Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Blu-ray) (2019)

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Released 5-Jun-2019

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Making Of-Cowabunga Batman! When Comic Book Worlds Collide
Featurette-Making Of-Fight Night in Gotham
Featurette-A Sneak Peak at Batman: Hush
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2019
Running Time 87:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jake Castorena
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Troy Baker
Eric Bauza
Darren Criss
Kyle Mooney
Baron Vaughn
Carlos Alazraqui
Cas Anvar
Rachel Bloom
John DiMaggio
Andrew Kishino
Ben Giroux
Tom Kenny
Jim Meskimen
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Kevin Riepl


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Spanish
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Post-credits scene

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    One of several standalone DC Comics animated movies released in 2019, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is based on the recent crossover comic-book miniseries created by James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II. Fun and fast-paced but not excessively flippant, the team-up of these recognisable animal-inspired icons is largely satisfying and surprisingly logical, emerging as one of the better animated DC titles in recent memory. Furthermore, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles verifies that the low-risk, budget animation format is ideal for obscure crossovers of this ilk. Hell, in comic books, Batman alone crosses over with Scooby-Doo, Power Rangers, Elmer Fudd, Predator, Alien, and even Captain America - now there are some ideas for future productions.

    Shredder (Andrew Kishino) and the Foot Clan arrive in Gotham City to join forces with Ra's al Ghul (Cas Anvar) and the League of Assassins, planning to steal experimental tech to assemble a machine for nefarious purposes. Leaving their New York City home to pursue Shredder, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Raphael (Darren Criss), Leonardo (Eric Bauza), Michelangelo (Kyle Mooney), and Donatello (Baron Vaughn) - soon encounter Bruce Wayne/Batman (Troy Baker), who is initially suspicious about their presence in Gotham. However, once Batman and the Turtles discover that they share a common goal, they team up, with Batgirl (Rachel Bloom) and Robin (Ben Giroux) also joining the fight. Meanwhile, Shredder breaches Arkham Asylum, promptly recruiting the likes of the Joker (Baker, again), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong) and Mr. Freeze (John DiMaggio) as he enacts his plan to release a dangerous mutagen over Gotham.

    The main attraction of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is seeing the lore of these two properties collide - the Turtles interact with (and fight) various Batman characters, the Turtles' van features in an action sequence, and Batman even exclaims "Cowabunga!". Screenwriter Marly Halpern-Graser could have called it a day on this premise alone, using a tenuous plot to string together a feature teeming with encounters and in-jokes like this, but such a movie would run out of steam after the novelty wears off. Thankfully, there is a bit more innovation at play, with a worthwhile story that goes beyond a bog-standard "destroy Gotham City" plot. It's not a groundbreaking narrative, nor does the movie exhibit the thematic significance of something like Batman: Under the Red Hood, but Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is more effective than anticipated, incorporating as many faces from Batman's rogue's gallery as possible. Running a lean 87 minutes, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wastes no time from the outset, diving straight into an action sequence as the Foot Clan stage a violent robbery at Powers Industrial. The resultant sense of brevity is welcome - it never feels as if director Jake Castorena is unnecessarily padding out the narrative to reach feature-length. Remarkably, too, the story does not feel short-changed or underdone either.

    Despite the gimmicky, goofy premise implying a fun ride suitable for children, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is unexpectedly hard-edged and adult, pushing the M rating to its boundaries. On-screen bloodshed is graphic, with throwing stars slicing heads open, a security guard being decapitated, and Scarecrow's (Jim Meskimen) fear toxin inciting some disturbing imagery for an M-rated animated movie. Also, the fights are brutal and furious to boot; Batman's throwdown with Shredder is a particular highlight, while the Turtles also do their fair share of fighting. The fight choreography is superb - Batman and the Turtles practice noticeably different styles of martial arts, which shows that the animators went to some real effort here. Admittedly, as ever, the animation remains relatively basic from a fine detail perspective, with the budgetary restrictions still evident to a certain degree, but the character designs are nevertheless cool, and the endeavour is appropriately stylised. Indeed, compositions are frequently compelling, and the animators make great use of shadows. Other fun touches also litter the frame, from a Superman mug on Batman's computer desk, to a classic Batcave design incorporating the iconic T-Rex statue. Additionally, the original score by DC animation veteran Kevin Riepl elevates the sense of excitement, plus the main title theme over the opening credits is, in a word, badass.

    Even though Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is unexpectedly dark at times, the titular Turtles are as jovial and wisecracking as ever, and maintain their longstanding love for pizza. The highlight is Mooney as Michelangelo, who's mischievous and overexcited, and even makes a meta observation about the blimps flying over Gotham for no discernible reason. Plus, in another moment, Mikey jokingly tells The Penguin's (Tom Kenny) henchmen that they're aliens, a knowing wink to the fan backlash to Michael Bay initially announcing that the Turtles would be aliens in the live-action 2014 TMNT reboot. It's this type of humorous, self-aware interplay which elevates the picture, making it feel smart and fresh. Meanwhile, Baker is terrific, and is actually the first actor to do the double duty of voicing both Batman and Joker in the same feature. Baker's Batman is reminiscent of the imitable Kevin Conroy, but it doesn't sound like a poor imitation, while his Joker (a role he played in several video games) is likewise distinctive and effective. Another fine addition is Tara Strong, a DC animation veteran who's right at home playing Harley Quinn.

    Without reinventing the wheel, radically changing up the formula, or delivering any emotional resonance, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a highly entertaining addition to the DC comics animated canon. There's an effective dynamic between Batman and the Turtles, while it's a thrill watching Batman fight Shredder, and Leonardo battling Ra's al Ghul. Stylish and confidently assembled, this is a more interesting feature than its gimmicky premise and title implies. This team-up could have made for a great live-action blockbuster, but that's not to impugn the work of the filmmakers here, who are fans of both properties and worked to deliver colourful action sequences as well as some tongue-in-cheek humour. With a post-credits stinger, room is left wide open for a sequel, assuming the movie sells well enough on home video.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment, who squeeze the 87-minute feature film onto a single-layered BD-25, resulting in a meagre average bitrate of just under 21 Mbps. Nevertheless, this 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is pretty good on the whole, remaining watchable and only occasionally exhibiting noticeable compression artefacts. However, there are limitations to the encoding due to the severe compression, as well as the shortcomings of 1080p. Most notably, banding is unsurprisingly evident from time to time, particularly in backgrounds and smoke. It's not especially problematic, but it is still disappointing that the encoding team still haven't been able to overcome this type of shortcoming more than a decade after animated DC movies started coming to Blu-ray. In addition, the linework is not always as crisp as it should be, with minor aliasing and softness, especially when the video bitrate plummets. I was unable to detect any macroblocking or crush, but the aforementioned compression issues make this Blu-ray look more like a streaming version.

    The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, meaning that the image fills an entire widescreen television, which should please those who are averse to black bars when watching movies in scope. The animation of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is relatively basic, but there is complexity in terms of shadows, and the encode handles it capably without losing much in the way of shadow detail. The colours do hold up well despite the limited colour space of 1080p, with the Turtles' coloured headbands standing out in darkness and through smoke during the opening sequence, while primaries are strong on characters like Joker. Additionally, aside from the moments when the linework has problems, the transfer is relatively sharp for the most part, with pleasing object delineation as to be expected from an animated title. Less discerning viewers probably won't have any issues with this Blu-ray, but videophiles will definitely want to pick up the superior 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

    English subtitles (for the hearing impaired) are available, in addition to several other subtitle options. I had no issues with the English track.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    To complement the 1080p video presentation, we have a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The disc also contains lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in French, German and Spanish, but I concentrated on the English track for the purposes of this review. Thanks to the lossless encoding, the audio is crystal clear, and there are no issues with clarity, nor are there any encoding anomalies - no clicking, popping, hissing, sync issues, or anything else. The only drawback with this track is the lack of real surround sound activity - it sounds more like a glorified 2.0 stereo track. No matter the placement of the characters, dialogue exclusively comes through the front speakers, while the rear channels are scarcely engaged - in fact, music and ambience rarely comes from the rear, making the experience feel oddly claustrophobic as opposed to immersive. I'm not sure if this is a shortcoming with the encoding or the mixing, but the track fails to take advantage of the possibilities of a 5.1 soundscape.

    With that said, though, the track is otherwise excellent. Spot-on prioritisation ensures dialogue is always comprehensible amid the music and sound effects, and the dialogue is always extremely clean, as to be expected since everything was recorded in studio sound booths. The sound effects during the action scenes are also incredible, from the clangs of the swords and daggers, to the loud gunshot sounds, as well as punches and kicks - everything is impactful, with astute subwoofer activity and some effective low-frequency effects. Kevin Riepl's original score is also clear and impactful. It's a shame that this track neglects the surround channels, but this is otherwise a pristine and mostly satisfying track on the whole, particularly during the frequent action set-pieces.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Three featurettes, totalling forty minutes of additional content. It's nice to see something this substantive for an animated DC movie. I wish there was a commentary to top things off, but I'm happy with what's included.

Cowabunga Batman! When Comic Book Worlds Collide (HD; 12:31)

    Essentially a "making-of" featurette, this first extra looks at the development and writing of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, containing interviews with a variety of cast and crew members. Topics include the characteristics of the individual franchises, the idea of uniting them, scripting the movie, how to approach the crossover premise, taking elements from the comic-book miniseries on which it's based, and more. There's genuine substance and insight here, though it goes heavy on the film clips.

Fight Night in Gotham (HD; 18:06)

    An extension of the previous extra, this featurette concentrates on the action sequences and fight choreography of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The same variety of participants return, who emphasise the importance of making the fights interesting. The interviewees also discuss their inspirations - the Shaw Brothers, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, The Raid movies, etc. Again, there's great insight into the process of making one of these animated movies, with Marly Halpern-Graser even revealing that his script did not contain anything in the way of action choreography - the animators took over on that front, adding many cool moments (including Leonardo kicking Ra's in the crotch, and the mutated Tyrannosaurus Rex, neither of which were in the script). The featurette also looks at the use of vehicles, and discusses changing up the fighting styles for each character. There are some terrific breakdowns of certain fights - this gave me a newfound appreciation of the effort put into the making of the movie.

A Sneak Peek at DC's Next Animated Movie, Batman: Hush (HD; 9:18)

    And finally, we have a nine-minute sneak peek at Batman: Hush, which is now available to purchase on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K. This featurette looks at the legacy of the book, and how the creative team approached the adaptation. Many cast and crew members are interviewed here.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Warner Bros. Blu-ray released in the United States contains the same supplemental material. It's a draw, buy local.

Summary

    Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the better DC Comics animated movies, verifying that the brand is still alive and well. With the live-action movies receiving a huge rethink, it's great that DC animation can still be relied upon to create quality content.

    On Blu-ray, the movie looks and sounds very good, with some minor caveats. The extras, meanwhile, are worthwhile and insightful. Especially if you're a fan of DC animation, this is a smart buy (unless you're 4K-compatible). Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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