22nd May2019

‘Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Features the voices of: Troy Baker, Eric Bauza, Darren Criss, Kyle Mooney, Baron Vaughn | Written by Marly Halpern-Graser | Directed by Jake Castorena

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When a new menace in Gotham begins stealing all the experimental technology, Batman is put on high alert. But, a team of warriors lurking beneath the streets are also on the case; the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Led by Leonardo and along with his brothers, the brainy Donatello, fearless Raphael and wisecracking Michelangelo; these mysterious martial artists are on a collision course with the Dark Knight.

Based on the hit DC Comics crossover, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is DC animated adventure the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Yes, we’ve had some great crossovers, a Japan-set adventure for Batman and co,. but there’s just something so remarkably fun about throwing together Batman and the Turtles in an animated movie – especially when you get the balance between the seriousness of Batman and the outlandish humour of TMNT right. As this film does. And does so VERY well.

What also works well with Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the imagery. Between the Batman rogues gallery that are turned into beast-based Turtle-esque creatures: Scarecrow becomes a giant crow, Mr. Freeze a polar bear, Bane as Man-Tiger (think King from Tekken) etc.; and the grotesque hallucinations the Scarecrow’s fear gas causes, there’s some really remarkable visual delights within this film – including one fantastic mutation that is totally brilliant and totally a spoiler, so I’m not going to mention who/what here.

Beyond the creature design the animation itself looks very noir-ish, with heavy blacks and plenty of shadows combined with some colourful character work – again in a true cross between the animation style of the Turtles cartoons and the darkness of the Batman books; and remarkably there’s a real look and feel of the old 90s animated Batman cartoon to the animation here too.

The superb character design and animation is matched only by the superb story and tremendous voice acting. The latter in particular is a real highlight – with Tory Baker’s Batman and Kyle Mooney’s Michaelangelo the real standouts. In fact its Mooney and his Michaelangleo that really make this movie: the characterisation in the voice and the script is on point and the animation is delightful, bringing the laughs and the heart to this tall tale. I seriously think DC & Nickelodeon are on to a winner with the pariing of Baker and Mooney and here’s hoping they’re back for more installments… After all, aren’t DC now on Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 now?

Honestly, for me, these mash-ups are the future of DC’s animated output – this film certainly is leaps and bounds above the recent DC animated movies IMHO, with a perfect blend of laughs and action that will please fans of both franchises; and easily made this particular film much more exciting (and much more watchable) than a LOT of the DC animated flicks that have come before it!

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is available on digital now. The film comes to DVD and Blu-ray on June 3rd.

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