Serious comic-book fans know that the Teen Titans have been around since the 1960s, but with comic-book culture hitting the mainstream, many people were first made aware of this superhero team when the animated Teen Titans series premiered on Cartoon Network in 2003. The show starred five teenaged superheroes with varying powers that solved crime and fought super villains, much like their Justice League counterparts. They were led by Robin (Scott Menville), who had no super powers of his own but had learned from one of the greatest super heroes, Batman. The other team members included: Cyborg (Khary Payton), a half-man half-machine known for his strength and mechanical genius; Starfire (Hynden Walch), an alien princess and Robin’s love interest who can fly and shoot lasers from her hands and eyes; Raven (Tara Strong), a demon equipped with special magical abilities trying to fight her inner nature and instead be a force for good; and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), the comic relief who can change into any animal. The show was cancelled after five seasons to the disappointment of many. For several years there was talk of bringing it back, and in 2013 it returned in its current incarnation Teen Titans GO!
But this latest version was far from what the original was. While it kept the five main characters and uses the same voice actors, the format, storylines, and tone are completely different. Each episode is only 15-minutes long (with commercials) and is more slapstick humor than serious crime-fighting action. Mixed in with the comedy, there’s even some small educational value as it sometimes deals with odd topics like pyramid schemes, real estate, and what makes the sky blue. The show has become quite popular, but there is a bit of animosity from the more serious comic-book fans who wanted a more traditional series. Because of its popularity and family-friendly comedy, the Teen Titans have ventured into the realm of motion pictures and produced its first feature-length film.
The main plot of the film is about Robin becoming fixated with having his own film made about himself. Batman has a movie, his butler Alfred has a movie, the Batmobile gets a movie, and even the utility belt received its own film, but there is no love for Robin who continues to remain without a movie. When he goes to Hollywood and speaks with Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) about getting his own movie, he learns that the reasons for him being left out are many. He and his team are too silly, he has no arch enemy, and he is seen only as a sidekick. Unless Robin is the last superhero on the planet, he is not going to get a movie based on his adventures.
As fans of the show know, once Robin has his mind set on something, it becomes an obsession and he’s not about to let it go. His first approach is to take his team back in time using specially modified big wheels and interfering with all the other superhero’s origin stories. But that just makes things worse as a world full of supervillains and no one to stop them leaves nothing but a scorched Earth. Fortunately, Slade (Will Arnett), a new villain appears on the scene, so Robin can make himself an arch enemy. Initial confrontations do not go so well for the Titans, but after managing to thwart his evil plans. Robin gets a call from Jade informing him that she’s changed her mind and now he is movie worthy. Robin gets caught up in filming and his ego takes over, alienating his team members and ultimately breaking them up. He is so focused on being the center of attention that he doesn’t realize something nefarious is going on around him and that he is being set up in Slade’s greater plan to enslave the world using his movie as the conduit. In order to stop him, it will take the total combined powers of the Teen Titans.
The Blu-ray was presented in 1080 High Definition 16x9 1.85:1 ratio with a DTS-HD 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. Being that the film is animated with basic two-dimensional artwork, there wasn’t a lot that stood out. It was clean and clear, but nothing that wouldn’t be just as good on the DVD version. The audio track did not feel very immersive. The surround sound did play music but it wasn’t used to its full potential and came across as just average sound quality.
The Blu-ray contains eight special features:
- “GO!-Lil Yachty Music Video” - A version of the Teen Titans introductory song animated with the rapper singing instead of the titans.
- “Silkie Sing-Along” - Silkie wrapped up like a bouncing ball that follows the lyrics for people to sing along to songs from the film. Rap, Inspirational Song, and Superhero Movie
- “DC Superhero Girls: The Late Batsby” - An animated short starring Batgirl who needs to join her other female superhero friends to stop Mr. Freeze, but has to wait until her father goes to sleep before she can leave.
- “Red Carpet Mayhem” - The Teen Titans arrive to their own movie premiere to try and walk down the red carpet.
- “Teen Titans GO! WB Lot Shenanigans” - People in life-sized Teen Titans costumes run around the Warner Brothers lot while being chased by a security guard in Benny Hill fashion.
- “Everything Is Fake” - Pencil drawings of a cut scene from the film.
- “Teen Titans GO!: Translated” - Teen Titans saying phrases in various different languages
- “Storyboard Animatics” - A split-screen between the finished movie scenes and the pencil-drawn storyboard of the Time Cycles sequence and the Final Battle sequence.
While I was entertained by the film, it fell a little flat, like many animated films that come from much shorter television series. The episodes are much tighter and filled with constant comical gags, but a film requires there to be more exposition and a more coherent plot. Robin’s strange fixation with himself and his insecurities are normally funny but when they are drawn out for such a long period, they tend to drag down the story. There were some funny moments, such as when they try to stop every superhero from ever being created, but overall, it just wasn’t what we’ve come to expect from a typical Teen Titans GO! episode. Along with the individual episodes, it also had to compete with their “The Night Begins To Shine” four-part episode which would have been a better representation on the silver screen.