Friday 5 July 2019

Batman VS TMNT ★★★★☆

After the terrifying graphics and shoddy delivery of Michael Bay’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ in 2014, I’ve not ventured much further into the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ franchise. I’ll admit, I had to pause for a moment when I saw ‘Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. I’d completely forgotten that there was a whole comic miniseries dedicated to this concept, and seeing it again made me realise just how bizarre the mash-up sounds. DC’s serious and brooding Batman mixed with Nickelodeon’s hyped up and pizza-loving turtle brothers… Could this really work?

Set in Gotham, Batman (Troy Baker, who also voices The Joker), Robin (Ben Giroux), and Batgirl (Rachel Bloom) are investigating a series of high-tech thefts from various research centres in the area. The evidence suggests ninjas, however, Batman and team aren’t exactly sure who they are. Leonardo (Eric Bauza), Donatello (Baron Vaughn), Raphael (Darren Criss), and Michelangelo (Kyle Mooney) are hot on the scene having arrived from New York City, and they conclude that this mysterious bat-cloaked figure has something to do with the thefts. After a couple of misunderstandings, the brothers and the Bat realise they’re both on the same side, and team up to stop the thefts from threatening the very existence of Gotham.

I actually can’t believe how well this animation has worked out – it could have fallen completely flat, but director Jake Castorena and writers Marly Halpern-Graser, James Tynion IV have done a seriously good job here. The turtle brothers are brought to life in the film, their personalities shining through the script. This doesn’t take away from the Batman feel of it though, with that side of things equally strong. The two teams having to pair up is quite interesting and, although this type of plot (two completely different styles working together) has been done thousands of time before, it actually feels fresh.

One thing I really appreciated was the commentary from the turtles as they travel around Gotham. Their constant observations reinforce exactly what the audience is thinking – Gotham is a seriously weird place. The way they bounce off the Gotham residents leads to character development on both sides, and there’s so many memorable one-liners that inject lots more humour than you might expect, plus of course lots of slapstick from Michelangelo which I thought wouldn’t work but really did.

The other thing that really stands out is the fighting, with excellent choreography that demonstrates different fighting styles on both sides. It really brings the animation to life, from the scene where Batman and the turtles fight to a gripping battle between Batman and one of the main antagonists towards the end of the story. I found that it was much more well-choreographed than other animations in the DC universe, and because of the turtle brothers’ martial fighting style, more attention is paid to this than usual. Sometimes I find the fighting scenes to be a little lacklustre and dull compared to the more story-progressive parts, but this was certainly not the case this time around.

‘Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ was an animation that I didn’t have massively high hopes for and if I’m honest, was a little bit worried about. Thankfully it far surpassed my expectations, delivering a seriously fun and refreshing crossover that managed to make a fairly average plot into a story I’d happily recommend to fans of either universe.

Hannah Read

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