by Ian Morton
Superheroes have had a long history of strange team ups; from Superman and his epic battle with boxing legend, Muhammad Ali through to the X-Men teaming up with the Star Trek clan, there really is no limit when it comes to the comic world.
In 2016 however, the masterminds over at DC comics thought they had broken the wheel when they decided to pair the caped crusader with the heroes in a half shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Like many things in life that can’t be explained – the peanut butter and jelly sandwich or how the humble bumble bee flies – the graphic novel miniseries was a surprising success, earning praise for its emotional depth while at the same time making sure to crack the same jokes the Turtles are known for.
Fast forward to 2019 and the folks over at Warner Bros Animation have taken on the impossible task by adapting one the strangest pairings from page to screen but have succeeded in almost the same way that made the graphic novel so compelling.
After two of the biggest villains in comic lore team up for no good, Batman and the Turtles find themselves an unlikely team in the face of evil. Looking to improve upon the Ooze formula The Turtles series is known for, Shredder gets in bed (not literally) with Ra’s al Ghul in the hopes to gain access to the magic of the Lazarus Pit.
You could be forgiven at this point for still having reservations about the plot but thankfully the initial meet-cute between our heroes is more than enough to settle the stomach of any staunch superhero fan.
From the offset, opposites attract as the humour of the Turtles effortlessly blends with the dour tone of the Caped Crusader. With a surprising set of similarities between the two worlds, it almost feels like pairing that should be thriving in more adventures together rather than hiding in the shadows.
The animation is beautiful, taking elements of Manga animation and blending it with a dark colour palette and simple character design. Whether staring at the wide vistas of Gotham or gawping at the impressive action sequences, this is a pretty film that doesn’t leave you scratching your head as to what is going on.
With inspiration coming from classic martial arts and The Raid films, Director Jake Castorena has done a fantastic job with the cartoon-fu (i’m copywriting that). While many animated movies succumb to simple fight sequences that do little to the imagination, Castorena proves that there is space in the medium to have fun with both camera and pencil, crafting some of the most exciting fight scenes witnessed in an animated movie.
The impressive voice cast do a great job at rounding the film off nicely. While some may miss the iconic vocal talent of Kevin Conroy, there should be some pleasure knowing that his replacement comes in the form of acclaimed voice artist, Troy Baker. Pairing this with the vocal stylings of Eric Bauza (Leonardo), Darren Criss (Raphael), Kyle Mooney (Michelangelo) and Baron Vaughn (Donatello) and the film that makes you tangibly feel like you are watching an authentic take on the titular heroes.
While there are some moments, particularly in the second act that feel almost tacked on and somewhat tied to the events of the comic, the overall result is a movie that in many cases surpasses expectation. Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles joins the ranks of unexplained phenomenon – a film that never should never work….yet somehow does!
Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is available on VOD and released on DVD and Blu Ray on the 3rd June 2019.
———On the Disc———
In keeping with tradition, Warner Bros Animation are quite good with their special features but there is a little lacking on this particular production.
There are a couple of nifty interviews with the filmmakers as well as an interesting vignette about how they animated some of the fight scenes but that’s about it.
When you compare this to something like the Batman: The Killing Joke (2016), it’s a little disappointing given that BVsT is the more superior film.
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