Harley Quinn, by her own admission, is a hellion but she sparks by the beat of her own drum. As the 2nd season of the animated show enters with the first episode “New Gotham”, the beauty of this kind of cartoon becomes clear. It is an adult cartoon and embraces it, none more than Kaley Cuoco, who brings a degree of flagrancy in Quinn embracing that inner party girl that we always knew was within Penny. The introduction of the 2nd season shows a lawlessness in play. In many ways, the set up is inspired by “Escape From New York”. Considering in another life, Snake Plisken would have been Quinn’s surrogate father, the comparison definitely plays to the texture. Like “Birds Of Prey”, the aspect has Quinn out on her own but with a band of misfits. Poison Ivy, like any good roommate on a dark “Clueless” adventure, understands the impulse that Quinn deals with her decisions but not the logic.
As the episode progresses, the idea that permeates is that there has to be some order within anarchy (i.e. “Escape From New York”). The episode (and the series) does not back off from the language and the gore which is refreshing while the comedy (especially the sushi irony with a shark wanting a human roll per se) is decidedly dark on purpose. That said, the comedy is fairly freewheeling and more in the context of what psychotics might talk about. Ultimately, all kidding aside, the overall motivation is power. But Quinn, in her best traits, knows how to subvert power. Her interlude inside a bar to all the underlings of other crime lords is inspired in many ways. Harley wants to have her own little world because oddly enough that is where her peace lies. In “Birds Of Prey” it was her apartment until it was demolished. In this episode, it is an abandoned mall where she has her own sled pulled by her hyenas and she kidnaps sushi chefs. Happiness is a state of being and with this episode, chaos is Quinn’s favorite as long as it has the simply pleasures.
By Tim Wassberg
While many nature films sometimes struggle for a sense of personality or go for the essence of shock and awe with the degree of technical prowess, the essence of the humor of the situation is touch and go. With some celebrity narrators it works and, at other times, it seems either too wooden and lacking in connection. In “Dolphin Reef”, there is a different approach. Whether it is better or not remains to be seen. But Natalie Portman brings herself to the reading. Having met her many times, there is a sense of fun but balance with an essence of value and seriousness behind her presentation. She is not afraid of making a joke at her own expense, if it is the right one. That is why many of the vignettes work here because it waxes at times both funny and maybe a little awkward but always heartfelt. “Dolphin Reef” isn’t inherently about the dolphins but more about the community of animals that make up this area. It starts off following a young male Dolphin named Echo with his mother. Having in the past few years become a mother herself, that essence of the story seems very authentic and plays very well on Portman’s behalf. This is a piece of artistic work that she can show her children and definitely balances within the Disney structure that maybe has been too slick in its docos lately. Many of them have felt like certain mirrors to BBC’s productions (which are sometimes done in concert). This one feels more Disney which is helped by the fact of Portman’s continuing collaboration with the Disney company. The circle of life as shown through the different ideas of life both with fear of night, cleaning spots for turtles and an especially fun mantis shrimp which has to deal with falling debris from parrotfish, This gives the short feature a nice balance leading into a story of humpback whales which revolves around to mating and protection in the animal kingdom. Considering her real world advocacy and rightfully so, it is also nice to see Portman reflecting in the narration of the natural course in the wild since there is balance in nature.”Dolphin Reef” is inherently watchable as it is a story of family but it also doe not shy away from the comedy of life.
By Tim Wassberg