Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (4K Blu-ray) (2019)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 5-Jun-2019

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2019
Running Time 87:01
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 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 $29.95 Music Kevin Riepl


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    At first glance, there probably doesn't seem like much use in releasing DC animated titles on 4K Blu-ray, given the relatively low-budget animation and the fact that none of the movies are actually finished at 4K resolution. But Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks pretty d*** great in 2160p resolution, thanks to the improved HEVC/H.265 encode, a superior video bitrate, and the application of High Dynamic Range. Retaining the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and with the 87-minute feature receiving a whole BD-66 to itself (without tonnes of foreign audio tracks taking up space), I was instantly impressed with this transfer from the first frame, and it surpassed all of my expectations with confidence. Thanks to the generous amount of disc space, the video bitrate regularly spikes to as high as 95 Mbps, a number that kicks the crap out of the 1080p Blu-ray, which looks even more inadequate in comparison. As ever, the 4K Blu-ray was authored and encoded by Warner Bros. overseas, and the discs were supplied to Roadshow.

    First things first, there is virtually no additional fine detail for the 4K encode to resolve, which might dissuade some buyers. However, the big attraction of this 4K disc is the complete elimination of video artefacts and encoding problems. All banding from the Blu-ray is gone, and instead, the animation looks gorgeously pristine from start to finish. Likewise, sharpness is improved across the board, with linework looking crisper, and no evidence of aliasing or ringing. The animation is fast-paced at times during the quick-moving action sequences, and it's all smooth smoothing, with no unsightly macroblocking or pixellation to spoil the experience. The presentation also looks better in darkness, with linework remaining sharp and defined. Warner's encoding is simply flawless in this respect.

    The other main attraction of this 4K disc is the High Dynamic Range grade, which is more impressive than anticipated. The transfer's HDR grade is encoded in HDR10 as opposed to Dolby Vision, though the streaming version on iTunes does offer Dolby Vision, for those interested. Even the animated DC Comics opener looks much improved here, with the HDR effortlessly bringing out bolder colours on the superhero costumes, in addition to resolving better highlights. When the movie proper begins, the improvements to contrast and brightness are tremendous, with the presentation looking more balanced and pleasing. Colours are noticeably bolder, truer, and more vibrant - for example, the Turtles' bandanas stand out more in darkness, Penguin's henchmen look more colourful, and the villains in Arkham Asylum leap off the screen. Muzzle flashes and even sparks during welding (during a brief shot at the 18-minute mark) are more impactful. Foot Clan eyes also seem to glow in the darkness, while Batgirl's white eyes while in costume also look bolder. Highlights are improved on backgrounds, some of which are nicely textured - for instance, the dark Gotham sky, and textures on buildings. Even the Batmobile's headlights, which look so harsh on the 1080p Blu-ray, receive more specular detail here, thanks to the HDR.

    I wouldn't say 4K is exactly essential for DC animated titles, but given the studio's long history of appalling compression and video artefacts, 4K discs are welcome and I'll continue to buy them. Plus, the HDR grade does wonderful things for the colours and shadows. It's encouraging to see these kinds of improvements, and it's likewise encouraging to see Roadshow releasing these 4K discs on the local market. I still wish that some aspects of the animation could be improved, as such advancements would translate better to 4K UHD, but this disc is definitely the best way to experience Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at home. It's worth the higher price tag.

    Subtitles are included in English (for the hearing impaired) and French. 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 4K video presentation, we have a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, which is exactly the same as the track included on the standard Blu-ray. 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. The only time I actually noticed surround activity was at the 56-minute mark, when the mutated Batman screeches come from the rear speakers. 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

    No extras are on the 4K disc. However, the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray comes with three video extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is the same 4K disc released in North America by Warner Brothers. Plus, extras on the regular Blu-ray are the same. 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.

    The 2160p video transfer is a vast improvement over the regular Blu-ray, looking more refined and featuring a superior colour palette. The audio track, meanwhile, is the same as the Blu-ray, without much surround activity. Throw in the standard Blu-ray with its selection of special features, and this one comes recommended. If the premise appeals to you, it's worth the blind buy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, January 16, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE