‘Teen Titans: Judas Contract’ Review (Spoiler-Free)

The DC Animated Movie Universe (a.k.a the DCAMU), has been adapting comic book story arcs into animated feature films since 2014. The stories that have been adapted have been mainly from DC’s New 52, such as Throne of Atlantis and Justice League: Origins. But Warner Bros. Animation decided to take a step away from the New 52 to bring to life one of the most iconic Teen Titans stories every told: Judas Contract.

The original Judas Contract story arc was released in 1984, so I was interested (if not apprehensive) to see how this story would tie-in to a modern day, animated film in an established movie universe. I was not disappointed- as Teen Titans: Judas Contract faithfully uses themes and plot points from the original comics to bring a fresh, retelling of the story to a modern audience.

When we last saw the Teen Titans (in Justice League vs Teen Titans), Robin had solidified his place as a member of the team and a new member, Tara, was shown to be on her way to join up. The plot of Teen Titans: Judas Contract follows the Titans along with the newly recruited Tara as they attempt to take down the dangerous cultist, Brother Blood. The team is still being led by Starfire, and consists of Robin, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Raven and Tara. Nightwing also joins in for this mission, and helps lead and train the Titans alongside Starfire.

Judas Contract takes the extra step to develop these characters as heroes by focusing on the issues they face in their personal lives. I found myself more invested than I expected to be in characters like Blue Beetle and Beast Boy, whose personal lives rarely get much attention. Admittedly, there are some pacing problems throughout the movie, but by the time the credits roll there’s no doubt that a solid story has been told.

There are points where the movie seems to try to force in an adolescent-appealing tone, which doesn’t work well with the rest of the film. Teen Titans: Judas Contract is strongly PG-13. There are some harsh, dark moments; a lot (maybe too many) of sexual innuendos; and intense violence. So when the movie tries to make light, teen moments happen, it feels inorganic and unwelcome. Of course, this is a TEEN Titans movie, so it would be expected that those elements would be included, but they simply don’t work with the rest of the story.

The voice acting work is good throughout, with the standouts being Sean Maher as Nightwing, Miguel Ferrer as Deathstroke, and Christina Ricci as Tara. It’s also fun to see how Stuart Allan has expanded in his role as Damian Wayne/Robin. The late Miguel Ferrer had consistently done a great job in bringing a certain grittiness to Deathstroke, and has set a high standard for that character in the future. Kevin Smith also makes a cameo appearance, which is… interesting. But, if you’re a big Kevin Smith fan, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it!

Animation is great overall, which has come to be expected of each DCAMU entry thanks to an exceptional Animation Department. There are a couple of awkward delays in dialogue moments due to lack of animation, but that’s less of an animation issue and more of an editing issue. Technically speaking, the flaws that exist don’t detract much from the movie’s quality.

RECAP

8.5 / 10

Despite minor pacing issues, Teen Titans: Judas Contract succeeds at creating a fresh retelling of a beloved comic book story arc that will satisfy old fans and new fans alike.

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