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Batman Ninja (Blu-ray Review)

Earlier this year we were treated to Batman: Gotham By Gaslight, a one-off elseworld tale of the dark knight in a unique style and visual setting. In that review, I mentioned that this was the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of. More wild and crazy variations or adaptations on a superhero that pretty much everyone is familiar with. Now, just a couple months later, my wish has been fulfilled.  Now Batman is being presented with a tale in the spirit of the culture of the Eastern hemisphere. And its being visually brought to us in the visual style of anime. This film created some big buzz when it was unveiled at the New York Comic Con last year and its finally landing upon us. You’ll be able to check out the film when it arrives on Blu-ray May 8th.

Film 

Batman Ninja takes a journey across the ages as Gorilla Grodd’s time displacement machine transports many of Batman’s worst enemies to feudal Japan – along with the Dark Knight and a few of his allies. The villains take over the forms of the feudal lords that rule the divided land, with the Joker taking the lead among the warring factions. As his traditional high-tech weaponry is exhausted almost immediately, Batman must rely on his intellect and his allies – including Catwoman and the extended Bat-family – to restore order to the land, and return to present-day Gotham City.

I’ll lead off with the admission that I’m not an anime guy. Maybe I’ve mentioned that before. Its a niche I’ve tried and wanted to like, but it just doesn’t click for me. However, this little Batman Ninja project really captivated my interest and sold me. Lucky enough, it didn’t let me down either, as I really enjoyed this very unique take on the world’s greatest detective.

A lot of the joy of the film is seeing the portrayals and depictions of each well known Batman character, be it the rogues gallery or the Bat-family of heroes. And this movie features a lot of them. One of the funniest was when Bane shows up as a sumo wrestler. The costumes, hair styles and look of the characters are all quite fun, true to their nature and also fitting of the mold the film is trying to fit. Nothing at all feels or looks like it has been forced just for the sake of it. The filmmakers really have a fluid vision for this thing and it really stops at nothing and proceeds with a confidence in its mission that makes it fun to get through.

While the majority of this film is set in one animation style, the film does deviate at a couple points and pays homage to other known Japanese animation techniques and looks. There are also many different Eastern folklore and pop culture aspects at play from samurai fights, to pirates to some “bigger” and more robotic methods of geeky fandom. I REALLY want to talk about some of this, but I’d rather not play spoiler. I chose my pictures carefully so as to not ruin any potential surprises that lie for the new viewer. I rewatched the trailers to be sure, but holding back on some surprises.

Batman Ninja is loads of fun. And, to my surprise it was a PG-13 that would be appropriate for more younger audiences than some of the previous efforts. Its violent but not incredibly graphic, there are no sexual instances and the language is rather fair (There’s the word “ass” in there once that I recall). And hey, maybe anime fans hate this movie, but it really worked for me and I had quite a bit of fun. I’m looking forward to returning to it in the near future.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: It appears Warner Bros may be done with their testing the waters of 4K Ultra-HD for the animated features in the physical format. While cool and up to date, there wasn’t much more places to go after regular Blu-ray. Still, the digital version is available in 4K. This one is bright, very sharp and features an impressive amount of detail. The image is full and actually feels as if it carries weight to it.

Depth:  Movements have a sort of intentionally choppy look. Some of the CG animated sequences have some good three dimensional appeal. The characters do feel impressively separated from the environments in free wheeling movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are dark and deep and do good to accentuate the picture. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors look absolutely gorgeous here. There are some purple-orange looking sunsets that are beautiful. All the colors are well saturated and really come on strong here whether they keep a deep appearance or pop like some purples and reds.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, English (Translation of Original Japanese Audio), French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese

Dynamics: No Atmos here, but a fine 5.1 track comes available here. Sound effects are really well layered with good depth and distinct clarity. This mix features a good balance of the score with the effects and vocals. Its loud and draws you right in from the start.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: This one really booms. Cannons, explosions, gunfire, punches landing, wood splitting and more command your subwoofer to pounce.

Surround Sound Presentation: The speakers have some fun here where cannons and guns fire from different spots in the rear speakers at times during battles as well as other accurate sound effects. Movement, travel and placement are all fun and accurate to screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good depth on the detail of the actors’ diction.

Extras 

Batman Ninja comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

Original Japanese Audio

East/West Batman (HD, 17:33) – Here the filmmakers talk about Batman entering a new realm. They discuss the storytelling styles and motifs of the Eastern hemisphere while blending them with the Batman lore.

Batman: Made In Japan (HD, 14:03) – This featurette goes over the animation inspirations and directions it took for the film. They go over artists that influenced the film as well.

New York Comic Con Presents Batman Ninja (HD, 49:02) – The panel discussion with the filmmakers at the 2017 New York Comic Con.

Summary 

Batman Ninja is another fun, highly imaginative offshoot from the DCAU. It comes to Blu-ray with a great picture quality and boom, crisp audio to boot. The extras provided are solid (Sadly not vintage toons on this disc though) and give you generally good background on it. This is an awesome direction they’ve gone in for two titles now. Let’s see them have some fun like this with heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and Flash next!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Batman Ninja (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Can’t. Wait.

  2. Gregg

    I agree 100% with your technical ratings, but we’re far apart on our opinion of the film itself. The Joker was horribly portrayed.