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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a direct-to-DVD feature from Warner Bros. Animation that's based on a 1984 DC Comics Teen Titan story. Directed at fans of the long-popular comic book series about young superheroes (first issued in 1973), the movie doesn't give much time to the players' histories (except for a few flashbacks), explanation of their unique powers, or past relationships. For new viewers, however, once the fast-moving story gets going, enough information is provided to make it work. Some action sequences, and there are many, are particularly brutal with point-blank gun action, laser blasts, heroes shackled to the wall, and ferocious hand-to-hand combat; characters are crushed, shot to death, and buried alive. Occasional profanity is used ("s--t," "bastard," "piss off," "hell"). Two prominent members of the team are engaged in a relationship; they kiss and engage in sexual banter ("try that move from last weekend"). Because of its mature themes, frequent violent action, occasional profanity, and light sexual references, it's for mature tweens and teens only and not at all like the kid-friendly TV cartoon show (Teen Titans Go!).
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What's the story?
Megalomaniac cult leader Brother Blood (voiced by Gregg Henry) is out to rule world in TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT. What will ensure his success is the destruction of the Titans and taking possession of their extraordinary powers. Blood has enlisted the services of formidable Titan foe Deathstroke (Miguel Ferrer in one of his last roles) to capture the band of superheroes one by one. For this long-planned assault, Deathstroke has a secret weapon in place -- unbeknownst to the team, there may be a traitor in their midst! Titan leader Starfire (Kari Wahlgren), along with Nightwing (Sean Maher) and the rest of the heroes -- Robin/Damian (Stuart Allan), Blue Beetle (Jake T. Austin), Raven (Taissa Farmiga), Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo), and the newest, Titan Terra (Christina Ricci) -- find themselves up against dangerous fiends who will stop at nothing and have old scores to settle as well. In a series of fearsome and bloody battles, using all the weapons and superpowers at hand, Teen Titans fight for their lives and for the very survival of a free civilization.
Is it any good?
Attention is paid to character, as well as dynamic action, in this animated story of treachery and world domination, providing considerable emotional heft as well as solid adventure. Director Sam Liu has made a very grown-up version of the Teen Titans, relying on a story once told in comic book form more than three decades ago. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract will be most satisfying to fans who are already familiar with the various team members, their powers, and what led them to join up and fight against oppression and evil. Well-made, well-performed, and with a comprehensible plot, this film has all the essential zaps, blasts, and fights to the death required of teen superhero movies, as well as a few sad, reflective moments. It's appropriate only for older, mature kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the timeless nature of popular comic book franchises. What qualities do the heroes and villains possess that make them as relevant today in shows like Teen Titans: The Judas Contract as they were decades ago? What does the traditional "good versus evil" theme tell you about how some things never change?
Starfire became the Titan leader after Nightwing left the team in an earlier story. What does the addition of many strong female characters in significant roles tell you about how some things do change over decades?
What is meant by the statement in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract "[t]o be ready for anything, you must train for everything"? Has this concept ever proven true for you? Give some examples.
- On DVD or streaming: April 18, 2017
- Cast: Stuart Allan, Christina Ricci, Sean Maher
- Director: Sam Liu
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence, suggestive material, language
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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