May 12, 2017

[Movies] Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) Review

I've been half-and-half when it comes to the DC direct-to-video movies released in the past year or so given the strange direction some of them have taken and perhaps my general discomfort with the New 52. And yet I keep watching each and every DC release as they sometimes have some real gems among them.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a little tricky as it's a very classic story but it's being retold using New 52 style sensibilities and all that jazz. So it's a weird mix of the old and the new in a strange package.

And lets face it, it feels like every adaptation of the Teen Titans eventually introduces the character of Terra and then brings in thee Judas Contract story. It's like Terra is forever doomed to this one story and not much else. We had it in the Teen Titans series on Cartoon Network and here we have it again as a direct-to-video movie.

Poor Terra.

Synopsis: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a direct-to-video superhero cartoon movie directed by Sam Liu. The story and the screenplay was written by Ernie Altbacker.

The movie begins with a quick flash back to an older incarnation of the team. We see how they first meet Starfire (Kari Wahlgren) as she first arrives on Earth on the run from Tamaran forces. After they deal with her pursuers, Starfire is made a member of the team. Then we jump 5 years forward and the team composition has changed including Terra (Christina Ricci), a young woman with earthquake powers.

Terra is a little cold and doesn't quite warm up to the team right away. Despite this, Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo) does his best to make friends with her and perhaps reach out to her on a more intimate level somehow. His efforts do eventually pay off, but then Terra's distance from the team has more to do with other things shes been hiding from the team.

What I Liked: The Beast Boy in this incarnation of the Titans is a lot of fun and was written fairly well. Then you have the usual brooding Raven (Taissa Farmiga), who continues to be a fun character, which is an ironic statement given Raven. As a whole, the team worked out well enough and the writers found quaint ways to get some laughs out of Damian as Robin (Stuart Allan).'

These shows continue to do well in the fight scene department and they had some great moments in the movie. The use of Beast Boy's shape-changing was handled very well to a notable degree. Each hero had some great spotlight moments and it was tricky to manage that given the size of the team.

What Could Have Been Better: I think I'm getting tired of this story in general and I can only handle the retelling so often. Changing up the team line-up to better match the other direct-to-video animated feature didn't really introduce anything new to the story and just swapped people around for the same of current expectations. Most of the story was around Terra and Beast Boy with all the others getting somewhat more supporting narratives.

I'm not sure why the show had to begin with introducing Starfire, since she wasn't too big a character in terms of the plot once you got to the end of things. Sure, she's a part of the team but that was about it, I feel. Then the whole machine needing 6 people instead of 5 felt like a very silly reason to require the last betrayal, but that's life, I suppose.

TL;DR: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a decent amount of fun on its own but feels a little dissonant when compared to other Titan stories. I think we need to move on from this particular story and focus on other aspects of Teen Titans lore or something. Thus the movie gets a good 3 fast-paced efforts at character development out of a possible 5.

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