Entertaining, but definitely PG-13. Watch out for the end of the first act. Definitely make sure kids aren’t in the room.
In Batman and Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue (a.k.a. The Floronic Man) embark on an ecological quest to save the planet – and, unfortunately, eliminate most of humankind along the way. To save humanity, Batman and Nightwing are forced to enlist Harley Quinn to catch Poison Ivy, Harley’s BFF and frequent partner-in-crime. But Batman’s patience is put to the test by the unpredictable and untrustworthy Harley during the twists and turns the reluctant companions face during their bumpy road trip.
I cannot stress this enough, folks, that the DC Animated Movie Universe knows how to make a movie. They are generally well thought out, respectful to the comic material and pick the right actors to take over the roles. Anyway, as DC Animated has with countless other films before it, Batman and Harley Quinn is a fun ride, though weak in some areas, that brings action, drama, suspense and a dose of toilet humor. Director Sam Liu (Batman Year One, The Killing Joke) did a good job of bringing out some nice development in this film’s characters, as well as some serious moments of contemplation that makes them more human than they are in the comics. Mix that with a good story and you have yourself an entertaining movie that is more than just another animated film.
Let’s get this thing started, shall we?
The first act begins by establishing the tone of the film, as well as what is at stake. The starts with Poison Ivy and The Floronic Man looking for material that would allow them to start their ‘end of humanity’ run, where nature/trees/whateves would flourish and rule the earth. After killing and injuring some guards, and making a nice getaway, the duo brings out Batman and Nightwing from the woodwork to try and unravel their fiendish plot. The two investigators find out that they’re up against more than they thought and the best person to recruit to help potentially stop Poison Ivy and Floronic Man, specifically Poison Ivy, is Harley Quinn since she had a history with one of them. The first act ends with Nightwing finding and recruiting Harley Quinn, who is working at a skimpy super hero themed restaurant. The last scene of act one is definitely one for the ages in the DC Animated Movie Universe, as Harley Quinn and Nightwing get it on. It’s awkward, but it works for both characters.
Act one is a gem and it does what any good animated film does well, which is it quickly develops the situation at stake and then presents the possible solution to end the first act. The first act does a great job of establishing tone and what type of humor/drama that the film has in store for us the rest of the way. Nothing is better in the first act than the interaction/fight/intimate interaction between Nightwing and Harley. You get a real sense of struggle with Quinn’s character when she is being interrogated by Nightwing. Internally, she really wants to move beyond her old self, but Nightwing keeps prodding at her and eventually gets her to become the old Harley Quinn, though the results of that prodding aren’t realized until Nightwing ends up tied up to Harley’s bed. Yeah, you read that right. Anyway, it is a balance of damaged humanity with Quinn and sadistic pleasure from her former self, as well as some real meanness from our perceived super hero.
The second act starts with Batman having to deal with the Nightwing/Quinn relationship and what that means for the rest of the film (which is much of nothing by the end). The movie also begins to shift into a bit wacky/zany/one-step-away-from-Scooby-Doo tone, especially when Harley takes Batman and company to a henchman karaoke bar. The scene ends with a lovely hardcore song sung by Quinn and spirals into the next plot point where Quinn and crew are back on the trail of Ivy and Floronic. Eventually, the trail left behind by the villains catches up with them and the end of the second act sets up a brutal fight involving all parties.
The second act is kind of loosey-goosey with the humor, as well as direction because it seems really off the straight and narrow story. The second act does certainly bring itself back together by the end with a heavy dose of serious drama, but the ‘off the rails’ story moment is obvious. Thankfully, the second act does a good job of setting up the confrontation between all parties in the third act.s The end sets up the final fight between everyone and brings a sort of finality to Quinn’s choice of going back to her old ways or staying vigilant to turn over a new leaf. It’s an amazing way to begin the third act and of course helps speed towards the film’s conclusion.
The last act of the movie is an emotional, yet humorous journey for everyone involved. You will get a pretty darn good fight between everyone and a fantastic, yet endearing fight between Harley and Poison Ivy. While I won’t give much away about the third act, because we don’t spoil things here at Digitalchumps, I will say the third act is by far the best. When you can end a movie on a strong third act, then you’re going to bring your audience back for more. It’s definitely a good way to end things.
If this wasn’t enough, the special features do add a bit more extra value to this movie. Here’s what you’re looking at:
– The Harley Effect
– Loren Lester: In His Own Voice
– Sneak Peek: Gotham by Gaslight
– Batman Animated Series Additional Cartoons: Harley and Ivy, Harley’s Holiday
The additional cartoons help with selling the special features, as does the sneak peek of Gotham by Gaslight (that was a cool graphic novel).