Judge Denise Louis was once told that going to a bar was a good way to learn the English language. The only words she learned were Jose, Cuervo, and chloroform.
Our reviews of Teen Titans: Divide And Conquer (Volume 1) (published November 10th, 2004), Teen Titans: The Complete First Season (published February 20th, 2006), Teen Titans: The Complete Second Season (published October 25th, 2006), Teen Titans: The Complete Third Season (published April 18th, 2007), Teen Titans: The Complete Fourth Season (published January 11th, 2008), Teen Titans: The Complete Fifth Season (published August 6th, 2008), Teen Titans: Fear Itself (published December 21st, 2005), and Teen Titans: Switched (published May 19th, 2005) are also available.
We're heroes…we don't take vacations, we don't make mistakes…
Apparently they don't listen to their own monologues either, as the Teen Titans make mistakes and take a vacation in Teen Titans—Trouble in Tokyo.
A marvelously mediocre movie about meddling minors mucking around in the major metropolitan city of Tokyo. See, I can use alliteration too.
Facts of the Case
The five superheroes of the Teen Titans, from the eponymous Cartoon Network show, take a trip to Japan in a direct-to-DVD movie that acts as the Teen Titans series finale.
After being attacked by a dichromatic villain named Saico-Tek, (pronounced psycho-tech) the team interrogates him to find out why they were targeted. Saico-Tek disappears behind a sheet of water, but not before revealing his name, the fact that he's from Tokyo, and the name of his boss, Brushogun.
Once the Titans arrive in Japan they begin search for the supervillain Brushogun, only to disconer that he is just a myth. At least that's what Commander Uehara Daizo of the Tokyo Troopers believes. And he should know about villains in Tokyo, he and the Tokyo Troopers have been fighting crime there for years and managed to decrease it by 200 percent. (200 percent!? Wait a minute, did I put in Minority Report by mistake?)
Still a little skeptical, Robin (Scott Menville, Jonny Quest) continues his search while the other Titans decide they might as well enjoy Tokyo while they're there. Raven (Tara Strong, The Fairly OddParents) decides to do some reading on the myth of Brushogun; Beast Boy (Greg Cipes, The Wild) chases girls and comics and captures neither; Starfire (Hynden Walch, Tom Sawyer) channels more of her inner Mary-Sue; and Cyborg (Khary Payton) gets into an impromptu eating contest at a local restaurant. After leaving the restaurant Cyborg is followed by someone lurking in the darkness. It turns out that none of the Titans are alone, as shadowy figures not-so-ironically shadow their every move. The team must figure out the mystery behind Brushogun and Saico-Tek before whoever is controlling this sentai of sneaks decides to take the Titans out one by one.
It must have been a sad day in the Bruce Timmverse as another one of his animated shows has been cancelled. I can only imagine feelings of betrayal, sadness, and grief, slowly being replaced by feelings of greed, greed, and greed as the idea to cash-in with a direct-to-DVD movie was presented.
Okay, I admit, I'm a little bitter here. I actually liked Teen Titans. It wasn't always great but when it worked, it really worked. I'd kiru for any of the episodes featuring Slade. It's just sad to see it all end, especially when it ends in a second-rate (by Teen Titan standards) movie.
The Teen Titans work as a 22-minute episode. The great storylines had enough time to flesh out over a season. It's sad to say but 75 minutes is just too long for everything this show needs to accomplish in order to be watchable.
The first thing I noticed was the humor: there is far too much of it, and in the wrong places. Action sequences are literally halted to have 10-20 seconds of unneeded comedy, destroying the pacing. It also doesn't help that the comedy is accompanied by what seem like random changes in animation. Let me make this clear, when the comedy and animation are segued nicely, it's fine, but when it stops the flow of an otherwise nicely formed sequence, it's that much more disruptive.
The next thing I noticed is the plot. While it is a decent story, and for the most part well told, it is a little too transparent. I won't spoil it, but as soon as I saw the person who turned out to be Brushogun, I smelled a nezumi. Then there's the romantic subplot. You heard right folks, romantic subplot. It's the series finale people, did you really think you weren't going to get a little Robin/Starfire action?
I'm sure the entire fan base wanted some closure, but the problem is, Robin and Starfire didn't seem to want closure. While they'd never become an official couple, the episode called "Stranded" provided a nice conclusion to their storyline. Everything since then has felt superfluous, an idea only exaggerated by the extended running time of the movie. What was once cute and somewhat redundant in the series becomes awkward and at times tedious in the movie.
Like the humor, the entire story stops for these two to have their moments. The moments themselves lead nowhere and are steeped in awkward revelations and cliches. Also, in a complete reversal of most Starfire and Robin centered episodes, Robin is the one who finds an excuse for them to not be together. This fits with the story, but seems completely out of character given their past interactions. Ultimately I just can't help the feeling that a three-episode series finale would have worked so much better for this subplot, and the entire movie.
Lastly there are the extras. I give them an A for effort, but a C for content. The never-before-seen bonus episode is more like a never-before-seen bonus clip. In fact it looks more like the beginning to what would become a related story (much like the opening fight sequence in the episode "Fear Itself"). Once the fight ended I waited eagerly for the rest of this lost episode, but it never came. Though this certainly explains why it was never aired, there simply wasn't enough material to spread out over an entire episode. What is there consists of an extended action sequence with poor attempts to lengthen the suspense. Apparently the writers want me to believe that the Titans have somehow stopped using basic logic while their enemy aced his class in hammerspace. The team has no excuse for not beating the guy in a matter of minutes.
Then there is Robin's Underworld Race Challenge, which is actually—get this—a challenge! The problem here is that it's a challenge for good and bad reasons. Increasing difficulty and sharp presentation aside, it's a hard mini-game to play because the controls don't work as well as they should. Essentially you are supposed to wait for an arrow to show up on screen and press the corresponding button on your remote, but if you press the button for a split second too long (despite being on time otherwise) you crash. I'm not an avid video gamer by any means but I've played enough times to know that the button shouldn't be that sensitive. It is fun but gets frustrating quickly, and I'm not sure if younger fans would (or should) be patient enough to keep trying. (My seven-year-old nephew played this about six times before he became frustrated and gave up.)
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The video and audio are both good. Other then the opening sequence, where the movement looks static and the music almost drowns out the voices, the animation is fluid and the audio crisp. The action sequences are vibrant and most of the enemies fit well into the animation. Although there is a point in the film where the team fights a Godzilla parody who, because of way too many lines, looks more like a giant pickle then a lizard.
To be fair, the movie is similar to the series in that it's not perfect, but when it works, it's great. The Robin-centered plot has a nice twist with an interesting use of color that was well formed. There is a nice easter egg with the characters singing (badly) during the end credits. And (other then Raven, who is underused as usual) every character has a nice little section of the story to themselves. Lastly, while the movie may not be great, anything that is mediocre by Teen Titan standards is still better than the average cartoon.
The disc has enough content to at least warrant a rent it if you have the extra time, but I can't tell you to buy it unless you're a completist. If neither, don't bother.
Guilty. It's just sad to see the Teen Titans Go! in a less than satisfying way. Judge Denise Louis is also convicted of telling bad jokes.
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