Once again DC Comics advertises a throwdown between titans that doesn’t totally deliver. True, the two teams of old and young battle, but it’s under wild circumstances, and it’s only a two minute bout at best. Sam Liu’s film should have been called “Teen Titans” and been done with it, but how else to cash in on “Batman v Superman,” I guess? The film is primarily centered around the building of the Teen Titans and their dynamics as a whole. The movie channels both the original animated series, and the cult classic “Young Justice” to offer up a movie that I wish would begin a new series of more exciting movies, showing how these teens have to work and fight in a world dominated by basic gods. That said, “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” isn’t a bad film, despite the criticisms and observations. It’s a very fine action adventure that focuses on the interesting interplay between Robin and Raven.
Plus, with a cast that includes Jon Bernthal, Taissa Farmiga, Rosario Dawson, and Jerry O’Connell, it at least warrants a watch. Set after the last film, Robin is stll a smug self assured jack hole who spends his time watching Batman’s back as he fights dangerous villains with the League. After the demonic Trigon is unleashed somehow, and begins wreaking havoc on the city, Robin takes it upon himself to destroy the demon with missiles packed in Batman’s Jet. Angered by his recklessness, Batman sends Robin to join the Teen Titans and learn a sense of discipline and order. Accompanied by the original Robin also known as Nightwing, Robin is teamed with a young group of superheroes, and mentored by the lovely Starfire. But things aren’t all as they seem, as Superman is possessed by the demonic Trigon who uses the Man of Steel to rebuild an alter to help him come in to our world.
As the events unfold, Damian Wayne begins to realize he’s found a new family with the titans, commuting with them, and learning how to fight with them, rather than fight against them. He makes instant friends with young Raven, a kind but darkly powerful young girl who slowly realizes demons are rising from another dimension, thanks to Trigon who wants to lure Raven to him and his forces once more. It’s too bad “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” barely clocks in at eighty minutes, as I’d loved to have seen more of Damian Wayne learning how to communicate and bond with the Titans, and realize he works better with a team than as a lone wolf. Trigon is a very menacing villain I also wanted to see more of, as the animation matched with Bernthal’s great voice work make him a surefire foe to be reckoned with. Farmiga is also very good as the empathetic heroine with a stone cold dark side working hard to maintain her humanity in the wake of a deadly beast from another realm.
Folks like Jake T. Austin, and Dawson, to name a few, also contribute to the experience quite well. When Trigon manages to possess the Justice League, all hell literally breaks loose as the Titans have to fight some of the world’s most powerful superheroes, all of whom are powered by pure evil and retain their natural abilities. Damian actuallty isn’t as bad here as he is in previous outings, realizing the importance of others and actually accomplishing some very slick moves against adult superheroes. His defeat of a possessed Superman is one of the highlights of the movie, as we get to see how resillient the young hero is, while not pegging Superman as a clunky powerhouse. The film belongs to the Teen Titans, as the League is literally more back up for the crusaders, working against the vastly superior Trigon while the young guns work to save Raven’s soul. Plus it actually somewhat accomplishes redeeming Damian Wayne from an obnoxious pisshead to a superhero and team player I can finally root for.
The Limited Edition Box Set comes packed with a figurine of Damian Wayne’s Robin in a fully detailed pose and pedestal. I would have preferred Trigon or Raven but that’s a nitpick. Featured in the Blu-Ray and DVD Combo is the twenty three minute “Growing Up Titan,” a very good documentary about the background of the Teen Titans and the franchise as a whole. “Heroes and Villains: Raven” is a six minute biography of the half breed witch. “Heroes and Villains: Trigon” is a neat backgroung of the Satanic villain and main adversary for Raven. There’s a ten minute sneak peek at the very highly anticipated “Batman: The Killing Joke” clocking in at ten minutes, which explores the production and background behind the legendary story becoming an animated movie in the DC Library.
Finally from the DC Vaults, there’s an episode of “Teen Titans” entitled “The Prophecy” in which the evil Slade returns from the dead to help Raven realize her potential in the apocalypse. The team also discover Slade is now a slave of Trigon. There’s also “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” episode “Sidekicks Assemble!” in where Robin, Speedy, and Aqualad team up to earn the respect of their superhero allies and prevent Ra’s Al Ghul from attacking the world. Color me surprised there aren’t a few episodes of “Young Justice” included.