Batman and Harley Quinn Blu-ray Review
48 Hours with Harley
Celebrating 25 years of Batman: The Animated Series, creator Bruce Timm delivers a fun, throwback exploit which blends modern action with 60s series camp comedy.With Poison Ivy and The Floronic Man teaming up to ecologically reformat the planet, Batman and once-Robin, Nightwing, need help from the least likely place - the Joker's ex-muse, a now-retired Harley Quinn. Recruiting her proves to be... eventful, and the unlikely trio get into a fair amount of trouble as they rollercoaster towards a face-off with the eco-villains. Following suit after The Return of Batman and Robin, Timm's return to his Batman: The Animated Series characters carries more than its fair share of camp comedy, perhaps more so than fans would have ever encountered before. Timm co-created the character of Harley Quinn in that very series, and he puts her front and centre here, although his weaving of a suitable story for her is thin to say the least, instead relying upon just a series of manic vignettes and a 48s Hours-style pairing.Comedy is decidedly adult, perhaps appealing to those who had grown up on TAS and are older now, but it often leaves this not really for kids; with some brutal fights, heavy innuendo, focus on Quinn bending over repeatedly, and even an odd sex scene with her tying up Nightwing (initially) against his wishes. It's all very light in a post-Killing Joke DC universe, as if Timm wants to steer away from some of the missteps they took with that, but the lack of substantial direction does leave it unsatisfying. Voice choices are questionable - bringing Conroy back (the definitive Batman voice actor) but not Quinn's Arleen Sorkin, and instead substituting the arguably aptly grating Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory - but far from a deal-breaker, and whilst it's not a memorable Dark Knight Returns, or Flashpoint Paradox for the DC Animated Universe, it's still a fun addition.
Picture QualityA solid presentation in-line with the rest of the DC Animated Universe
Warner's UK Region Free Blu-ray release of Batman and Harley Quinn delivers a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen, which follows suit with the rest of the DC Animated Universe outings, only this time more in the style of the old Batman: The Animated Series episodes. Line detail is strong and well-defined, and layering is impressive, with the finer nuances bringing the backgrounds to life. The colour scheme follows the style of the series, bathed in more sombre tones and shadows, with strong black levels - banding notwithstanding - and a few more vibrant colours on offer, particularly in the 'superhero' restaurant and bar. It's a solid presentation that's in-line with the rest of the DC Animated Universe.
Sound QualityNot exactly demo material, but a solid presentation nonetheless
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a funky, engaging mix, which kick-starts with a number that would be more suited to the 60s series, and a credit sequence reminiscent of the old Blake Edwards Pink Panther animated titles, setting the tone for the more camp outing you're in store for. Dialogue remains well-prioritised, firmly placed across the frontal array. Effects take in the more violent action sequences (the Nightwing vs. Harley scene is brutal) as well as the bustling bars, screeching cars and plants that come to life, disseminating the effects across the array with a reasonable amount of precision, and, between that and the score, there's plenty going on, creating a decent environment for the piece. It's not exactly demo material, but it's a solid presentation nonetheless.
ExtrasThe usual selection of extras ticks all the bases - a couple of related episodes of The Animated Series (Harley And Ivy and Harley's Holiday); a couple of Featurettes, one on Harley's creation, and one on Loren Lester's vocal contribtion (Nightwing); and a whole slew of Previews, including one for the upcoming Gotham by Gaslight (one of the best Elseworlds stories).
Blu-ray VerdictMore than its fair share of camp comedy
For many, Batman and Harley Quinn (which, really, didn't need the Dark Knight at all, and could have simply been Harley Quinn and Nightwing) is a slight offering, a little fluffy and flimsy, with an insubstantial story which would have made for a solid episode of the old Animated Series, but feels stretched too far to make for an eighty minute movie. Still, the comedy will get most viewers by, with the Harley-centric shenanigans ripe with sexual innuendo, and farcical antics. It's distinctly adult in tone, but in a fun way, at the opposite end of the spectrum to The Killing Joke.
The Blu-ray release provides good video and audio, and the usual selection of extras, making for another solid addition to the DC Animated Universe worth investigating alone, or in the upcoming 30-title box set.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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