25 April 2018 | reeseevans
Not recommended to anyone above the age of 10
The main problem with "Batman Ninja" is the advertising. Make no mistake, this is a kids film, and had the trailers offered glimpses of its *ahem* wackier moments, serious Batfans would have known to leave well alone. By the end, "Batman Ninja" closer resembles the Power Rangers than Batman.
I will start with "Batman Ninja"s sole positive: its subtle combination of hand-drawn anime comic and 3D art styles is gorgeous. I'd go as far as saying this is the most painstakingly beautiful DC animation I've seen.
The voice acting is fine, with exception to the worst casting misstep of the Joker since Suicide Squad. The actor Tony Hale portrays him with an irritating manic energy that somehow makes Harley Quinn seem restrained. This was the first indication to me that Batman Ninja would be little more than Saturday morning cartoon fare.
The dialogue and characterisations are surprisingly poor throughout. My biggest reservation of cross-pollinating Western and Eastern stories is the lack of true understanding from either side. And so it is in this case. Batman is a fool, unworthy of his reputation as a world-class detective. The Joker is an annoying court jester with none of the more subversive qualities we have come to expect. Catwoman is usually consistent with previous incarnations, but written without depth (as are the other supporting characters).
The idea of Batman's technology being stripped from him, forcing him to adapt to his new (or rather, old) environment, is genuinely fascinating. But any fan will tell you that technology does not define the Batman, but rather allow him to operate on a larger scale. Seeing him suffer a mini personality crisis following the destruction of his toys was odd, to say the least.
Finally, "Batman Ninja" reintroduces the cheesy kitsch of a bygone era, which Warner Bros should know by now is a mistake (Schumacher). The Batman 60s theme tune even plays at one point, just in case it was all too subtle.
Warner's animation department is pretty much the only thing they have going for them as far as DC are concerned, but Batman Ninja is a big backwards step, and a wasted opportunity. A one-shot story with a Batman born and raised in feudal, corrupt Tokugawa Japan could have been truly special.