Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fun Action Flick with Anime Sensibilities

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Batman vs TMNT Blu-ray

When high tech thefts occur in Gotham City, pulled off by stealthy ninjas, eyewitness accounts place a team of metahumans at the scene of the crime; "lizard men" Batgirl (RACHEL BLOOM) calls them. But these are not lizards. They are a quartet of terrapins, previously exposed just over a decade ago, to a DNA-altering substance that changed them into anthropomorphic creatures who were trained from an early age in the ancient Japanese martial arts. Yes, they are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they've come to Gotham City from New York hot on the trail of the evil Shredder and his minions, the Foot Clan.

However, if you're expecting this animated movie to be the light-hearted fare you came to know from the cartoon versions of these heroes in a half-shell, you may be surprised at just how dark the tone can be here in places. Yes, there are teenaged hijinks, and yes there is plenty of pizza and "Cowabunga." But there are also stabbings and visible beheadings, which may have you second-guessing what you've sat down to watch.

After the inevitable trope of two heroes meeting and fighting right off the bat (no pun intended), the Turtles track Batman (TROY BAKER) back to the Batcave, forming an unsteady alliance with him and Batgirl and Robin (BEN GIROUX). What they learn together is that Shredder (ANDREW KISHINO) has brought the mutagenic "ooze" with him to Gotham, where he is teaming up wtih Batman's long-time enemy, Ra's al Ghul (CAS ANVAR). The technology that is being stolen is to build a machine that would distribute the mutagen through the air over Gotham, mutating the populace into creatures that would then destroy the city.

But there's a component missing--something that would also drive the victims into an insane frenzy of destruction: Joker venom. Prepare for a battle at Arkham Asylum against the Rogues Gallery, all of whom have been mutated into new forms.

BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is not an anime, but it certainly owes much of its production to anime sensibilities with the framing of certain action sequences. And while the animation is not the Bruce Timm variety, the action plays out against a decidedly Timm-verse backdrop, complete with a sky full of dirigibles.

You'll also want to stick around for the after credits scene, which clearly serves as an introduction to a sequel. But don't fast-forward the credits to get there: the credits themselves are filled with classic Batman / TMNT comic book covers that never existed, but should because I want all of them, and you will too.

Baker voices both Batman and Joker in this film, the first time I believe this has ever been done in a Batman film. The action, as mentioned previously, is dark and intense, but peppered with Turtles-style levity, even from Robin on rare occasions (and from Batman in one extremely rare instance).

So come join Leonardo (ERIC BAUZA), Raphael (DARREN CRISS), Michelangelo (KYLE MOONEY) and Donatello (BARON VAUGHN) as they leap shell-first into action with the Dark Knight in what is one of the better DCAU films in recent memory.

BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is out today on Blu-ray and Digital.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0