Batman Ninja has been a greatly anticipated film here in America with its VOD release this week. Soon it will be arriving via Blu-ray disc with an NYC premiere at The Directors Guild of America premiere May 1st. We watched the flick and can say with certainty it’s insanely good mostly because it’s insane. The visuals are like nothing you’ve seen, the Joker is incredibly well done, and the movie is so over the top you’d be a fool not to at least contemplate a viewing. Here are three reasons why it’s well worth your hour and a half.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Batman and a cast of villains including The Joker are transported back in time to medieval Japan in this ground-breaking anime feature. *Japanese version plays after English version.
Can I jump in easily?
All you really need to know is that Batman fights super criminals and a general idea of who his rogue’s gallery is as Penguin, Two-Face, and Joker all make appearances (among others).
Reason 1: Tony Hale is a fantastic Joker.
Tony Hale, best known for his role as Buster on Arrested Development, is one of the most entertaining elements of this movie. The minute I found out he was playing Joker I had to watch this film, and I wasn’t disappointed. He’s way over the top–and has the laugh down pat–with ridiculous lines and even more ridiculous pronunciations. The way he said Batman, for instance, separating Bat and Man is ridiculous. I knew it was Hale from the get-go which made it hard to dissociate him from his characters I know and love but after a while, the insanity he infuses into this character is all-encompassing and very well done. You can tell Hale put his all into recording the Joker (his screaming is proof of that) and it’s incredible. Don’t be surprised if he shows up high on future lists of best Joker performances.
Reason 2: The film is visually arresting.
Gamespot pointed out in this interview that the film was animated first and then dialogue was added last. That is very different from American animation with a full script and dialogue recorded before anyone starts drawing the film. That tells you the creators were more interested in making this a visually stunning film first, one that could be told with no words at all, before a single word was read into a microphone. It’s obvious from the very start the visuals were the focus with CGI elements integrated with beautifully rendered backgrounds. There are also beautiful watercolor scenes–like the scene featuring Joker who has become a sane farmer–and other animation styles mixed into this film. It’s impressive how clean and well rendered this movie is, so much so it’s worth just peeking at a trailer to see how good it looks.
Reason 3: It’s so ridiculous you cannot look away.
About twenty minutes into this movie things stop making sense — and that’s after the whole time travel thing. It all starts with Batman finding out Alfred has brought a Batmobile to ancient Japan. Batman then rushes in to fight Joker, but soon discovers the Joker has a giant mech-robot to smash his tiny Batmobile with. How Joker could create such a thing in ancient Japan, let alone power it, is beyond me, but it’s way over the top. Soon Batman is converting his car into a plane and then to a motorcycle and finally to a mech-suit. It’s ridiculous. Later we find out each of the villains transported back in time have their own giant robots to fight with and your suspension of disbelief will completely fall away. Once your brain realizes nothing makes sense you’ll dig in and enjoy this over the top extravaganza.
Joker’s absolute insanity helps settle your brain for the crazy stuff in this flick. From millions of bats and monkeys forming a giant Batman that can fight a mega-zord Joker to the huge breasts on Catwoman and Harley Quinn, nothing makes sense. Or how Batman stupidly falls for Catwoman, Gorilla Grodd, and Joker all pretending to be good guys only to double-cross him? Early on a point is made about how Joker bringing in coal to push the ancient Japan into a modern era, but where does he get the modern missiles? How does he have the time to paint skyscraper-sized bombs with his likeness? How the hell does Robin communicate with a monkey (who he affectionately calls Monk-eh-oh). There are so many things in this movie that don’t make a lick of sense you’ll be crazy yourself by the end if you try to make sense of it all.
Reasons to be wary?
At times it can be hard to warrant paying attention. There’s no logic to the world this movie inhabits, with giant missiles dropping or villains fighting villains just to serve as giant set pieces. It’s quite clear the visual team didn’t care about any logic or plot and just attempted to deliver an entertaining experience. They succeeded, but at the price of real stakes or logic. Batman also comes off as slightly stupid, rushing into battle early on and later repeatedly trusting villains and being double-crossed. It gets out of hand how many mistakes he makes and yet everyone acts like he knows all the answers.
Is there a rationale to the reasons?
Going in, all I knew was I wanted to experience this anime extravaganza completely in the dark. I now wish I knew beforehand how over the top and ridiculous this experience was going to be so I could turn my brain off and let it wash over me. With that foresight I would have enjoyed it more by not questioning Batman’s questionable reasoning or how a giant robot could even work in ancient Japan. This is a visually arresting film with great voice acting performances and a plot that’s so ridiculous you can only stand there with your mouth agape as your brain explodes. It’s so very good at being so very impossible.
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