REVIEW: Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Surprising to some, Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have some commonalities. After all, the half-shell heroes were initially created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird as a parody of Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil, before coming to DC and turning his talents to The Dark Knight. Both properties work best in the shadows and had the producers of this animated adventure leaned into that, this could have been a cut above an obvious cash grab.
The participants have met before, in three miniseries from DC Comics and IDW in addition to one strictly set in their “Adventures” incarnations, aimed more at all-ages readers. Now, we have Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a briskly paced story. It’s not bad, but boy, it could have been so much more had anyone made an effort.
The versus portion of the story is the most obvious bit of fan service since time immemorial has required crossovers to begin with a fight before a partnership can begin. The Foot Clan arrives in Gotham City for nefarious purposes and gets discovered by Batgirl (Rachel Bloom) just before Leonardo (Eric Bauza), Donatello (Baron Vaughn), Raphael (Darren Criss), and Michelangelo (Kyle Mooney) arrive. As usual, they are on the trail of Shredder (Andrew Kishino) and the next target is, of course Wayne Enterprises. Enter: Batman (Troy Baker) and Robin (Ben Giroux). Mix, repeat.
And if the usual felons arrive for one team, surely we must have equal villains for the other so toss in The Penguin (Tom Kenny), Mr. Freeze John DiMaggio), Two-Face (Keith Ferguson), Ra’s al Ghul (Cas Anvar), Scarecrow (Jim Meskimen0, and of course, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (both Tara Strong). All of these are underutilized which is s shame since the turtles versus the rogues could have been as interesting as watching the Caped Crusader face off against Shredder.
This works when your young viewer knows both properties because introductions and backgrounds are the least concern to writer Marly Halpern-Graser and director Jake Castorena. Instead, it’s to keep things upbeat and moving for 84 colorful minutes. One thing rising above the sameness is Kevin Riepl’s score.
The film is out in a variety of formats including the 4k Ultra HD/Blu-ray/ Digital HD combo pack, which was reviewed. The 2160p transfer works best with the colors and is acceptable all around, just not stunning. The Blu-ray actually might work a little better for overall balance. The audio is more than up to the task, just not in a noteworthy way.
In keeping with the same old feel of the main feature, the special features continue that with perfunctory features starting with Cowabunga Batman! When Comic Book Worlds Collide (12:31), Fight Night in Gotham (18:06); and A Sneak Peek at Batman: Hush (9:18). That’s it no extra cartoons from either property or anything about their comic book meetings, which is a shame.