When the Turtles met the Bat – here’s our review.
Director: Jake Costorena
Cast: Troy Baker, Eric Bauza, Darren Criss, Kyle Mooney, Baron Vaughn
Release date: Out now (digital release)
Reviewer: Matt Edwards
Oh, we really like this. Suspicious technology thefts in Gotham were always going to attract the attention of the caped crusader. Trailing the villainous Foot Clan from New York (the nefarious ninjas are involved in the thefts), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are on the case too. But when a team of vigilantes dressed as bats and birds stumble across a clan of mutant ninja reptiles, it becomes difficult to work out who’s on whose side. Can they put their differences aside in order to stop a diabolical plot to destroy Gotham City?
From the murky sets of Gotham to the jaw-busting fight sequences, Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is, with a few exceptions (driving sequences and some mutant character designs don’t quite work for this writer), a wonderfully animated cartoon feature. Director Jake Costorena and writer Marly Halpern-Graser (leaning into the comic crossover by James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II) have brought this unlikely crossover to life by having a firm grip on the characters and the world the film is set in. It’s packed with smart jokes and references that exploit the quirks of both Batman and Ninja Turtles without feeling like they’re just lazily pointing out the absurdity of the setup.
They exhibit an understanding of the material that has eluded the likes of Michael Bay and Zack Snyder in recent cinematic outings for the franchises. Having gotten the characters right (with an excellently assembled voice cast to boot), it’s as simple as splitting them up into groups and bouncing them off each other. The characters conflict or complement each other in endlessly amusing and entertaining ways. It’s a film packed with guffaw-inducing gags and exciting action sequences (some of which may be a bit full on for younger viewers). It also features some striking visual flourishes (the opening and closing credits are absolutely inspired).
Much of its success comes from having found the right tone, falling somewhere between Batman: The Animated Series and the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Everything feels well balanced, the film never becoming too morose or wacky, never overaccelerating its pace nor slowing down too much.
A treat for fans of both franchises and an animated action feature that’s likely to impress curious viewers too, Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an absolute joy.