Film Review: Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly what it sounds like, and while I can’t see it doing much for anyone who isn’t interested in watching the worlds of the Dark Knight and the Heroes in a Half-Shell collide, it’s exactly what I was hoping for and definitely worth checking out for more open-minded fans of Batman or the Turtles.

The story starts out like a standard, predictable “superhero vs superhero” movie (good guys see each other, good guys fight, good guys realize they’re on the same side and team up to take down the bad guys), but Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a few surprises hidden up its sleeve and speeds through the good guy vs good guy part. That allows for more time for the Turtles and the Bat family to bond, and make fun of each other, which are the best parts of the movie. Whether it’s Batgirl and Donatello discussing proper science labels or online names, Batman giving advice to Leonardo, or Michelangelo doing pretty much anything with anybody, I was constantly enjoying myself once the two families started their team-up.

The main reason why this alliance works so well is the vocal talent and comedic timing behind the characters. Eric Bauza, Darren Criss, Baron Vaughn, Rachel Bloom, and Ben Giroux are all terrific as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, Batgirl, and Robin respectively, giving some of the best, funniest performances I’ve seen/heard in a DC animated film in years. Each of them gets more than a few times to shine, and a couple of lines that made me laugh out loud. Then there’s the always incredible Troy Baker, pulling double duty as Batman and a surprise character (and killing it as both), and Kyle Mooney as the best Michelangelo I’ve ever seen hands down, not to mention one of the funniest characters in any movie this year. The villains all have strong voice actors behind them too, but I don’t want to spoil who may or may not show up from the heroes’ rogues.

Just as hard-hitting as the laughs in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are… Well, the actual hits. For a movie that was produced in part by Nickelodeon, it is surprisingly graphic. The combat is done well and a blast to watch, but several brutal beatdowns, a few broken bones, an impaling, a shuriken to the face, a beheading, and a particularly grim vision all push the PG-13 rating and would caution me from recommending it to younger audiences.

All of this combines into a consistently entertaining superhero romp that’s full of action, laughs, and a genuinely great team-up of two of the most unlikely comic book groupings. I’m definitely bummed that Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn’t a part of the DC Animated Movie Universe canon because I’d love to see the radical reptiles work with the rest of the Justice League, but I’ll still gladly take the sequel it sets up in the post-credit scene.

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