Advertisements

Review: ‘Justice League vs. Teen Titans’ Is An Exciting Step Forward For Titan Fans

justice league teen titans review

In 2014, WB Animation kicked off a more cohesive series of DVD/On-Demand DC Comics movies, starting with Justice League: War and Son of Batman. Most of the follow up movies since have been quite solid, sporting new takes on the characters that derive from a mix of New 52 and more classic comic book stories.

The Batman features have probably been the best out of all of them, which is why it’s so interesting to watch Justice League vs. Teen Titans, which almost acts as a referendum on how much more compelling these younger, less established characters are compared to the “major leagues” as Cyborg puts it.

It’s not exactly a problem with the movie, but the title itself is actually quite misleading. This is a Teen Titans movie where the Justice League is more of an afterthought and in the background. True, there is some brief action between the two factions, but it’s of little consequence and certainly not the focus of the plot.

The story is really about two characters, starting with Damian Wayne (the new Robin and son of Batman) joining the Teen Titans in order to curb his rebellious ways. As he meets his new teammates, the story shifts to the viewpoint of Raven, the daughter of Trigon (Satan, basically, according to Raven herself). From there, it becomes her movie, with Robin’s story thankfully becoming a side plot.

justice league teen titans review

What makes Teen Titans bold here is how freely it celebrates all corners of the lore that inspired it. This will certainly be a nostalgic adventure for fans of the early 2000s Teen Titans cartoon, but it also works for fans of the New Teen Titans comics, Young Justice, and Teen Titans Go (unfortunately, as clearly shown by the inclusion of an overlong dance sequence and a costume montage reminiscent of Sailor Moon).

This eclectic mix of characters, themes, and visual elements helps make Teen Titans feel almost new again, thanks to its willingness to embrace the edgier tones and storytelling consistent with the Justice League and Batman movies from recent years. The Titans curse, talk about sex, and frankly, act like teenagers. It’s somewhat surprising, at first, but it makes perfect sense when the Justice League does show up to remind everyone that in this universe, characters actually bleed.

The story itself is a big improvement over the more clumsy Throne of Atlantis last year, which tried to juggle Aquaman’s origins with a world-saving plot. Teen Titans goes for the same origin story with Raven, but it’s more effective here because the somewhat less exciting aspect of her origin is out of the way. The movie starts with characters who have a history together, giving viewers a chance to meet them for the first time alongside Damian.

Speaking of the son of Batman, he’s a little less insufferable this time around, though if you already find him annoying, this movie won’t change your mind much. But there is a satisfying story arc here that finally grows his character in a meaningful way, which we haven’t seen done well since Batman vs. Robin. And most importantly, I’m more excited than ever to see what comes next for his character.

justice league teen titans review

The classic characters are all here — Starfire is older and serves as the leader (as well as Dick Grayson’s implied sweetheart), Beast Boy fits the same role as the cartoon, Raven is an interesting foil to Damian’s self-loathing, Blue Beetle carries straight over from Young Justice as the Cyborg surrogate, and even Cyborg himself gets a chance to split time between the Titans and the league.

You can perhaps extract more meaning, then, from the title Justice League vs. Teen Titans, in that it’s less about the actual battle between the two factions and more about Damian’s struggle to find identity with either group. Should he follow his mentor or find teamwork with people his age? It’s not  the movie’s main theme, but it’s a useful way to unpack what is mostly a harmless story that feels updated for both old and new fans of these characters.

Grade: B+ 

Extra Credits:

  • There’s a mid-credits scene that you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of the early 2000s cartoon.
  • The “Hall of Justice” makes an early appearance, cementing WB Animation commitment to sneaking in as many “Superfriends” references as they can.
  • The weird romance continues between Superman and Wonder Woman, and while I’m not against the idea in theory, the movies are being far too shy letting this story go anywhere.
  • But there is one thing the movie does cleverly, involving Wonder Woman’s criticism of a movie showing the female lead as a damsel. I won’t give away what happens, but there are two subversions of this comment that is shared between Wonder Woman and Raven.
  • WB Animation announced plans for a Teen Titans movie way back in 2006 called Judas Contract, but the movie was cancelled due to waning interest in the characters. This is a stepping stone to that story finally coming to light, especially with that mid-credits scene making an appearance.
Advertisements

The Last Four Movies That Will Star Robin Williams

By now, you may have learned the tragic news that celebrated actor Robin Williams tragically passed away today at age 63. One of my personal favorite actors growing up, Williams is best known for his wide range of talent as both a comedian and dramatic powerhouse. The word to best describe him, honestly, will always be memorable. His films simply left a lasting impression.

Films like AladdinMrs. DoubtfireGood Will HuntingGood Morning Vietnam, and of course, Dead Poets Society will be remembered as some of Williams’ best work. But there are still four more films to be released that feature the deceased actor. Here they are:

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

The third film of the Night at the Museum movies (about a museum where the exhibits come to life) will see Robin Williams reprise his role as Teddy Roosevelt.

The movie will be released on December 19th of this year, and you can watch the trailer below.

Merry Friggin’ Christmas

Another comedy coming this holiday season is Merry Friggin’ Christmas, which stars Robin Williams and Lauren Graham. In it, Williams plays a man who visits his dysfunctional family at the holidays, only to realize he left his son’s gifts at home and must travel back home with his own father to make it back in time.

Christmas opens on November 7th, 2014.

robin williams merry friggin christmas

Boulevard

Williams stars in this indie drama alongside Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad). It debuted at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and will be a drama centered around a married man who must confront his “secret life.”

A wide release date has not yet been announced.

the-boulevard-robin-williams

Absolutely Anything

In what will likely be his last onscreen offering, Williams lends his voice to “Dennis the Dog” in this film about a man who discovers he has magic powers. The film also stars Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale in live action roles.

The film will open sometime next year.

robin williams absolutely anything

Of course, several other projects were “in the works” for Williams, including a possible sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. The actor had tough year as of late due to the cancellation of his CBS comedy, The Crazy Ones.

It’s hard to say goodbye to an actor who has meant so much to so many people. It’s even harder to say goodbye so suddenly. But I hope that you will make the trip to theaters to finish Williams’ work. I know I will.

%d bloggers like this: