Monday 9 October 2017

Batman & Harley Quinn ★★★☆☆

The Batman animated series from the early nineties was one of the best things about being a comic book fan and under ten years old.  It is responsible for solidifying Kevin Conroy as the ‘actual’ Batman voice in my mind and introduced Harley Quinn into the Batman universe before the comics even had her.  As an homage to the original series, a new movie “Batman and Harley Quinn” has been released and feels almost exactly like an episode of the series that they simply forgot to air.  Except for a handful of things, such as boner jokes, fart jokes, and Harley Quinn stripping off to her near nothings before seducing Nightwing quite aggressively.

The film begins with Jason Woodrow aka Fleuronic man, along with Poison Ivy attempting to uncover information that will ultimately lead to them ‘saving the planet’ by turning every living thing on it into a plant person.  This particular brand of Vegan-extremism has a narrow margin of error landing between possibly killing everything or maybe just actually killing everything.  Batman hates this shit and pursues them around the world, trying to stop them. Unfortunately for Batman, and sexually fortuitously for Nightwing, the only real way to get through to Poison Ivy is to team up with Harley Quinn, a self-confessed Sociopath, currently working undercover in a Gotham maid-cafe-esque restaurant by the name of Superbabes.  Harley is trying to go straight and doesn’t want to get roped into any of Batman’s bullshit, but Nightwing gets her involved.

The film is good, with a lot of throwbacks to both the Adam West era Batman and the Animated Series. Kevin Conroy has been nailing the Batman voice for a long time now and manages to do it exactly as well as you would hope, but doesn’t ever really take centre stage, most of the plot been batted between Nightwing and Harley Quinn, who histrionically demands attention in great and terrible ways throughout.

Even though the film is good, it has a very real irritating component that I can’t move away from, which is its insistence on reminding you that it isn’t just a children’s tv show.  Every moment of ‘adult comedy’ seems crowbarred in with no grace whatsoever. Upskirt shots and Harley Quinn stripping off in front of Nightwing just so she can histrionically notice his erection leaves the film feeling like a teenagers opinion of what ‘adult movies’ are like. The story and film would not have suffered for a second if these elements were left out and I would go as far as to say it would have been better if they had cut them.

Overall the film isn’t unenjoyable, the dance between feeling exactly like an unaired animated series episode and weird crotch shots of the female characters, takes away from it, but if you like Batman and miss the old Saturday morning cartoons then you’ll be able to kill some time with this without being too angry.

David Roberts

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