Why not call it Ninja Batman? I don't know.
Boy was this a trip. Where to begin with this movie? Well I was hoping to see it in theaters, it came out just 3 days shy of my birthday but thankfully it hit video not all that long after. I didn't hear much about the movie beyond a trailer and it looked interesting. It has a cool and fascinating premise, it's almost Elseworlds material! What if Batman, the Bat Family, and a collection of his rogues gallery instead of 21st century Gotham, were in 14th century Japan? The result is...bat shit insane (no pun intended). I mean Jesus fish, what did I just watch? Only in Japan folks. Okay, gotta back up. So Bruce and company are trying to take down Gorilla Grodd who has collected Joker, Harley, Two-Face, Penguin, Ivy, and Deathstroke when suddenly all the characters get time warped (or should I say TARDIS-d?) away to feudal Japan where the rogues have become warlords, while Batman has arrived two years later thus forcing him to gather his forces and take out the tyrants. Told you it was insane. Now things must be said, I love the designs. They fit the era and look incredible. The voice cast, both in Japanese and English are really damn good. My hat especially goes off to Wataru Takagi in the Japanese version, he is having the time of his life playing Joker and it is awesome! The english cast is standard but great, we got Roger Craig Smith back to do Batman after Arkham Origins, Grey Griffin as Selina, Tara Strong as Harley, and Fred Tatasciore as both Grodd and Deathstroke. All excellent as always and a joy to see again. I highly suggest you see both the Japanese and American version, because both are good but neither are better. I get the immense feeling though you are not meant to bring logic with you into this movie. There are multiple points where you ask basic questions and no good answers are given. How do they have 21st century tech to create war mech/Gundam/Voltron castles? No I'm not making that up. This movie is hopped up on something and my God is it glorious. Logical? No. Awesome? Actually, yeah! So don't expect say, Mask Of The Phantasm or Under The Red Hood levels of plot and character. Just say the title, that's all you need. It's meant for spectacle, and the animation is amazing yet something I have never seen. The backgrounds are 2D with a very older look to them, think Samurai Champloo yet less defined and done more in a Japanese woodblock painting. You can even see the imprint of the texture of the paper in the sky! But here is the odd part, the character models are 3D, yet are drawn in a 2D fashion. You follow me? They are 3D models walking along a 2D background, yet made to appear 2D, with stencil marks and shading you do with hand drawn animation. And the whole friggin' movie is just as weird as that. Granted it's a fun movie, that is great for a popcorn night with friends, but the meat is not in the story or characters but the atmosphere, animation style, and spectacle of the action. And you know what the bad part is? I don't think I have ever seen a samurai movie. I mean, ever. Closest thing was this, and I've seen Samurai Champloo 2 or 3 times, and of course Samurai Jack. But no Kurosawa and you know, it's hard to call yourself a film critic when you have not experienced one of the most well known and influential director's work in history. So no doubt we will do a Kurosawa week, hell it may even be longer than a week. But next week we say sayonara to Japan, and hello to Vegas.