I shared Vincent Tran‘s excellent fan film Batgirl Rises – Part 1 (2014) back on January 4 (here), along with his other awesome superhero-related fan film Girl of Steel (2013). I said, then, the “finale” was coming May 2015. However, I missed it – so here, now, is the full-length film (above)!
Batgirl Rises stars Lindsay Heath as Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl), Constance Brenneman as Dr. Harleen Quinzel (aka Harley Quinn), Devon Coull as James Gordon Jr., Angelica Bridges as Poison Ivy, Ricco Ross as The Riddler, and Timothy Oman as Hugo Strange. The film was directed by Vincent Tran and written by Riyaana Hartley, Danny Saab and Vincent Tran.
Batgirl Rises is a well-done character study. The action sequences are few and far between, but the drama and tension itself is gripping enough to carry the story – all thanks to the wonderful cast. In Part 1, psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel rescues and convinces librarian Barbara Gordon that, like her, she is “a soul searching for redemption.” Barbara will find her redemption by finding her brother James who disappeared after being shot by a man seeking revenge on their father Commissioner Gordon. Harleen, of course, will find her redemption by reuniting with her lover (aka The Joker). “He sounds very special,” Barbara says, unaware of who Harleen’s lover is. Harleen tells Barbara that the Falcone crime family is responsible for her brother’s disappearance and proposes getting kidnapped by them to find him. In return for Harleen’s help, Barbara will help her free her lover from Arkham Asylum.
In Part 2, Harleen and Barbara are held captive by the Riddler who is working on behalf of the Falcone family. He interrogates them by subjecting them to his riddles. Later, Harleen is interrogated by scientist Hugo Strange and his protégé Poison Ivy. Harleen previously worked with Hugo Strange at Arkham Asylum on mind-control experiments to reverse violent behavior in the asylum’s inmates. James Gordon Jr. was one of their subjects. “You want the Joker. I can show you how to get him,” Strange tells Harleen, as Ivy slides a gun to her across the table. Soon, Harleen is forced to tell Barbara the truth about her brother but Barbara, of course, doesn’t believe her. She is forced to make a difficult decision; and, in the end, so, too, is Harleen.
The truth is that I wasn’t that impressed with Batgirl Rises – Part 2 when I watched it the first time. I thought it was too slow. However, I had just seen episode #16 of Super Power Beat Down (here), and I wanted more unashamed Harley action! So, I let my head clear and re-watched Batgirl Rises – Part 2 with a fresh mind set. I absolutely loved it the second time! I have never seen Harley Quinn depicted as such an sympathetic character whose pain you can truly feel. She’s obsessed with the criminally insane Joker, sure; but, the heart wants what the heart wants, right? You can’t blame her for falling in love – no matter how misguided that (obsessive) love is. Harleen Quinzel, in Batgirl Rises, is very much like Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. [an awesome show whose first 2 seasons I recently binge-watched on Netflix!]. Cal’s love for his daughter Skye (Chloe Bennett) drove him mad, much like Harleen’s love for the Joker has driven her mad. And, truthfully, when Barbara Gordon told Harleen that she wouldn’t help her free the Joker, I was angry, too!! That ungrateful bitch! Harleen saved her life even after Barbara tried to kill Harleen! What more do you want, Babs?!? Of course, one could argue that Harleen only saved Barbara so that she could lead her to the Joker, but I like to think that Harleen truly cared for Barbara, believed that Barbara cared for her, and hoped it would be enough for Barbara to help Harleen break a psychotic clown-faced killer out of an insane asylum. She is crazy, you know – crazy in love! Anyway, Batgirl Rises is awesome and I certainly hope there’s more to come from Vincent Tran‘s vision of these characters.