Ever since DC started making regularly released animated movies, there have been a few stories fans have hoped to see brought to life. The Judas Contract is one of these stories. Considered one of the pivotal Teen Titans stories that took the team from stories for a younger audience to a much more serious tone. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract after years of being added and taken off the release schedule is finally fulfilling this long awaited dream. Pulling heavily from the original comic’s story and building on to the already existing stories built into the DC animated feature film universe Judas Contract is poised to be one of the best Teen Titan animations yet!
Taking place at least a year after the events of “Justice League VS Teen Titans”, which if you haven’t seen yet I recommend, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract starts with the team infiltrating a base belonging to the zealot group Brother Blood. Its revealed that Nightwing has returned to the group, and there is a new member, Terra. Terra has control over earth and rock, and to some pretty powerful effect, regularly taking out multiple baddies in a single move. Yet it seems despite some differences, the team does work well together. More than once they all play a small role in taking out a single bigger foe. Before it’s all over Brother Blood is able to evacuate and it is hinted that they knew that the Titans were coming.
The movie slows down a bit after that to show us a bit more on how the changes have impacted the team personally. Terra it seems doesn’t get along well with anyone, though to be fair, constant cheesy pun-driven advances from Beast Boy may do that to a person. Nightwing coming back seems to have shifted leadership dynamics, and progressed his relationship with Starfire. Blue Beetle misses his family and starts volunteering at a soup kitchen like he did when he lived with them. Overall it’s a nice look into the more personal lives of the Titans before things pick up again later when Robin decides to follow Terra when she goes out in the middle of the night.
The voice acting, like in past DC animated releases is surprisingly good considering it’s a straight to retail release! Each character sounds distinct, and their personality comes through. Character emotions are clear, and even at times, subtle. Even the villain is held back and not over-acted like many cartoon villains. It is a good ensemble, nothing stellar and no standout performances, but all done well. The music is pretty generic and essentially just helps set the pace and mood of each scene. The sound effects are also just there, generic sound effects even for significant things like powers. I think this is where Judas Contract feels most like a straight to retail title. There just simply isn’t budget for a grand score and specifically recorded foley.
Character designs in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract are well done, each character not only looks like they are supposed to but also carry some of each character’s personality too. From their posture and facial expression you get a pretty good idea of each character before they even speak or do anything. As for the animation, it ranges. When there is action or something spectacular happening, it is really well directed, and animated! However, during the slower parts and dialogue, there are a lot of still frames. In fact at one point an entire part of the story is strictly told through Beast Boy’s selfies to his “TWEETER” account. Highlights include the opening infiltration of Brother Blood, a really cool fight between Deathstroke and Nightwing, and a really emotional climactic ending. One major letdown was you see the aftermath of what must have been super cool fight, but you only just see one character talking as they look at the carnage around them, another side-effect of being straight to retail I suppose.
Though purists may not like the changes made to fit it into the current narrative of the animated universe, I found this to be one of the best ones yet! I can only think of two other I enjoyed more and those are Justice League: Doom, and The Dark Knight Returns (both part 1 and part 2) both of which are also based on classic DCU comics. With a twist that isn’t too hard to see coming isn’t what makes me like this movie. Its the fact they address some pretty intense emotions centered around trauma, betrayal, and identity. It is always cool to see animation tackle more serious stories and this one does a great job! Considering its budget and what you’ll spend on a copy, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is definitely worth adding to your DC Animated collection.