It's hard to believe that it was ten years ago that Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment first announced The Judas Contract as an animated movie. However, unlike Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier, fans would have to wait a full decade before the iconic 80's tale would finally get the animated treatment.
The Judas Contract was originally planned as one of the first DC Animated Original Movies, but it was delayed time and again, before finally being cancelled in favour of projects centering around more widely known DC Comics characters such as Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Granted, from a business standpoint, this makes sense. However, waiting so long to give the classic Marv Wolfman and George Pérez story the animated treatment has always baffled us - especially given the popularity of the original Teen Titans cartoon.
But, we digress. The wait is finally over. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract finally arrives in stores tomorrow and Warner Bros. has made the long wait worthwhile.
The new movie serves as a follow-up to last year's Justice League vs. Teen Titans and features the same core lineup as the previous animated adventure - Robin, Raven, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Starfire and Nightwing - and new addition Terra rounding out the team. The young heroes now find themselves confronted by the dual threat of Deathstroke and Brother Blood - a man obsessed with obtaining the powers of the Teen Titans and transforming himself into a living god. Additionally, many of the team's previous struggles are also spotlighted throughout the course of the film - from Beast Boy's silent struggle regarding his unique nature to Terra attempting to conquer the demons of her past. These add dimension to the young heroes and allow them to come across as more realistic and relatable to those watching the film.
Granted, most of these struggles are only briefly addressed in the film, with only Terra really undergoing a full blown character arc. She is a truly tortured individual and this movie does a great job of showcasing her inner torment without too much in the way of pointless backstory.
Once again, the voice cast in uniformly on point. Sean Maher continues to shine as Nightwing, while newcomer Christina Ricci pretty much nails the surly, defiant nature of Terra. Additionally, the late Miguel Ferrer, who passed away shortly after completing his voice work on the film, gave fans a truly great version of Deathstroke. The action is fun and fast-paced, and the showdown between Nightwing and Deathstroke is one of the very best scenes that this animated feature has to offer.
Now, there are some pretty big changes from the original story in this new film: Cyborg is now a member of the Justice League, replaced by the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle. Donna Troy only has a very brief cameo appearance in the new movie. And the Damien Wayne version of Robin, who plays a major role in the new movie, wasn't even around when the original comic hit the newsstands, but, none of these changes really matter. We're diehard DC Comics fans here at Infinite Earths and The Judas Contract happens to be one of our most favorite stories from the 1980's. To us, there were only two ways this new animated adaption could turn out and, despite these changes, director Sam Liu and writer Ernie Altbacker are successful in nailing the overall essence of this iconic tale.
Honestly, if we had anything to complain about, it would be that we really wish Deathstroke's origins had been explored a little more - especially given that it was within the pages of the original story that Wolfman and Pérez first introduced the world to the man who would become the top assassin within the DC Universe. However, this flick really has a lot going for it in the ways of character development and action, so we're willing to let this slide - even if it really is something rather important to the character of Slade Wilson.
In short, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is easily one of the best DC Animated Original Movies to see release over the last ten years. While it may only be a loose adaption of the source material, we feel that the powers that be behind this new feature have done an excellent job taking a story that ran in the pages of DC Comics for two years and condensing it down to a 75-Minute movie. Fans have been waiting a long time for the animated take on The Judas Contract, and this version does not disappoint.
Keep in mind that these DC Animated Original Movies are aimed at an older audience, so we'd recommend not showing this one to younger fans. However, if you're like us and grew up reading the books these animated movies are based upon, we're guessing you'll find something to appreciated about the latest animated adventure within the DC Universe.
Starring the voice talents of Sean Maher, Kari Wahlgren, Jake T. Austin, Brandon Soo Hoo, Stuart Allen, Taissa Farmiga, Christina Ricci, Miguel Ferrer and Gregg Henry, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is available now for Digital HD. Blu-Ray and DVD copies hit store shelves tomorrow.
Special thanks to Gary Miereanu for making this review possible.
Until next time, Infinite Earths fans!
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