Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract 2017
It actually feels like a fairly light year for DC animated movies when compared to last year when there were quite a few movies from various different DC properties while this is only the fourth animated movie counting the theatrical Lego Batman movie and the latest DC Superhero Girls movie. Even so, I feel like I’ve fallen behind on these as this came out a couple months ago and I’m only just now getting around to watching and reviewing it. I did quite enjoy Teen Titans vs the Justice League and this movie does feel like a step up from that one. This also seems to do a good job of including more social relationships within the story instead of just focusing on the plot and action which helps differentiate itself from other superhero stories to a certain extent. There were a few too many attempts at maturing the story by including sex jokes, but overall this was an enjoyable continuation of the animated Teen Titans storyline. And as usual with all my reviews and especially recent releases, I will be discussing the movie in full including any potential plot spoilers.
This film follows the events of the previous Teen Titans movie even though it also starts with a cold open flashback that shows Starfire’s initial introduction to the team when Dick Grayson as Robin was the leader and they had a couple different members. Once it comes back to the present, the team is pretty much the same as in the previous movie with Nightwing as a somewhat senior member of the team while Starfire is the official leader and the newest member is Terra voiced by Christina Ricci who can control the Earth around her. Even though she’s been with the team for a year, she hasn’t quite fully found her place in the group. Which makes sense when it’s revealed that she’s essentially been in deep cover working for Slade Wilson.
On the other side of things, there’s also this weird cult lead by Brother Blood who seems to have a good PR department but is also into mad science. But for the most part, the actual villainy was less interesting than the social dynamic of the team which was given roughly equal focus if not actually more. For every scene involving the Titans fighting some villain or another, there’s a scene showing what happens in between their battles and it’s handled in a much better way than the pop-rock scored carnival scene in the previous movie. There are still some issues with the way they try to handle the adult relationship between Dick Grayson and Starfire as they tend to just make a sex joke involving Starfire’s social ignorance. But the relationships built between Terra and the other Titans work quite well. Especially how Beast Boy is relatively well transitioned into a modern teen interested in not-Twitter, not-Instagram, and Kevin Smith’s podcasts.
When it comes to the actual plot side of things, Brother Blood is a fairly uninteresting villain with a weird plot to steal the powers of the Titans to turn himself into an ultimate mutant. He speaks as a megalomaniacal cult leader with grand claims and fanatical devotees that he’s ultimately just looking to exploit. But when he does get the powers, the Titans don’t exactly lose their powers and it’s not entirely clear how they figure out how to transfer the powers. There is a bit of explanation that the cult has been studying the Titans across their various encounters, but there’s no indication that they’ve actually confirmed that their theories are correct. On the Slade Wilson front, his uncomfortable relationship with Terra works in a weird sort of way even though his reason for being there is a little too comic book-y considering that he supposedly died a few films ago. The film just tosses aside a quick Lazarus pit reference and moves along pretty quickly.
There’s not much else to say about this film. The action scenes in general work well enough, showcasing the various powers of the team without making them feel too overpowered for what they’re up against. One quick note is that the sound design for Terra’s earth powers are excellent, it both sounds like something very earth-y, but it also sounds different from nearly everything else like it. The humor overall was a little hit and miss, especially with the sex jokes, but the movie did a good job of making the Titans feel like characters with lives outside of their superhero day jobs without falling into the complete non-action comedic absurdity of Teen Titans Go. Terra overall felt like a fully realized character with a traumatic back story that helps explain her connection to Slade and her initial disconnection with the team until they finally win her over. Her self-sacrifice at the end could have also been handled a little bit better, but considering the movie’s run time, it did what it needed to do. It’s difficult for me to place this in the overall scheme of the DC Animated Universe, but at the very least I thought it was a step above last year’s Teen Titans vs the Justice League. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.