How have I not talked about Batman yet (looks at all the Adam West Batman episodes). Well mainly cause how do I fit them into place, I don’t have any of the Arkham games so can’t review them, none of the old ones were anything to talk about. There was the Adam West Batman movie, could stretch that into sci fi as it did have technology that doesn’t exist. But wait, there is a Japanese animated movie starring the Batman, yes that will do. (or could wait till next month and review what ever I want involving him).
Batman Ninja is a Japanese animated movie starring the Dark Knight. DC have released many stand alone DC animated movies, and basically all of them have been better than the DC cinematic failure, but also most of them have had Batman (because even in animated form, DC is afraid to use their other characters, please be good Aquaman your’re awesome and we want people to actually read the comics so they know that image in their heads is completely wrong)
The premise is somewhat unusual, Gorilla Grodd (flash villain) creates a time machine and sent everyone in the facility of Arkham Asylum back in time to feudal Japan, by everyone I mean the Joker and Harley Quinn (thankfully not dressed like a slut this time) Poison Ivy,the Penguin, Two Face, the extended Bat family that aren’t female, Catwoman and oddly Deathstroke (also known as SLADE! and not a Batman villain). Now I went into this thinking that ooh it will be Batman doing his Batman stuff in feudal Japan walking on roof tops ninja like and… NOPE.
Batman arrives 2 years after everyone else and the bad guys have taken over during the Sengoku period (look it up) and now fighting for dominance, each with a feudal Japan era look to them now (like Poison Ivy’s) and building their own mobile castles (cause even though its set in feudal Japan we have to have giant robots). The story has a few twists and turns but nothing you probably can’t be too surprised at. The problem is despite all the characters getting some great redesigns, other than Grodd, the Joker and Harley none of the villains really do anything, we don’t even get proper fights for them, which makes bringing Deathstroke in really odd. He’s not a Batman villain yet is a master of combat and we never see him do any of that… Why not use the Riddler? or Mr Freeze? Batman has the best rogues gallery of any hero (Spiderman comes second) yet Deathstroke seems really wasted in a film he shouldn’t have been in.
There is a striking moment near the middle of the film where a whole different art style is used to great effect. It’s a real stand out moment that has a whole different tone to the rest of the film and that different animation really helps it sink into your memory.
The thing I’m mainly disappointed with is, yeah not much ninja-ing going on in Batman Ninja. It’s not Batman having to learn the way of the ninja to adapt to a new environment with different challenges (though that is kind of there, but it’s played down) as the villain plan goes outright insane and fails to utilize the setting to its full potential, really feeling this could have been done in almost any setting (really, giant robots?)
That’s not to say I didn’t like it, the fight scenes do play out like a mix of comic books and feudal Japan sword fights which did work, the final battle against the Joker did feel properly like a mix of Batman in feudal Japan and it understood the characters a lot more than the live action movies do (well technically not Harley Quinn as she in the comics has left the Joker and is more an anti hero now, also involved with Poison Ivy, yes in that way) And as mentioned I do like the designs they gave the characters. It feels like a fun stand alone Batman adventure, just felt they could have done more with how they utilized the characters and setting.