ANIMATION REVIEW: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) Blu-ray/DVD Combo

WARNING! SPOILERS WITHIN! WARNING!

I’ve always been into hero toons be it DC or Marvel, but I’ve never really been into the comics that inspired them except for a year in my early twenties (’89-’90) when I actually collected. Not even when I got into high school and met my best friend who was a major comic book collector. What did grab my interest though were the covers. Gerry collected from this bookstore and a comic book store in town and I was always awed by the covers, so much so I wished I was into them, but the only thing I collected back then were those Marvel encyclopedia issues they put out that chronicled the heroes and villains, their powers, and their history. At some point I became aware of a group of heroes called Teen Titans, so I knew of their existence long before they got animated.

Animation has taken many leaps and bounds since those days of the 80s, anime too, but when the Teen Titans (2003-006) finally got their own cartoon it didn’t interest me. I took in a few episodes but it felt and looked to be aimed at littler kids. It wasn’t until many years later after it was cancelled that I learned the storytelling turned more serious in later seasons. Someday I’ll have to grab a season and have a look at it now. The Teen Titans-esque Young Justice (2011-2013) show, however, I was a big fan of and still own both seasons on blu-ray. Now that was a deftly constructed and plotted hero toon with dark twists of shock aimed at “older kids.” I still rank it as one of the best DC animated shows since Justice League (2001-2004)/Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006), and that’s saying something. When Teen Titans came back to TV it was in the form of Teen Titans Go!, a show obviously aimed at tots this time, and thus garnered no interest from me.

The moment Warner Brothers started their DC animated movie line back in 2007 I was hoping they’d some day do a Teen Titans movie, well, that didn’t happen until way down the line in 2016. Better late than never. Their first movie, however, they had to share with the Justice League since it was called, Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016), but I loved it. The Titan team finally gets a movie all to their own in this second chapter, depending on how you want to look at it, and I loved this one too!

Before the main plot kicks in we get a FIVE YEARS BEFORE prologue where we get an origin tale of how Starfire joined the team and who the members were back then: Beast Boy (sporting a different outfit), Bumblebee, Kid Flash, and Speedy, with Robin (Dick Grayson) leading the team. This is where Grayson and Starfire began their relationship. Shifting ahead to modern day we get a look at how the team roster looks now: Starfire is the leader; Bumblebee, Kid Flash and Speedy are gone to be replaced with Raven, Robin (Damien Wayne), and Blue Beetle (who has a full head of hair now and not that annoying Mohawk he had in Justice League vs. Teen Titans). Dick is all grown up and out on his own as Nightwing, and has recently rejoined the team, but if you’ve seen the previous movie you’ll already have a pretty good idea of this current roster. Cyborg is still with the Justice League so he’s nowhere in sight in this standalone Titans flick. There’s one more new recruit, which we got a hint of at the tail end of Justice League vs. Teen Titans —Terra! She was seen in a quick shot journeying to Titans Tower.

The team’s roster in the prologue

At first and for the long haul she appears to everyone, and we the viewer, as a chick with an attitude, for even though she’s with the Titans, she doesn’t care to be with the Titans. She trains with them and goes on missions with them and endures Beast Boy’s crush, but she doesn’t willingly want to fit in, and then there’s a moment on the beach with Beast Boy where she might be someone the Titans will have.

This is all a ruse.

Her very presence on the team from the beginning is to be a mole for Deathstroke. He’s not the main villain, but is in the acting capacity as, perhaps, Head Goon for this immortal cult-leader known as Brother Blood. The leader of Hive in this version. His mission like most villains is power, and he intends to use the Titans to get it.

Mercenary Deathstroke is in his employ to secure the Titans so he can hook them up to a machine that’ll drain their powers and bestow them upon him. In the final act this actually happens and the Titans have to battle with a being that’s composed of all their abilities, while Terra takes on her sugar daddy for betraying her.

For those that know the comic arc this movie is based on, Terra, is revealed to be a psychopath, and ends up meeting her doom at the end of it all. Oh, yeah, she dies in the movie as well. Though she doesn’t come off as 100% psycho in this medium, but she does show off her true colors for a short time in the final act, but Deathstroke’s betrayal kind of drains that previous shock a bit, ultimately making her look more victim than victimizer.

The action scenes are great and I loved the relationship dynamic between Starfire and Nightwing. I was a little taken aback by the scene where Terra tries to seduce Deathstroke, and him telling her to hold off until the mission is done. We get the feeling she’s been trying to nail him for as long as they’ve been together.

There’s a brief scene of the Titans training a new recruit, a chick with black hair and a star emblem on her chest. Honestly, not knowing the Titans roster beyond the immediate I had no idea who that was, but I’ll assume she’ll be in the next Titans movie.

I loved everything about this movie, and can assume they’ll probably be at least one more movie. WB/DC seems to do linked movies in arcs of three, but I’d like to see a fourth Titans flick before they move on. And speaking of moving on I’d love to see a solo Swamp Thing three movie arc someday too. Come on, WB/DC, make that happen!

And as I write this review voice work is currently being recorded for the much anticipated Young Justice: Season Three!!!

This coming April 18th Warner Brother Home Entertainment releases Teen Titans: The Judas Contract in four editions: A solo DVD, a DVD/Blu-ray combo, a Target steelbook and a Deluxe Edition (DVD/Blu-ray) with a Blue Beetle figure! Normally I’d post Amazon links to them, but as of this review Amazon appears to be boycotting Warner again.


Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 German Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital—English SDH, French, German SDH, Portuguese, Spanish subs.

Extras included . . .

  • Titanic Minds: Reuniting Wolfman and Perez (27:35)
  • Villain Rising: Deathstroke (9:00)
  • Sneak Peek – Batman and Harley Quinn (9:08)
  • Sneak Peek – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (7:48)
  • Sneak Peek – Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (10:38)
  • From the DC Comics Vault: Teen Titans (“Terra”) (full frame) & Teen Titans (“Titan Rising”) (widescreen)

Before I depart I need to mention actor Miguel Ferrer, who voiced Deathstroke, and who did I really great job, outshining most of the other voice actors! He died back in January, in fact before it was revealed he was voicing the character, which was an odd thing to see break on the Net. It was something like,’ Miguel Ferrer joins the cast of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.’ He came back from the dead to voice this character? Now that’s dedication to your craft. I’m guessing this is probably one of the very last acting gigs he got before he died, if not the very last one. For me he’ll always be remembered as coke-snortin’ hooker-loving corporate suit, Bob Morton, from Robocop (1987) and soulless reporter, Richard Dees, from The Night Flier (1997).

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About Shawn Francis

Movie collector and horror writer.
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