Who is Batman without his technology? Many, not me…today, would say that it makes him completely irrelevant as a character. Others would say that it allows the character to show off his incredible determination and detective skill. Regardless of what approach you think, this is certainly a central thesis that informs the narrative of Batman Ninja, a Warner Bros Japan and Warner Bros Animation co production. What starts off as a simple question explodes into one of the craziest films of the year.
One of the more interesting things to do as a film reviewer is analyze how you feel about a film as it is versus how you though it might be or how you want it to be. I can honestly say that there is nothing about this movie that went the way I expected and I have no idea how a movie this bonkers was green-lit, let alone made. Batman Ninja is one of the most raucous movies of the year and the most entertained I have been in a while.
The story is different than what I anticipated. Rather than just being a Batman story set in Japan, it’s a time travel story. Batman is hot on the trail of Gorilla Grodd, who has holed up in Arkham Asylum after developing a machine that will allow him to time travel. Batman’s interference ends up transporting them to Feudal Japan. Bruce is immediately out of his element having arrived two years later than everyone else, and is hunted mercilessly by his nemesis the Joker. A chance encounter with Selina Kyle and Alfred gives him new information, it’s more than just a few people who have been transported, everyone has been brought into this new land by Grodd’s scheme. Batman has to team up with his sons and learn the ways of the ninja in order to defeat his foes and return home.
Though the movie posits what Batman is like when forced to deal with extreme factors, it doesn’t do so at the expense of the character. This is a very Batman story, just on steroids and in a fun animation style. I don’t get a chance to see much in the way of animated films that aren’t from the likes of Pixar, Disney, and Laika. Batman Ninja is beautifully animated, a feat given that it blends so many styles. My favorite moment is when Red Hood comes into the story to the tune of water color style painting, beautiful art to match a very harrowing sequence. The voice work here is also incredible, in particular Tony Hale as the Joker.
I want so badly to get into spoilers but much of the wonder of this movie but the brilliance of this movie deserves to be discovered. You can do this when it drops on digital April 24 or on bluray and dvd on May 8.