After speaking to some of the creatives behind ‘Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ during a press event, I got to experience the brand new DC-Animated film during the World Premiere at WonderCon 2019 this past weekend. And while the track record for DC Animated films may be a bit bumpy, with some far superior to others, and some we would rather forget (I’m looking at you ‘Batman and Harley Quinn’), this film definitely felt like one that the fans are going to be pretty happy about.
While screenwriter Marly Halpern-Graser and director Jake Castorena worked hard to stay as true to the source material as possible, they did not fall into the trap of sticking so close to the comic that the whole thing felt stilted, or that they were afraid to take certain creative licenses. For example, in the comics, there is a lot more of a sci-fi element in the fact that the Turtles and Batman come from different dimensions, and there is a lot of portal hopping and science going on that explains how all these characters are suddenly in this world together. In the movie, they opted to simply have the Turtles and Batman already exist in the same universe, with the Turtles simply visiting Gotham City from their home in New York, both of which exist in this continuity. And while this may sound strange, in the context of the movie, the whole thing works really well and causes little if any confusion or problems (as opposed to keeping all the inter-dimensional stuff which would have taken a lot of explanation).
All in all, the jokes are pretty solid (Michaelangelo in particular really carrying the comedic weight of the whole thing), the voice acting is on-point (especially from Troy Baker, who is the first voice-actor to portray both Batman and The Joker in the same DC Animated movie), and the action is pretty good (the director is particularly proud of the Shredder vs. Batman fights, one of which he story-boarded personally), even to the point where it might be a bit too violent for some kids (the film is rated “PG-13”) as you do see blood, not to mention some direct stab wounds and even a head being chopped off (though it happens off screen, you do see the head roll onto screen afterward).
Story wise, well, you’re not really watching for the “plot” of a movie like this, more about the action, character interactions, and the overall entertainment value, which I would say is all pretty high for ‘Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ The audience at WonderCon certainly seemed to enjoy the show, and while you might think that is an ideal audience, I’ve sat through a couple of DC Animated films at conventions and they do not always get the enthusiastic response from the fans that this one did.
Make sure to look for the film when it comes out on digital on May 14th and Blu-Ray on June 4th!