(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 30
3 out of 5 🐙
Prior to this movie, the only experience I had with the Teen Titans, in any form, was Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, a purely fun blast of a movie. The meta-jokes and rapid-fire silliness and wit blew me away. It was so much fun.
This is not the same Teen Titans. Where the Teen Titans Go movie goes for laughs and is a different concept altogether, these Teen Titans are based on a famous DC comics storyline and they are broody, dark, edgy teens. Ever since Frank Miller dropped The Dark Knight on to the comics universe, there has been a deluge of “dark” versions of longstanding characters. Campy was out. Caustic was in.
Other than the profanity, outright killing*, and mature themes**, this is a pretty standard superhero story. The Titans face an enemy that wants to destroy them. At the same time, they have to deal with a new member, Princess Starfire, an alien refugee from a revolt on her home planet, and a relatively new member, Terra, whose loyalty is questioned by some.
I can’t say this film does anything remarkable. The fights are fine. The dialogue is average. The animation is good, but the color palette is too dark and it diminishes the quality. There’s not really anything shocking or novel in this movie.
*When I say outright killings, I mean people get shot and killed and people die in the arms of others. There is no camera pulling away to create some kind of vagueness. I did not expect to see that in a movie featuring teenagers. I was raised in the 80s and am pretty much desensitized to violence, so it didn’t bug me. I just thought it was worth noting.
**Oh right, except for one tiny little thing.
Deathstroke, a grown man, has raised and trained Terra since he rescued her from her home village. As a result, Terra has developed feelings for him. Deathstroke knows this because she is not ambiguous with her entreaties at all. And these aren’t cutesy crush feelings or adorable entreaties. They are sexual and she wants a complete adult relationship. He promises her that they can be together when she finishes doing all the things he wants, primarily betraying the Teen Titans.
It’s really creepy. I don’t know why they needed this Lolita subplot. Terra is a teenager. Deathstroke is an adult. There’s no good way to spin this. They could have easily made it so Deathstroke rescued her from her village and trained her up to be his “Robin” in asexual mentor-mentee fashion. But they didn’t.
I won’t spoil the ending for you. But I will say that no comic book reader, even one who hasn’t read the source material for this movie, is going to walk away from this joint surprised or much pleased.
As a teenager would say, it’s just, whatever.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)