, she can’t get a real job despite her psychiatrist training. Yet throughout the film, Harley is actually helping. We even see her treating the scientist with compassion when he’s dying. And when she does “betray” Batman it’s more because she wants to give her friend Ivy a chance to change her mind about her horrible plan, which could destroy all life on Earth if it went wrong. Harley’s performance at the club is also great. Yes, it’s “sexy” but she’s in complete control of her sexiness and clearly enjoying it. The movie also shows and has her talk about to Nightwing, how much she doesn’t enjoy being ogled, pinched, slapped, and goosed at Super Babes. Overall, it’s a fun film and I enjoyed it. Recommended.

Recommendation: See it, especially if you are a fan of lighter Batman.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Batman Subzero

  • Title: Batman Subzero (aka Batman & Mr. Freeze Subzero)
  • Director: Boyd Kirkland
  • Voice Director: Andrea Romano
  • Date: 1998
  • Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Action, Animation
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Loren Lester, Bob Hastings, Mary Kay Bergman
  • Format: Color Animation, Standard
  • DVD Formats: R1, NTSC
  • Length: 67 Minutes

As with many Batman movies, this animated film is more about the villain than about Batman. It’s also the only one of the many DC Animated Universe movies that I saw first on TV, prior to buying the DVD. In some ways, it’s more like a double-length or two-parter Batman: The Animated Series story than a movie (though a true 2-parter would only be about 44 minutes). The film opens with Freeze, outside his survival suit, swimming in the Antarctic with his two pet polar bears – he gathers some fish then returns to his cave, stopping to give the fish to a Native boy. Freeze then goes to give a flower to his beloved wife Nora, who is trapped in a cryogenic capsule that keeps her alive.

An accident occurs — a sub surfaces in the cave, causing an earthquake-like disturbance that destroys Nora’s cryo chamber. Freeze takes her to Gotham City, finds a doctor he had previously worked with who was a cryogenics expert and kidnaps him. They discover the only way to save Nora is an organ transplant, and because of her “rare blood type – AB-” kidnap Barbara Gordon, who is the only one in the donor database who shares that blood type.

Now, anyone with a high school knowledge of basic biology or who’s watched a few medical dramas can spot the major flaw in this plot. First — someone with AB- blood is a nearly universal RECEIVER – they can take any negative blood type (A, B, AB, or O). Only a positive RH factor can’t be used. And second, to be an organ donor – one needs to match a heck of a lot more than blood types, this is why organ matching is so difficult. If only blood matching mattered chances would be as low as 1 in 4 of finding a match, modified by regional variances in blood types. But I digress… Now, if you ignore that little plot hole…

Dick Greyson (Robin) and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) are on a date when Freeze and his two polar bears arrive and kidnap her. Dick tries to prevent it but is unable to; he gives chase, but eventually Freeze escapes. Batman and Robin investigate, and eventually figure out Barbara is being held on an abandoned oil drilling platform in the ocean. They take the Batwing to rescue her. Meanwhile, Barbara’s gotten herself free for the second time, but she gets trapped on an upper gangway when the doctor Freeze found (and hired to help him with the promise of lots of gold) fires at her with a gun, igniting the fuel tanks. As Batman and Robin arrive, Freeze does too. Barbara gets to the deck of the platform, and Freeze insists Batman rescue Nora. Barbara also points out the Native boy is also trapped below decks. Barbara and Batman rescue Nora and the boy, with some assistance from Freeze (he cools down the fires in their way with his Freeze gun), and bring the two to the Batwing. Then Batman goes back to rescue Freeze. Bruce is crushed when he fails and Freeze falls to his (supposed) death.

In the coda, after seeing the two polar bears and Freeze swimming away, we see Freeze in the Antarctic again, watching through the window of a research station. On TV, he sees Nora Fris (aka Mr. Freeze’s wife) is alive, thanks to an operation paid for by the Wayne Foundation. Freeze smiles.

Overall, a fairly good story. I liked that Freeze wasn’t portrayed as completely evil (although wanting to kill Barbara to save his wife was pretty heartless), just a man who completely loved his wife and couldn’t stand losing her. I also liked that in their final battle — Batman tries to save Freeze — though Freeze had injured Dick and kidnapped Barbara. Kevin Conroy is an excellent Batman/Bruce Wayne. Ansara does a great job as Freeze. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is great as Alfred as always. The voice cast of Batman: The Animated Series is excellent as always. Barbara Gordon, for some reason, was re-cast — Mary Kay Bergman sounds a bit young but manages to avoid giving Barbara a “Nancy Drew” feel.

By the way, in case your wondering – I found my copy at a grocery store for $5.00, it’s the last of the DC Animated movies I bought, even though it’s an early one.

Recommendation: For the series Batman collector only; worth a rental/Netflix.
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars