REVIEW – Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)

Just released last week here in Australia, two of my long-time favourites come together in this DC animated movie on DVD and blu-ray and overall it’s a lot of fun and an excellent mashing of the two worlds.

The Ninja Turtles find themselves in Gotham City following Shredder and his Foot Clan as they steal technology for their new business partner. Batman intervenes and after a case of mistaken identity, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl team up with their new mutant friends to stop The Foot before they and their mysterious ally can enact their plan to destroy Gotham.

Now I must admit it took me a while to even bother with the comic series this movie is based on for reasons I won’t get into here. But I did finally read the trade paperback the other month (after finding a cheap copy) and as much as I enjoyed it I think the TPB format highlighted some of the flaws with how little build up there was as well as being one step too convoluted.

The animated movie isn’t a direct adaptation, it has most of the story beats and basic premise but with significant changes to the plot that improves on the original, streamlining it as a single coherent narrative. However there is such as thing as too much trimming so a few subtractions take things a step back (no Splinter, implying they exist in the same universe instead of alternate dimensions for example) preventing the movie from being truly great in my opinion.

So it feels less epic in scope by a matter of degrees even if the more problematic aspects of the original comic have been avoided.

I don’t mind the art style although, even with the dark visual tones, it’s somewhat deceptive in putting you in a PG sensibility then all of a sudden there’s a stream of blood or a body part being severed. It’s quite jarring when these things happen because again the art style (and script) make you forget it’s rather brutal and rated “Mature”.

Most of the voice acting is well done with Troy Baker doing double duty as both Batman and The Joker, with the former being more than a little reminiscent of Kevin Conroy’s dulcet tones. Everyone else sounds great and right to the characters but for some reason Rachel Bloom as Batgirl doesn’t quite click for me. She isn’t bad but I can’t figure out what’s bothering me about that performance.

I did enjoy how each of the characters were paired off as they eventually teamed up. The pairings made sense even the clashing of Michelangelo and Alfred. The two families/teams work so well together.

Most of the jokes landed and are really funny, the action scenes were fantastic, and the brutality was kept at an appropriate minimum. There are plenty of “hell yeah” moments to be had too and the writers of this adaptation know just what fans of either franchise wanted to see.

As mentioned before, the changes from the comic have improved the flow of the story as well as its build up but the subtractions also prevent it from being over-the-top amazing and epic like it had the potential to be. Although I will concede that may be more a case of personal taste.

And there’s nothing wrong with that because this is overall a fun and great adventure and definitely worth the purchase for any fan of the Dark Knight or the Heroes in a Half Shell.

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