Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review


Now I can finally be caught up with the main DC films. They’ve been on a solid roll and it’s good to have DC finally reclaim the throne. That being said, it’s not nearly as good as Bad Blood or Justice League vs Titans. Those films did set quite a high bar though and this film is still pretty solid. The action scenes are on point and all of the characters get to show off their skills. Considering that fans had been waiting for this film for around a decade, it was nice for them to finally get a payoff.

The Teen Titans are finally a pretty close knit team. They’ve even got a new member named Terra who is useful for breaking into enemy bases. Nightwing does his best to get back into the swing of things since he left the team for a long time. It looks like he showed up just in time since the assassin Deathstroke has shown up once again and he has his sights set on the Titans. The Justice League aren’t available to help in this round so Nightwing has to put his training to good use and solve this issue on his own.

The film starts off with a decent action sequence as we learn about one of the Teen Titans first missions. At the very least, it was how they first met Starfire and ultimately she would become the leader. I have to say that the old roster may have been a little stronger since they had Kid Flash, but Starfire’s a pretty decent replacement. The actual Titans from that era were fairly unlikable as expected since the film really played up the whole Teens angle. That also ends up hurting the main cast to an extent as well.

The main plot with Deathstroke taking everyone down was a lot of fun though. I was wondering how they would incorporate Deathstroke into the film since he met an untimely demise a while back, but the reason was satisfactory and the most plausible one of the bunch. Fortunately for him, Deathstroke also got a lot stronger and became better at hand to hand combat. He looked so terrible in Son of Batman, but this was a great way to finally treat the character with respect. I’m definitely a Deathstroke fan and his portrayal here was spot on.

Naturally, Terra also gets a big role, but I can’t say that she was likable here at all. I’d actually say that her TV show version was probably better. This one’s subplot with Deathstroke was pretty unnecessary and her “Too tough for everyone” personality didn’t work well. If you want an example of a character who pulled it off, look no further than Damian! Damian’s role here was fairly small since he wasn’t in the comic and the writers didn’t want to upset the fans. Still, he looked good in his brief appearance as he put up a fight against Deathstroke and seemed to be the only member with common sense. I know the Titans are about acceptance and all, but letting in random people with no background checks is extremely risky. Damian’s hunch proved to be correct as it always is.

A minor subplot is how Starfire is worried that the other members treat Nightwing as more of a leader than her. It’s to be expected since he was the leader for a while, but he’s a nice guy and does his best not to usurp her authority. Starfire’s not a bad character and still a big step up from the TV show version. She could be better though. This also wasn’t Nightwing’s best appearance and all of the scenes with him and Starfire typically just slow the film down. He still does well in combat though.

Beast Boy’s still as annoying as ever. There’s no way Terra should fall for him just because he is constantly pestering her. He was basically asking to be betrayed the whole time and it’ll probably be tough for me to ever be a big fan of his. Blue Beetle’s scarab continues to act up and it’ll be fun to see if a film tackles that plot at some point. His subplot was pretty boring though and definitely didn’t need to be in the film. It’s nice of him to help out, but did it have to immediately have to also become a romance subplot? What happened to just having nice co-workers?

Raven gets the smallest role here, but she already had her own film so that makes sense. Unfortunately, she is heavily nerfed as a result. Honestly, the power levels are pretty bad all around here which is a shame since the previous film did pretty good with them. Raven losing to Terra is one of those “I can’t believe that happened” moments and the Titans just ganging up on Brother Blood at the end was also pretty iffy. His powers seemed to magically vanish and suddenly he was getting wrecked by everyone. The only main fight that I was really okay with was Deathstroke taking on Damian and Nightwing since a super soldier serum can definitely make that plausible. Every bit of strength and speed helps a lot in a fight like that.

The animation is definitely sharp as expected. All of the fights are pretty sharp and the character designs on point. DC’s never disappointed in this area though so it’s hardly a surprise at all. Unfortunately, the soundtrack didn’t return from Justice League vs Teen Titans. That one had some really good tunes, but this one went for a more generic ensemble. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t remember a single tune, you’d think that it was a silent film.

Ultimately what holds this one back from being as good as the others is the writing. It’s a little more sub par this time around as it’s a TEEN Titans film as opposed to being a Teen Titans film. There’s a lot of romance and drama everywhere with some rather iffy lines being thrown around. We did get our fair share of superhero action as well, but these elements definitely weakened the film just enough. It also doesn’t help that I’m not a Brother Blood fan and he’s as boring as ever. At least he got a power up so he could actually fight here. Still, you can easily forget that HIVE is in the film and it wouldn’t really change much.

Overall, The Judas Contract is a good film. It’s not as sharply written as the last few films and Raven was nerfed way too hard, but it’s still enjoyable to watch. The film breezes by since it’s so short and that allows then pacing to always be pretty quick. Damian’s a highlight as always and Deathstroke has fully reclaimed his glory. I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2017 can bring for DC animation. I want to see a Justice League movie now that DC is bringing its A game back. A Trinity War adaption could be a lot of fun or we could even skip to the Darkseid War at this point. Wherever we go, it should be hype!

Overall 6/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

The New Teen Titans The Judas Contract Review

New_Teen_Titans_Judas_Contract_TP
I haven’t read a Teen Titans comic in a long while so it was fun to check out this collection. The library has two other graphic novels from The New Teen Titans run so maybe I’ll check those out at some point. I wouldn’t count on it being too soon though and can any of them beat the iconic Judas Contract? It’s a fun story-line and it is cool that the TV show loosely adapted it.

The graphic novel essentially picks up with a Brother Blood plot. He’s one of my least favorite Teen Titan villains so this was unfortunate, but at least we’re getting that part over with quickly. Brother Blood has a large cult, which kidnaps and brainwashes people. He has already tricked the media so the Teen Titans decide to go after him. It will prove to be difficult since political clout can go far. With their new teammate, Tara, The Teen Titans are ready for anything!

This arc wasn’t too important as it was really just setting up future events. For starters, Terra started to show the viewers her true colors through her conversations with Deathstroke. This was sowing the seeds for the Judas Contract arc and the team began to trust her a lot. The Brother Blood group also gains more power as a result of Blood being defeated as the world feels bad for the group now. Kid Flash also decided to leave the team, which was regrettable and Robin decided that his costume was not appropriate for his new role as the leader of the Teen Titans. He was Robin no more!

The Judas Contract started off with a bang as Terra and Deathstroke began to take out the Titans one by one. It was rather easy, which is a little embarrassing and Robin is the only guy to escape. He is joined up by Deathstroke’s wife and son as they tell Robin of Terra’s betrayal. Robin also formally turns into Nightwing in time for the big battle. Can the Titans really defeat Deathstroke and Terra? H.I.V.E. hopes so since a lot of money is riding on this deal.

This was the big Titans arc and it was definitely a fun adventure. I suppose that the reason why it is so big is that Terra never turned good. She ended up being evil from start to finish and that was likely quite the twist at the time. The introduction by the writer was fun as he mentioned how seriously people took this fact as well as the rivalry between DC and Marvel. I’m sure that quite a few people were enraged about what had happened. It was certainly a very bold move.

Robin is a solid lead for the group and I’m glad that he switched to the Nightwing persona quickly. Having him just act as Dick Grayson wasn’t quite as thrilling as when he was in costume. He looks very bad in the fight against Deathstroke, but he had just finished being Robin so I suppose that he wasn’t much of a fighter by this point. At least, now compared to guys like Batman and Deathstroke. Wonder Girl gets one of the smallest roles from the Titan members although she temporarily becomes the leader while Robin is finding his identity. She seems to only have a mild degree of super strength here as she is strong enough to take down Deathstroke, but Starfire seems to have the edge otherwise. Wonder Girl is definitely one of the nicest members on the team.

Cyborg was definitely a lot different from his New 52 self here and it’s in a good way. He isn’t afraid to break out the occasional pun and he’s a good fighter. Cyborg wants to show that he is more than just a machine and proves it by going past his limits. He’s a charismatic fighter and makes a reference to the Captain Carrot (I think that’s the name) comics that I plan to check out at some point. He gets a thumbs up for that alone. Starfire is much less naive than her TV show counterpart and a large part of her character is that she was raised by gladiators. Her hand to hand skills are even better than those of Wonder Girl. Add in Starfire’s energy blasts and she is easily the strongest member of the team. Unfortunately, her costume or lack thereof is addressed within the comic through a poorly veiled attempt at getting more readers on board through one of the covers. For the most part, the costume is just around and the comic doesn’t put any emphasis on it, but a better costume would certainly be ideal. Also, as much as the Titans remind Terra that they never destroy people, Starfire threatens to destroy Deathstroke several times. Since she is a warrior Starfire wouldn’t hesitate to do such a thing…it’s something that the Titans should keep in mind.

Beast Boy is easily the worst member of the group and most of his appearances are just there to remind us what a bad character he is. He turns into a mouse just to be able to look at Starfire from that viewpoint and it reminds you what a petty individual he is. He may not be great in the TV show, but he’s worlds better than how he was in the comics. He went from being a rather uninspired character to a terrible one and I like to think that he’s better in the New 52. We finally have a winner over there! Raven also looks terrible, but in a different way. I have no qualms with her personality, but she looks terribly weak. Raven is constantly going on about how she can sense evil, but since she can’t tell when a villain is right in front of her, it’s basically pointless. Her dark magic was overcome by Brother Blood and Terra defeated her twice. Once with a casual back fist and another time with a flying rock. Seriously, Raven was laughably weak and I could see Robin easily overpowering her.

I didn’t care for Jericho. He just seemed to be a little too full of himself and sucker punching Robin was definitely not cool. No, Jericho just couldn’t become a good character for me. Deathstroke’s wife was certainly a lot more interesting and she looked good in the origin story. Deathstroke’s origin story is definitely tragic. The army looked bad when they refused to let a super soldier stay in the ranks. Deathstroke then became a gun for hire, which is where he stepped into the side of darkness. Deathstroke is a very fun villain and with his narration it can be easy to forget. He sounds like a good guy and you are just reminded that he is on the side of evil whenever he tries to destroy someone.

That being said, I did think that the wife overreacted when Deathstroke made the decision to save Jericho. At that point, his best option was to try to take them out before they hurt him. If the wife had not been there, the situation would have likely been much easier. Still, Jericho kept his life and Deathstroke defeated the villains. Jericho got injured, but nothing could have prevented that. Deathstroke could have surrendered and then the villains would probably just destroy them all. Never trust another villain and that’s why I didn’t find Deathstroke’s decision to be all that bad. As he said, it was a calculated risk.

Terra is certainly much more experienced with her powers here than she was in the show. From the start, she’s already strong enough to take down Deathstroke and most of the Titans with ease. She can control parts of the Earth that are miles away from her present vicinity and her powers continued to grow. She’s a villain from start to finish although her act quickly convinces the Titans. (Which is sad, since she left quite a few clues.) As a villain, she’s decently likable, but I didn’t care for her cover as a hero. She went too overboard to pretend that she was one of them. Terra’s tough, but the Titans should still be able to take her on and it’s a little embarrassing for the team that they actually fell for her act.

There’s a lot of action in this graphic novel and the Deathstroke vs Robin match was probably the best fight even though Robin was completely outmatched. The sparring session between Starfire and Wonder Girl was also quite good. I also enjoyed most of the subplots like Robin helping a few senators get their reputations back. There was no point during the comic that I felt bored with the title. I dislike Brother Blood and his subplot wasn’t that good, but it would only be around for a few pages at a time and things would get good again once the Titans were back. They’re definitely a group that is easy to root for.

The art looks good and it’s in the classic DC style that is too old to be new, but too modern to be retro. This style works well for me and most of the character designs resemble the modern (Pre 52) ones that I am used too. I still can’t take Nightwing’s original design seriously after watching the Batman series, but I suppose that it may have worked well for its time….maybe. Deathstroke is one of those characters who looks essentially the same no matter what continuity he is in. You just can’t change the guy.

Overall, This was a fun comic. You’ll be reading through the comics quickly as they are all short and interesting. At times, the characters can go a little overboard in how annoying they can be and Terra/Beast Boy are the main perpetrators here. I don’t think that the writer really knew what to do with Raven either as she just looks really bad the whole time. I would have liked to have seen a full Robin vs Deathstroke fight, but I suppose that their brief skirmish does tell us all that we need to know about who would win the battle. I definitely recommend checking this out if you’re looking for a fun action comic to read. It is fairly similar to the X-Men comics at the time and the team dynamic does work whenever Beast Boy and Terra aren’t trying to wreck it. What would be perfect would be for Beast Boy to be dropped from the team and for Kid Flash to return. The Teen Titans would really be ready for action! (Also, I gotta say that there is no way that Beast Boy should have a 6 pack. He does not train at all so I seriously think that this is another one of those cases where the artist tried to make the characters look a little too tough. It’s fitting for everyone except Beast Boy) Also, be on the lookout for Batman’s guest star appearance!

Overall 7/10