Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Directed by Sam Liu
Screenplay by Ernie Altbacker
Based on The Judas Contract by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
Christina Ricci (Tara Markov / Terra), Stuart Allan (Damian Wayne / Robin), Taissa Farmiga (Raven), Brandon Soo Hoo (Garfield Logan / Beast Boy), Jake T. Austin (Jamie Reyes / Blue Beetle), Kari Wahlgreen (Koriand'r / Starfire), Sean Maher (Dick Grayson / Nightwing), Miguel Ferrer (Slade Wilson / Deathstroke), Gregg Henry (Sebastian Blood / Brother Blood), Jason Spisak (Wally West / Kid Flash), Masasa Moyo (Karen Beecher / Bumblebee), Crispin Freeman (Roy Harper / Speedy), Meg Foster (Mother Mayhem), and Kevin Smith as himself
Having never read the direct source material, I'm unfamiliar with any specific changes they've made for the better or the worse, so keep that in mind. However, I do know the general concept of Terra from the comics and knowing ahead of time how there was a potential for this to be rather dark, I strapped myself in for the ride.
Generally speaking, these animated films are fantastic. The voice acting leaves nothing to be desired and the animation somehow continues to improve despite it already being at the top of the game from the start. If you're a fan of one of the movies, you should be watching them all, as they don't disappoint when it comes to giving you a solid adaptation of how these characters come off in the comics and other avenues that you may or may not have already witnessed, like Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice or elsewhere.
This was one of my favorites and a big step up from Justice League Dark in both the overall story as well as how the characters were managed. Last time around, I felt like half of it was superfluous and the other half was just "meh" rather than great. For this movie, they pretty much checked off everything that I was hoping they would accomplish with just a few hiccups along the way.
Now that we got that out of the way, it's time for some specific thoughts that ran through my mind during the course of the film:
- I loved the flashback to the old incarnation of the team with Bumblebee, Beast Boy, Speedy, Kid Flash, Robin/Grayson being the leader and the introduction of Starfire.
- So if Beast Boy was a teenager five years ago, that means he pretty much had to be 13/14 at the time and now, he's 18/19. If that's the case, why is he still training like he's at the same level as everyone who is newer to the team? Dick and Kori are clearly in their early to mid-20s and Garfield should at least be the third ranked member of the team instead of coming off like a 15 year old, still. Strange.
- I wonder if this film and the previous one in this franchise were meant to gauge reactions for that return of the Young Justice series or perhaps a test run for a Teen Titans film. We know Nightwing and Batgirl are in the DCEU plans, along with Cyborg and The Flash being pretty young. Hm...
- "Robin, stop complimenting the bad guys." - LOL
- That musical sequence was way too jarring and on the nose. Too cheesy for my tastes.
- I really love Damian Wayne's character and I don't get the hate he gets. The snarky attitude is such a refreshing change of pace from the other Robins. For my money, Dick Grayson is the best and I love the jaded Red Hood vigilante version of Jason Todd, and it's Tim Drake who suffers from not having his own personality to stand out above the rest. I don't dislike Tim, but I can see why he's skipped over so often or why his intelligence is given to Dick just to condense things.
- There's really a lot of sexual content in here. I'm sure that will upset some people, although to me, this is fantastic, as it's a perfectly natural thing that is always glossed over. Teenagers and young adults would be have sex on their minds. Fist bump for Grayson.
- Speaking of which, the dynamic between Slade and Terra is creepy as hell. Perfect. We should be uncomfortable watching that. I'm also glad that they specified that they didn't actually have sex even though Terra clearly wants it. The reason why is because I like Deathstroke enough that I don't want to see his character tainted in my eyes (in this adaptation, at least) as being a pedophile. Then, I'd just want to see him die instead of having him come back in the future to kick ass.
- This Blue Beetle soup kitchen stuff is an unnecessary side plot to fill time. I could have done without that and instead, some more scenes with
- As much as I love Kevin Smith, I would have rather them not had any of that side plot, either.
- The frog version of Beast Boy is clearly the best.
- "It's good to have goals, esé. Me? I'm having waffles after you're dead." - THE MAN
- That Wonder Girl nod at the end was very cool. I'm surprised they're going with Donna Troy instead of Cassandra Sandsmark.
I definitely recommend this for anyone who follows the DC side of the superhero world as it's short enough that you aren't investing too much time, yet it also feels complete enough that you aren't feeling underwhelmed. If you're a fan of the Teen Titans in their previous and more child-geared animated formats, you're going to love spending more time with some of these characters, but if you were also not the biggest fan of how childish those series were, you'll love the more adult angle for this adaptation.