Two of my favourite cartoons, from the eighties and nineties, join forces in one of the most unlikely crossovers I have ever seen. Based off a six issue comic book, Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pits the titular heroes against Ra’s al Ghul and the Shredder. Early on in the film it is established that the League of Assassins and Foot Clan have formed an alliance. Ra’s al Ghul’s assassins wish to destroy crime infested Gotham City, in order to rebuild it anew. To execute this objective they plan to turn Gotham’s citizens into wild beasts, by using the mutagen Shredder’s Foot Clan possesses. In exchange Shredder will be compensated with an immortality granting Lazarus Pit.
As the movie’s title suggests, the Dark Knight and the pizza loving ninjitsu reptiles clash when they first meet. The turtles have travelled to Gotham, a city where blimps are all the rage, with the aim of foiling Shredder’s scheme. Unfortunately for them they get mistaken for the Foot Clan, who stole a generator from Wayne Enterprises in the film’s opening scene. Batman battles with the wrongly accused Turtles, although they do eventually form a truce, once the misunderstanding is cleared up. Batman, aided by Batgirl and his son Robin, agree to work with the Turtles to take down their mutual enemies. Saving the city of Gotham won’t be easy though. Apart from tracking down the aforementioned villains, they will also have to contend with various rogues who have escaped from Arkham Prison.
It was fun to see the Ninja Turtles in action, after all these years. The last time I saw a TMNT cartoon was the excellent Turtles Forever movie, which aired a decade ago. What I like about this rendition of the characters is that they each have a distinct look. Back in the day viewers could only tell them apart by their weapon of choice and mask colour. Out of the quartet I would have to say that Michelangelo steals the show, as the script blesses him with the funniest lines. Aside from delivering quips the Turtles know how to kick arse. The fights between them and the Foot Clan are excellent, as was the martial arts duel that Batman has with Shredder. There is a ton of action in this 84 minute flick, with the best fights happening early on. I thought the final showdown was an example of quantity over quality. Not bad, but a little too wacky for my taste and at times the fights get undercut by goofy comedy.
My rating for Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is four stars. I would class this as an animated feature that will appeal to audiences of all ages. Adult viewers, who grew up with the old shows, will dig the various references and Easter Eggs. On the flip side, the gags and cartoony visuals should go down well with the younger crowd. Some people may dislike the movie’s art style, but I personally thought it had more charm than the darker/more bland looking DC Universe movies that have come out lately. At the very least I would say that the cartoony character designs don’t mean that this movie is exclusively for kids. Heck, I would caution against showing the film to the very young, as it can get quite violent at times. Some moments that come to mind include a decapitation and a whack that leaves someone with a bloody face.
One final thing that is worth mentioning is the solid voice acting. Troy Baker in particular deserves praise as he plays both Batman and the Joker. I wonder if he gets two pay cheques for that? Baker “kneads” the money, as he is the “breadwinner” in his family.