Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019): A Worthy Adaptation of the Comic

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This was a solid adaptation of the comic. The comic is better, but this was DC Animation showing that they know what to do with their stories. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman teaming up is such a camp concept and I have so much joy over the fact that the concept works. Comics are so supposed to be creative and think outside of the box and the comic and film both do this.

The film was directed by Jake Castoreno and written by Marly Halpern-Graser.

The story follows Batman as he investigates mysterious robberies of Wayne Industries Technology by mutant beings. Batman than investigates congruently with Batgirl and Robin to unravel the mystery.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – The action in this film is quite enjoyable. We get some good face-offs with characters and who they team up with. For example at one point we have Michelangelo loving Mr. Freeze while Damian is more serious, Batgirl and Donatello team up and Leonardo and Batman. We also get to see Batman face off against Shredder a few times and the team against Joker and Harley Quinn. This was easily the thing that kept me drawn into the movie the most and I’m glad the action meant something.

The World – This is the multi-verse world where the Shredder and his Foot Clan are in Gotham stealing technology and where Batman where Batgirl as Barbara Gordon and a Damian Robin are Batman’s team. It is a fascinating place to explore as from the team-up you expect a more grittier era but the world is balanced because there exist mutant turtles hunting down an evil ninja clan. Gotham and the world of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” work really together and I think that is due to both having gritty initial roots but having so much camp and crazy exist as well. This whole idea wouldn’t exist without being open to possibilities.

The Turtles – The Turtles are great and aren’t overused. Donatello forms a friendship with Batgirl, Raphael forms a friendship with Robin and a respect for Batman and Michelangelo grows into a greater hero with Batman’s help. The dynamic between them is classic with Raphael wanting to go rogue and I do love this version of Donatello, which plays up his smarts. Michelangelo even has moments of heroism and is the key to the story, which is rare in most “TMNT” stories I’ve watched.

Batman and Team – Troy Baker does an excellent job voicing both Batman and the Joker in this. He’s voiced the Joker before in “Arkham Origins” and this film really shows just how much range he has. The Batman is the perspective we first see and in a way they drive the story as the action largely takes place in Gotham.

The Ooze and Gotham – The Ooze is used after Ra’s al Ghul and Shredder team up and the inmates of Arkham Asylum are transformed into animal forms. We have Baine as a Jaguar, Mr. Freeze as a Polar Bear, Scarecrow as a crow, Harley as a Hyena (Voiced by the amazing Tara Strong!) and the Joker as a Cobra. In the comics there are more rogues transformed (also honorable mentions to Two-Face as Two-Faced cat and Poison Ivy as a Venus Fly Trap) but the core fights are the ones mentioned first. The ooze drives the story (as it is what turned the turtles into mutants) and at one point Batman is changed into a mutant bat that is against all things. It is only Michelangelo who saves him with the cure. This whole sequence was solid action and I liked that Batman needed help and also the fact it was the most underrated Ninja Turtle helped. Michelangelo saves Batman after he is transformed. It was a moment you rarely see in most Turtle films as Mikey is usually there only for comedic relief. Also major props to Troy Baker for voicing both Batman and the Joker beautifully.

Shredder – Shredder is really the guy in charge this time around. Ra’s al Ghul does ally with him and uses infecting the inmates of Gotham as a distraction but Shredder double crosses him and admits he plans to invade this universe and conquer it with his Foot Clan. He never stops being a threat and Batman is fought to a draw with him quite a few times before he is finally beat. The cool thing is his story doesn’t end there as the Ooze mixed with Joker Venom infects him and he transforms into Joker Shredder setting up a sequel. Giving they did this it better payoff.

Okay:

The Animation – The animation flows but you can also see how it is working with a budget. The comic has a level of detail that this animated feature simply does not have. It isn’t bad animation but the simplification hurts when the turtles are on screen as they feel less realized than the detail that was put into any human character on screen. Again, it wasn’t bad but I cannot put it as a pro.

Ra’s al Ghul – Ra’s al Ghul is not as compelling as the Shredder in this. The biggest reason is he is introduced late and we never have any worthy face-offs with Batman. In the first volume of the comic was far more compelling and essential. I like him facing off against Michelangelo but he never becomes a great villain. If anything he would have fit sticking around to fight in Arkham Asylum as it would have made him facing off against Damian and Batman mean more and give more power to Shredder’s inevitable betrayal.

The Cons:

Not A Complete Story – Volume 1 of “Batman vs. TMNT” was a complete story that did not need a sequel. This one is setting up a sequel, which is cool but I’ve seen enough shows and films crash and burn to know how arrogant that is. I loved that Shredder transformed but I hate the assumption that there will be a sequel when that is never a given.

If you like DC Animation, of which I am a fan this is a film well worth your time. It isn’t as great as the comic which I’d argue is a near perfect adaptation of the premise. This is film with decent animation and action with a compelling overall story. It i is overall faithful to the original comic while focusing in on the core fights. Initially this did annoy me but I like how it lead to the bonds forming between Batgirl, Robin and the Turtles. This is also an acquired taste. For me it was solidly good cause I like both of these universes, but for others it might be a bit more out of the bag. Regardless this film was so much fun.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Solid adaptation that could have been great.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time – A Gonzo Type Adventure Brawler Through Time

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   “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time” is the most bizarre side scroller game I’ve beat since the “Metal Slug” series. Like the TMNT Franchise there are enemies that are all over the map in themes and the fact that the turtles are fighting them through time makes it even more crazy. Suffice to say I enjoyed this a lot. This is my first time playing the Arcade version all the way through and I’m glad I got to do so with a friend.

     The story is insane as it involves Shredder stealing the Statue of Liberty (really) and when the Turtles try to stop him he sends them back in time to face his minions through time and space.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is insane and gonzo and very much captures the world of TMNT which came around out of a satire of Frank Miller and American comics obsession with Ninjas and Samurai. The 80’s show almost satires that and this is that same world with some sadly annoying 90’s “Cool Kids” vibes. The Turtles are the most annoying part of this game…but their villains are fantastic and even the Turtles have some redeeming aspects.

The World – The world is amazing! You fight in “Modern” times (90’s in the game), ancient times, the old west, the future and eventually Krang twice…each level is unique and the style of gameplay for each level even varies. You can also fall and die, which reminded me of Battletoads. This game was challenging at times because of how the world was designed.

The Levels – The levels are unique and a lot of fun and the Bosses give a level of flavor to each level that “X-Men” never did. Where that game most areas were copies of one another with harder bosses, this one changed setting and how you had to fight…you would fly on skateboards in the future to fighting on a train in the old west. They put effort into making each level mean something.

The Gameplay – The gameplay is great. I’m a Donatello player as I like range fighting and he’s my favorite of the Turtles and you have a bunch of ways to fight enemies so you don’t get flanked as easily as you get flanked in “X-Men.” Gameplay this is superior though “X-Men” has more friends who can play.

The Bosses – The bosses are fantastic! Baxter Stockman is the first fight and Fly Guy is a tough fight so when you beat him it is rewarding. Tokka and Rahzar were great from the “TMNT2: Secret of the Ooze” and the and the comics were great too and took a while to beat, as was Leatherhead and Krang. Krang you fight in 2 forms and Shredder has a one hit kill that will end one of our lives. So the bosses in this are overall great.

Okay/Pro: The Turtles – Annoying puns (and I like puns) and 90’s “cool” isn’t my thing. I liked the Turtles in their first film and the more 2000’s Turtles since they had distinct personalities and hadn’t been Michael Bayed.  I should check out the current 3D Turtles too, even if just for curiosity’s sake.

The Venue – The venue has some games that steals quarters and the bar isn’t open until 5pm and and is cash only…so those were all cons against it. Being there with 2 of my friends and beating a game there and the fact that they have 2 levels of games are a plus. Come here if in Portland, but seriously check out Salem’s “Coin Jam” if you can.

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The Ending – They get the Statue of Liberty back and credits roll. It was more rewarding than playing it over again with “X-Men.” Given how long my friend and I were playing this was great and the story actually ended.

The Cons: The Chapter Titles – Horrible puns and I like doing puns. This game made me understand why my partner and some other friends hate puns. One can only take so much if they aren’t good….

    This was an awesome experience and I’d say that the TMNT games on the SNES are just as good. This was so much fun to play through with a friend who like a brother. TMNT was gonzo level fun with a level of randomness to the levels and humor given that Shredder stole the Statue of Liberty just to laugh at the Turtles. They clearly had fun making this game so if you have up to 4 friends, check this game out where you can.

Final Score: 8.3 / 10

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