Apr 13, 2016

[Movies] Justice League vs Teen Titans (2016)

I rather enjoyed the Teen Titans cartoon while it was airing on Cartoon Network. It was a fun little superhero show that was't entirely kiddie but also wasn't necessarily too adult either. Sure it had a lot of dark stories because of the likes of Raven on the team, but on the the whole it was quite the fun series.

I didn't know what to make of the news that there was going to be a DC animated movie for Justice League vs Teen Titans, which by the title alone already seemed a little ridiculous. But then again whenever we see stories that involve two teams pitted against one another, we know that it typically involves the two teams working together in the end.

And this version of the Teen Titans isn't exactly the one I grew to love over on Cartoon Network, the characters themselves still seem coherent enough to rekindle old feelings.

Synopsis: Justice League vs Teen Titans is a DC Universe Animated Original Movie released direct to video last month. It was directed by Sam Liu, who has worked on a number of animation projects for DC as of late.

The movie starts with the Justice League getting a strange message by possessed Weather Wizard (Rick D. Wasserman) reveals the coming of the demon Trigon (Jon Bernthal). Damien as Robin (Stuart Allan) manages to cause enough damage to Weather Wizard to break the link of possession, but also disobeyed Batman (Jason O'Mara) in the process. Robin is brought to the Teen Titans to learn teamwork, and at this point the team involves Starfire (Kari Wahlgreen), Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo), Blue Beetle (Jake T. Austin), and Raven (Taissa Farmiga). And as Damian struggles to learn to work with others, the coming of Trigon coming to Earth apparently involves taking over people to help herald his return, including members of the Justice League.

The Justice League remains to be the same Justice League we've seen in past animated movies like Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, which follows a continuity that's closer to the New 52 reboot of events. I'm not totally against this line-up, but it just doesn't feel quite as fun or as cohesive as they could be. But maybe the writers will figure that out in time.

I felt a similar awkwardness with the Teen Titans, although I got over that a bit quicker given the decision to include a new team member in the form of the younger Blue Beetle. As much as part of me wished that the producers had managed to get some of the original voice actors from the Cartoon Network series to reprise their roles, the final line-up of talents in the movie still worked out pretty well. Major props to Taissa Farmiga for pulling off a pretty intense Raven.

The story of Trigon coming to conquer Earth is a bit of a classic one given Raven's character and we saw this addressed in the Teen Titans TV series as well. The only difference here is of course a much broodier Robin in the form of Damian and the weird need to possess the Justice League to see them fight.

I rather enjoyed the irony of Cyborg (Shemar Moore) still being a part of the Justice League in this story since he had been in the Teen Titans in the TV series and some of the older comic books. It was only in the New 52 that Cyborg really got upgraded in terms of general importance for some reason, perhaps to add a splash of color to the predominantly white Justice League. There are some fun bits in the movie where they poke fun at Cyborg and how he might work better with the Titans, and I did enjoy that spot of humor.

Action sequences were pretty good, but that is to be expected given the quality of work released by DC in recent years. The overall pacing of the story and the way the character arcs were managed also felt better than what I had experienced in some of the other animated films, and I'm quite appreciative of that fact.

On the whole, Justice League vs Teen Titans does give you a fair amount of the two teams duking it out, and that's always fun. I didn't feel everyone was behaving as they normally would in such a crises, but of course not everyone can be the hero when the plot demands otherwise. Thus the movie gets a good 4 odd moments at the carnival out of a possible 5.

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