Now, I had read John C. Wright's half review and was very much down about this response. Then I had seen later responses on Twitter that said it was ok. I needed to watch it for myself. Thus, now you will be presented with my response to the film and JCW's half review. This will be a bit spoiler heavy, as I'm partly responding to a JCW review.
First things first, as you encounter it in the disc menu: the music is just not quite right. Also, the opening sequence has the Floronic Man killing a man, with blood shown. Not right for this story for reasons I'll hit up later(same reasons apply to music).
Now, to some of JCW's points and summary:
First, Batman blackmailing Sarge Steel over his S+M habits: I don't really mind that, but why did Sarge Steel try to banter with Batman? That's lame, this isn't a comedy presentation of Batman.
Bats criticizing cops missing evidence(no big), and Nightwing finding Harley somewhat on accident(again, no big). Though Batman usually doesn't come off as arrogant, merely assured and competent.
Mr. Wright has some issue with Nightwing fighting Harley when she started the fight. He failed to note that in the comics, Nightwing is usually pulling his punches in that type of situation. Women are a major weakness for him, and that's WHY Harley lasted long enough to hit him with the diluted Joker venom.
Umm, then there's the bondage and costume sex setup. I have issue with that, as Nightwing is a moral character for the most part. But JCW has issue with Nightwing not being able to escape, ignoring that if Harley has ever been part of a bondage scene(likely with her relations, and this presentation), she would be able to keep any escape artist tied up.
Batman walking in on them tickling each other: LAME.
Harley's gas in the Batmobile and the ex she tracks and beats up: also lame.
The barfight with the big words over the bar is a throwback to the Adam West show, which feels way off here.
And there ends JCW's comments, as he stopped watching.
He missed a great lying diatribe on global warming and deforestation. When the USA has more trees now than at its founding, they're playing crappy agenda games. And, being plant related villians that can actually talk with plants, they should know better. And focus their activities in areas that are the real polluters and destroyers of the wild.
Harley and Ivy had a ridiculous girl friendship scene after Harley had triple crossed her to try to save folks. I don't know if that's anywhere near realistic, but I don't care.
He also missed the really bad presentation of Swamp Thing. It's worshipful, he's a huge physical character and part of the Parlaiment of Trees. This was so bad. Batman would never be in awe, but understanding. Nightwing would perhaps be in awe for awhile, but he'd likely not be at this time. Floronic Man and Poison Ivy? Sure. That makes sense, but Batman and Nightwing would not worship what has been turned into a eco-Buddha.
Then there's the bit with setting the Floronic Man afire, and Harley's new show, Ask Dr. Quinn (actually a bit funny), which somehow misses the point that she did have a Psych liscence, and became Harley because she fell in love while treating the Joker.
This film had a freaking huge case of not knowing what it was. Too much was played for laughs, and I mean obvious comedy setups, not dry humor like was seen in B:TAS. There are reasons I bring this up. With casting, they harken back to that show(both Batman and Nighwing played by the same guys). Costuming and character design match pretty closely to that as well. But the rest?
The music has moments. Those moments come only when they're borrowing from the old Bruce Timm series(they borrow from Batman Beyond, even). But only moments.
The scripting and even the action feel off. In part because they're pushing a weird mixture of Adam West and TAS Batman versions, with S+M humor added. This of course ignores that the mixture, minus the S+M has already been done, and done very well with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Fun, and funny, yet Batman takes crimefighting seriously, and is largely a serious character.
Now, part of the reasons for this terrible comprehension can be found in the special features. They seem to think Batman: The Animated Series was grim and dark. And that the Adam West Batman was pure humor and fun. To which I say, they've got it backwards. and their misunderstanding of both shows is exactly why they got it wrong.
Adam West Batman may have been a comedy, but they were dead serious about their point. The show was in many ways poking fun at the idea of Law and Order, and showing those for it to be "square". It was a show for the condescending "smart set" of its time, who thought comics were for morons, and ideas of Good and Evil likewise. This awareness does not diminish my appreciation for the show, but I was born over a decade later, and love the cheesiness of it anyway.
Batman: The Animated Series on the other hand, was a straight depiction of Good vs. Evil, and showed greatly the impact. Sure, the color palette was dark: how better to show his actions as those of light than for those to outshine him? This Batman is clearly in some ways the same character that would run with the bomb on the docks from the Adam West film. But he doesn't bumble around, he isn't played for laughs. He's a warrior, a knight in dark armor(it's camoflage), and those make for someone people want to BE. Who wants to be the truly dark version, a corruptible vigilante for hire? No, as a kid one wants to be the shining symbol of light.
In fact if anything is dark about the show, it's the way Bruce Wayne manipulates himself for the sake of Batman's cases. And even that is played as part of the cost of being Batman. In order to be the incorruptible symbol feared by criminals, he must be a bit of a fop and a fool. At least until someone looks really closely. Is he ever really the playboy? Unlikely, but he plays it. The corrupt businessman? Nope, but you have to look at his dealings first.
Of course, this complete misunderstanding of their creations causes me a bit of concern for the next film, Gotham by Gaslight. The preview says they're adding material, which if it was Master of the World, I wouldn't care, but there's a bit of other stories that looks like they added. Catwoman from Batman: Two Faces doesn't belong here. Why must they keep playing. As Hitchcock said, "Just shoot the play."
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.