HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
HTS Overall Score:81
I will be the first to admit that I’ve been really impressed with Warner’s DC animated films the last 6-8 years. They’ve stood head and shoulders taller than the competition (for the most part) and have done a good job of creating a serialized universe that can stand on its own film wise, but still links in to each and every one that came before it. The Teen Titans originally started out as a much “younger” targeted demographic, but they have done a good job at keeping the teeny stuff palatable for adult audiences, and has actually delved into much more mature material than even the “Batman” comics have for quite some time. It also brings Dick Grayson as Nightwing into the limelight instead of just being a side character as he was for so long. The first “Teen Titans” movie was really masquerading as a “Justice League” film last year when they put out “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” (for some reason they thought that the Titans weren’t marketable enough on their own without dragging in the famed Justice League), and it’s much better tuned than its predecessor. There’s still some backstory that makes more sense if you’ve watched any of the “Teen Titans” TV shows, or read the comics, but it works as a great standalone flick in the DC animated universe and is a blast as an adult (just be warned that it DOES earn its PG-13 rating)
After the events of “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” things have calmed down a bit for the crew. Raven is in control over her powers and Dick Grayson is back in the Titans as well. He and Corri are trying to blend the team’s powers with the help of Damien Wayne (the new Robin, who is also having to learn as much from the Titans as he teaches). There’s even a new team member, Terra, who can manipulate the earth and stone around them. She’s a bit rough around the edges, but slowly learning how the team works. However, it is a comic book movie and that can never last for long. The church of Blood, led by the fanatical Brother blood and his wife, Mother Mayhem, are about to unleash hell on earth. Desiring the Titans for some unearthly experiment, Brother Blood has contracted a hitman to bring him ALL of the Teen Titans. A hitman everyone loves to hate. The master killer, Deathstroke himself.
With a name like “Judas Contract” you can already guess that there’s a Judas Iscariot on the inside of the Titans, and you guessed it. It’s the new girl. Terra has been manipulated and cajoled into believing Deathstroke’s lies and one by one sets up the Titans until there is only one left, herself. With the Titans in captivity and Brother Blood willing to do unspeakable things to them, it’s up to the team’s power of family to overcome. That is, if there is anyone of them left alive by the time the night is through.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95490[/img]It’s hard to say any more about the film without giving anything away about the ending, but let me say that the real heroes for this one are Nightwing, Starfire (Corri), Terra and Deathstroke. The other Titans play an important role in the film, but its these four that really push the story forward. The manipulation that Deathstroke does is nothing short of masterful and you really start to feel for Terra near the second half (even though you want to punch her in the first 45 minutes. I say Nightwing and Starfire are big players simply because this allows for a role reversal and character development in the two’s relationship. Nightwing is now back, but Starfire is the true commander of the Titans now (since Dick WAS the original leader), and it allows him to take a back seat for once instead of being the harsh and unrelenting master that Batman taught him how to be so many years ago. It also allows Starfire to truly come into her own as a leader. Terra is the truly pitiable one though. Her situation was a rough one to begin with, but she now has to contend with the fact that her “savior” has been manipulating and twisting her all along, shattering what little semblance of safety she had left. This forces the young girl to choose her own destiny instead of being a pawn or scapegoat of someone else.
Damien Wayne is a bit downplayed here, even though it DOES give him a change to rekindle his rivalry with Deathstroke, and even though he’s a still a bit cynical and nasty, the maturity and changes he’s gone over in his time since he left Batman’s care is quite substantial. I really have to say that I’m impressed with this one. “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” kind of reminded me of the “Justice League Dark” film that came out a few months back. It was really a “Constantine” flick under the guise of the “Justice League”, and the same can be said of that one as well. The Teens were really the main focus but they had to throw in Justice League characters in order to try and sell it to mass audiences (it’s like DC thinks if you don’t have Flash, Batman or Superman in the movie it won’t sell). This time the Teens are given full control of the film and it’s much more finely tuned and works well to their familial strengths rather than being leached off of by other superheroes taking up valuable screen time.
Rated PG-13 for language, some violence, sensuality, thematic elements and brief drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95498[/img]If you’ve seen one of the DC animated films you’ve seen them all. That’s not a knock on the movie at all, but a recognition that DC animates their New 52 movies very similarly and the animation style (and a flaw that always shows up) is very predictable in all of the films that I’ve reviewed. Colors are a little bit brighter and more vibrant this time around though, as the movie takes place in the DAYTIME instead of the brooding darkness that the “Batman” movies always lean towards. That means Nightwing’s bright red emblem and Starfire’s green energy glows with some serious pop. Fine detailing and CGI blend together quite well and I have to say that the made for TV level animation looks as good as its going to look. There’s STILL the standard banding that Warner’s DC films show (source related as I’ve surmised many times) and that banding likes to show up when the movie gets dark (although there was a few spots of daytime banding that surprised me). It’s not nearly as bad as some of the other ones I’ve seen, as DC seems to have tried to up their animation process the last couple of movies, but it IS noticeable if you know where to look.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95506[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a stunner though. Fully powered and wonderfully aggressive the action oriented track is the highlight of the entire package. Bass pounds away with the score and adds weight to each pounding blow between Nightwing and Deathstroke, as well as roaring with power every time Terra ripped chunks of the earth up to throw at people. Dialog is strong and well centered in the middle of the sound stage and the surrounds are filled with the sounds of superpowered battles. It’s a great sounding track and one that really uses directional movements and pinpoint precision to give little nuances in the stage. A lot of the dialog heavy scenes have a light surround usage, but when the action gets underway the whole listening area is bombarded with 360 degree immersion.
• Batman and Harley Quinn – Sneak peek at the next DC Universe Original Movie, Batman and Harley Quinn, featuring the talented creators and voice cast.
• Titanic Minds: Wolfman and Perez – This revealing documentary explores a creative partnership that has lasted decades as Marv Wolfman and George Pérez come together to discuss their careers and one of the most famous runs in Teen Titan history, The Judas Contract.
• Villains United: Deathstroke – When the super-soldier Deathstroke appears, the forces of good will be in the fight of their lives. This short featurette reveals the origin and unique abilities of this villain.
• Additional Sneak Peeks
• From the DC Comics Vault - Two Bonus Cartoons
“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a fun animated flick that keeps itself fairly in line with the original comic arc of “The Judas Contract”. Terra is the lynch pin of the whole scenario and her end is met with a fantastic sense of gravitas (although purists may be a bit frustrated as they tweaked that ending with her in some substantial ways from the comic. Ways that may not sit well with everyone). It adds a whole other dimension that DC can go into now as the film was met with substantial success and allows for them to start making MORE films outside the standard Bats, Supes, Wonderwoman franchises. The audio and video are both great and fall in line with previous DC animated molds and the extras are substantial enough to warrant a double take. The version I'm reviewing today is the "Deluxe" edition, and the only difference it has between itself and the regular edition is that it comes with an action figure of "Blue Beetle" like all the DC animated films have. Either one will net you the same film, the same special features, but the Deluxe gives the action figure collectors a little bonus goody. Definitely worth checking out if you love the DC animated universe.
Starring: Jake T. Austin, Taissa Farmiga, Stuart Allen
Directed by: Sam Liu
Written by: Ernie Altbacker, Marv Wolfman (comics)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Spanish, Portuguse, Spanish (Castilian) DD 5.1
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Own it on Digital HD 4/4/17 and Blu-ray™ Combo, DVD 4/18
Buy Teen Titans: The Judas Contract On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Deluxe Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
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