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Review: Batman Ninja – “Visually stunning”

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Batman has had many adventures through the years. Some have been very dark, some have been fun and some have been downright weird! Batman Ninja is the latest DC animated movie and it falls into the latter category. The best way of describing it would be as a glorious mess.

The basic plot sees Batman and his crew tracking down Gorilla Grodd and many other villains as they test out Grodd’s new time machine but things go wrong. This is the official synopsis:

Batman Ninja takes a journey across the ages as Gorilla Grodd’s time displacement machine transports many of Batman’s worst enemies to feudal Japan – along with the Dark Knight and a few of his allies. The villains take over the forms of the feudal lords that rule the divided land, with the Joker taking the lead among the warring factions. As his traditional high-tech weaponry is exhausted almost immediately, Batman must rely on his intellect and his allies – including Catwoman and the extended Bat-family – to restore order to the land, and return to present-day Gotham City.

As you would expect it follows the anime style of design and animation. First of all the design work is absolutely gorgeous and the whole film is visually stunning. All the characters have been reimagined for their time in feudal Japan and you keep waiting to see the next character to show up just to see what they will look like. The animation is also great with some brilliant fight scenes and moments of classic anime action.

However, the actual story is all a bit of a mess and just doesn’t seem to flow. It is almost like they designed the characters and then thought we should make a movie based on them. The tale is all over the place and just goes from one set piece to the next. I know you have to suspend your disbelief when watching something like this, but it really pushes that to the limit. From Bruce Wayne going undercover as a monk, but with the Bat Symbol on his tonsure, to the big Mecha-Joker that appears Transformer style from a building, you spend a lot of time going “what the hell is happening.”

It is a visual trip, but hard to care about the events on screen. I feel it may have worked better as a total Elseworlds tale with it all set in feudal Japan and have all the characters be born there.

I feel the best way to watch the film would be to turn down the sound and put on a cool thumping soundtrack of your own choice. Then just sit back and fall into the incredible designs and visuals.

BATMAN NINJA is out on Digital Download now and available on Blu-ray™ Steelbook, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 14.

The Blu-ray comes with the original Japanese audio along with the US dubbed version.

Extras

“East / West Batman” (Featurette) – Batman meets the anime medium, as this documentary looks into some of the Western tropes and archetypes, meshed into the world of feudal Japan. East meets West, swords, samurai and giant robots, all playing into the clash between Batman and his Rogues gallery.

“Batman: Made in Japan” (Featurette) – To make a special film about Batman requires just the right artist to bring the mix of style and energy that is unmistakably anime. The filmmakers discuss the Japanese character models, influences and design create a fusion experience into this hyper-real world.

“New York Comic Con Presents Batman Ninja” – Meet the talented filmmakers behind Batman Ninja as they discuss their inspirations and challenges in bringing an anime version of Batman to life during a panel discussion unveiling Batman Ninja during New York Comic Con 2017.

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