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Saturday, 28 May 2016

DVD Of The Week: Justice League Vs Teen Titans (2016)


As a long-time Teen Titans fan, the latest addition to the ever-growing animated DC Universe made me a very happy customer.

Justice League vs Teen Titans may only be 79 minutes long, but its frenetic pacing and ultra-tight script means there's a lot of story and character development squeezed into that running time.

There's even a brief mid-credits scene, presumably setting up a planned sequel, that gave me goosebumps, as it foreshadows a storyline from the comics that meant a lot to me when I read it for the first time.

Having disobeyed Batman during a Justice League tussle with the Legion Of Doom, Damian Wayne aka Robin (Stuart Allan) is 'exiled' to the Teen Titans to learn about teamwork.

Meanwhile, Trigon (Jon Bernthal aka The Punisher) - the demonic father of Teen Titan's member, Raven (American Horror Story's Taissa Farmiga) - is looking to conquer Earth by forcing his daughter to open a portal from his hell dimension to our world.

To distract the Titans while he does this and to generally aid his cause, Trigon sends his demons to possess members of the Justice League.

Justice League vs Teen Titans is simply fantastic, delivering everything from epic, straight-off-the-comic-book-page superhero-versus-supervillain fisticuffs to a beautifully evocative visit to Trigon's home dimension in the final act.

There was intriguing revelation in this latter sequence that possibly tied Damian's heritage - through Ra's Al Ghul - in to Trigon, but this was left delightfully ambiguous. Was it Raven's demonic father playing tricks with Batman's son or was he really facing the 'ghost' of his grandfather (Terrence 'T.C.' Carson)?

However, some of the most interesting character insights came from the small moments that saw the heroes in their civilian guises, such as Superman (Jerry O'Connell) doing his laundry or Starfire (Kari Wahlgren) taking the Titans to a funfair.

Character-wise, Damian has the best arc, growing organically from a total ass into genuine hero, while Raven's backstory - which drives the plot - is really well sketched out.

The humorous elements of the film primarily come from my old time spirit animal Garfield Logan aka Beast Boy (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series's Brandon Soo Hoo).

His wisecracking, irreverent comic book persona, from the Marv Wolfman/George Perez era of the New Teen Titans, helped shape the DNA of my own Acrobatic Flea character - in our Villains & Vigilantes games - probably even more than Spider-Man (the Flea's other great influence) at that time.

Stylistically, Justice League vs Teen Titans sticks to the visuals of the recent Justice League animated movies, and while they're not my favourite character designs (particularly Superman and Wonder Woman in their New 52 outfits), I welcome the continuity.

If I had to find fault with the film, though, it would be the odd decision to over-sexualise Starfire in weirdly inappropriate ways - such as her 'transformation' sequence that 'required' her to be naked and then saw elements of her costume erupting from her lady parts, and Starfire's earlier Skype conversation with Nightwing (Firefly's Sean Maher) when the laptop camera repeatedly zoomed in on her breasts!

This aside, the film is totally engrossing and has me very excited for the possible Teen Titans film that's hinted at in the final scene, although I wonder how the whole Rebirth event in the comics will impact the animated DC Universe (for example, the Superman seen here - who can be a bit of a dick, it must be said - is no longer the Superman of the comic book universe, having just been killed off, and his dumb Nehru collar costume, thankfully, retired).

The Blu-Ray also includes, as well as several other features and bonus cartoons, a great documentary about the comic book history of the Teen Titans.

This is the sort of extra you used to see all the time supporting superhero/comic book films and shows, but are sadly few and far between these days. So this was particularly welcome, especially as we got to hear Marv Wolfman - among others - talking about my favourite DC superteam, the Teen Titans.

2 comments:

  1. Why...oh why...oh why...is DC so good at this stuff as long as it's not headed for the big screen? I look forward to checking this one out. (Oh...and Starfire...it seems like her sexualization has become mandated characterization these days. I know there's some history for it but...yeah, give it a rest, DC.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember there was a hubbub about Starfire several years ago, presumably at the start of the New 52, but I'd kind of hoped they'd got over that by now. Clearly I was wrong ;-)

      Delete

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