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Teen Titans Go! To the Movies: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Review

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) movie poster Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Theatrical Release: July 27, 2018 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: PG

Directors: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath / Writers: Michael Jelenic, Aaron Horvath

Voice Cast: Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Scott Menville (Robin), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven), Hynden Walch (Starfire), Will Arnett (Slade), Kristen Bell (Jade Wilson), Eric Bauza (Aquaman, Stan Lee's Assistant), Michael Bolton (Tiger), Kal-El Cage (Young Bruce Wayne), Nicolas Cage (Superman), Joey Cappabianca (Plastic Man), Greg Davies (Balloon Man), John DiMaggio (Guard, Synth Skate Voice), Halsey (Wonder Woman), David Kaye (Trailer Voice, Announcer Inside Premiere), Tom Kenny (Machine Voice), Jimmy Kimmel (Batman), Stan Lee (Himself), Vanessa Marshall (Vault Voice), Phil Morris (Red Carpet Announcer, Doomsday Device), Patton Oswalt (Atom), Alexander Polisnky (Control Freak), Meredith Salenger (Supergirl), Dave Stone (Challengers of the Unknown), Fred Tatasciore (Jor-El, Security Guard), James Arnold Taylor (Fake Slade Actor), Lil Yachty (Green Lantern), Wil Wheaton (Flash)

Songs: "GO!", "Check This Out", "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life", "My Superhero Movie"

Buy Teen Titans GO! To the Movies from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

Four of the year's five top grossing releases are superhero movies. If ever there was a time for genre fatigue to set in with moviegoers, it is this year. And yet here is another one and like the best of the year's crop, it is animated.
But hold your groans; Teen Titans GO! To the Movies is absolutely a breath of fresh air. That's because it's a superhero movie about superhero movies and while it's not the first of its kind, this clever, funny adventure joins the ranks of such landmarks as The Incredibles and The Lego Batman Movie.

As you can surmise from the title, this film is born out of "Teen Titans GO!", an animated comedy series that has been running for five seasons on Cartoon Network. Like the series, it focuses on a group of five young aspiring heroes: Batman's sidekick/ward Robin (voiced by Scott Menville), the alien princess Starfire (Hynden Walch), animal shape shifter Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), partly robotic Cyborg (Khary Payton), and the cloaked and acerbic Raven (Tara Strong).

An opening battle with a large balloon man establishes the Teen Titans as a team more comedic than formidable. They have powers and camaraderie, but they're young and "goofsters", as Superman (Nicolas Cage) puts it. When Jump City is in real danger, the Justice League needs to save the day. The superhero community regards Robin and company as jokes, harmless but ineffective.

Having snuck into the premiere of Batman's new movie, Robin is disheartened to see previews for a number of superhero movies that do not star him.

Getting turned away from the red carpet premiere of another Batman movie is the straw that breaks the camel's back. The marginalization only strengthens Robin's dream for a movie to be made about him and the Titans. To make it a reality, the young misfits decide to journey back in time to rid the world of superheroes so that they can seem super by comparison. This supremely inventive plot sends the Titans back to Krypton and to Gotham City to change the course of events that make Superman and Batman who they are.

Needless to say, a movie deal isn't that simple. Nor is securing an archnemesis, although the group sets its sights on crystal thief Slade (Will Arnett) while Robin gets a chance to go solo and have a taste of movie stardom.

Though you probably couldn't tell from the trailers, To the Movies is an absolute blast. Mix the irreverence of the Lego movies and the contemplative spirit of Brad Bird's Incredibles and you get this, a frequently funny send-up of superheroes both inside and out of the DC Comics Universe. Though the TV series is for kids and this PG-rated movie theoretically is too, many of the best jokes will be lost on or underappreciated by them. These include gags about Green Lantern, Deadpool, Batman v Superman, and the original Superman. Marvel mastermind turned figurehead Stan Lee makes an animated cameo and loves it so much he has to come back for a riotous second. There are multiple references thematically and musically to Back to the Future. There is an "Animaniacs" nod, virtually a Marlon Brando appearance, and a running bit involving the obscure, long-forgotten Challengers of the Unknown. There are also on-target jokes about the historical lack of a Robin movie and of other outlandish projects we might see sooner.

The Teen Titans pin their hopes on the jewel thief Slade (voiced by Will Arnett) becoming their nemesis.

It was just last year that Lego Batman took a similar approach to all things Gotham, but Teen Titans broadens its horizons to lampoon superheroism
and superhero cinema at large. It's kind of like a PG-rated Deadpool, without the fourth wall breaks. The thing is you could be young or unversed in movies and not get many of the jokes it tastefully keeps coming. You may even not be amused by jokes about farts, pooping in a prop toilet, or Robin's insecurity regarding his baby hands. Even in those two unlikely scenarios, you could still end up enjoying the movie because it's sincere and relatable. Robin's quest for his own movie makes for a compelling narrative, one that is enhanced by goofy fun flourishes like "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life", an Oscar-worthy, '80s-flavored original ballad featuring vocals by Michael Bolton.

The movie hails from the people who made and are still making the show. Series developer Aaron Horvath and supervising director Peter Rida Michail are credited with direction, while Horvath and his fellow developer Michael Jelenic wrote the screenplay. There is danger in these guys being too close to this universe and not knowing how to give it the broad appeal needed to reach a wider audience of general moviegoers. But a good and sharp sense of humor trumps any passion the crew might have for these characters, resulting in an accessible comedy that should entertain newbies without disappointing dedicated fans.

As the rare 2D-animated film given theatrical release these days, Teen Titans predictably struggled to find a paying audience, but that shouldn't detract from its achievements. It reminded me of Teacher's Pet, Disney's 2004 big screen adaptation of a smart ABC Saturday morning cartoon. Nobody was clamoring for that and it bombed spectacularly in off-season winter release. Teen Titans opened across from the new Mission: Impossible, while the Incredibles, Jurassic World, and Ant-Man sequels were still drawing crowds, among other big four-quadrant summer attractions. With that in mind, the film's $30 million haul domestically on a $10 million budget (peanuts compared to what Pixar poured into Incredibles 2) was not as disappointing as it could have been.

Though critics were near-unanimous in their approval, I still doubt those high marks are enough to keep this in Best Animated Feature conversation, not in a year with Incredibles 2, Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet, and the buzzed-about upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (as well as one or two foreign gems that inevitably will break through). After all, reviews were glowing on Lego and Lego Batman and both drew large crowds, yet still Warner Bros. hasn't gotten an Animated Feature nominee since Happy Feet won the award in 2006.

A day before Halloween and a week before that other big animated superhero hit stores, Teen Titans GO! came to disc in a single-disc DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital combo pack reviewed here.

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Latin American Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Service, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Teen Titans GO! boasts outstanding picture and sound quality on Blu-ray. In the early days of DVD, Pixar used to boast of direct digital to digital nature of bringing their animation to DVD. These days, just about everything ends up on a computer and therefore is limited only by compression and the available disc space. Here, the 2D animation shines with vibrant colors and nary a concern, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is lively and spirited throughout.

Rapper Lil Yachty gets the cartoon treatment in the animated music video for his remix of the Teen Titans' new anthem "GO!" Batgirl rushes to catch up to her peers in the uneventful DC Super Hero Girls short "The Late Batsby."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with the animated music video for Lil Yachty's remix of the song "GO!" (2:09). A cartoon version of the rapper (who voices Green Lantern in the film) is seen performing the
Titans' tastefully expositional new theme.

The movie version of the rap (1:55) is one of three given the "Silkie Sing-Along" treatment, with a ball bouncing over lyrics on screen. The other two: the Michael Bolton-driven "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life" (2:41) and Robin's "My Super Hero Movie" (2:22). The catchy songs are among the film's many highlights and thus this feature was more or less a must here.

Next up we find the short film The Late Batsby (4:14), which played before the movie in theaters. Not a new take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterful novel or even Baz Luhrmann's creative 2013 adaptation, this extension of (/advertisement for) Cartoon Network's DC "Super Hero Girls" sees Batgirl running late to join her fellow female tween superheroes in a battle with Mr. Freeze. It's over before it even really goes anywhere.

Costumed Teen Titans performers pose for a photo with a fan in "WB Lot Shenanigans." The alien princess Starfire sings about the artificiality of movie sets in the deleted song "Everything Is Fake."

Two promotional shorts follow.

The animated "Red Carpet Mayhem" (2:08) lets the gang hype their movie to a red carpet interviewer with the assistance of clips.

"WB Lot Shenanigans" (3:55), meanwhile sees five costumed Teen Titans performers running around the Warner Bros. studio lot and 75th anniversary Batman exhibit. The Titans silently make mischief while an original song "Shenanigans" and "Benny Hill Show"-type sax plays

and a security guard grows increasingly perturbed. It's a strange, diverting curiosity.

The deleted Starfire song "Everything Is Fake" (0:50), about the illusions of movie sets, is presented in animatic form.

"Teen Titans GO!: Translated" (2:16) expectedly runs through a few lines, contrasting the original English to the various foreign dubs, from German and Latin American Spanish to Hebrew and Italian. Animated films have been including these for decades, but it remains interesting for two minutes, particularly with the joke at its end.

Finally, we get self-explanatory, split-screen comparisons of storyboard animatics to the final film for two scenes: "Time Cycles" (1:07) and "The Final Battle" (1:34).

Of these extras, the DVD only includes the two storyboard animatics.

The discs opens with trailers for a mysterious teaser for something called Teen Titans GO! vs. Teen Titans and full trailers for Smallfoot and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. (The DVD adds trailers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald and Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost, plus an ad for the "Teen Titans GO!" TV show.) These are not accessible by menu and no trailers for the feature itself are included.

The scored, static menu finds the Titans sitting in or running near their movie set chairs.

Joining the two silver discs inside the slipcovered eco-friendly keepcase: an insert supplying both a digital copy and a code to get a free digital Teen Titans GO! comic plus an ad for the soundtrack and a game.

The Teen Titans turn up the "rad" to power their time cycles and travel through time in "Teen Titans GO! To the Movies."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There have been few better movies this year than Teen Titans GO! To the Movies and I'm not sure that any of them are as much fun. This spry, witty, clever outing might be the most satisfying TV-to-film adaptation ever performed. Deserving far more appreciation than it has thus far earned, this charming adventure is ripe for discovery.

On Blu-ray the highly watchable and rewatchable film is given a deluxe presentation and complemented by a handful of basic, tasteful extras. This combo pack is easy to recommend to just about anyone who doesn't think animation is below them.

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Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / DVD / Instant Video

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Warner Bros. Animation: The Lego Movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars Storks | Adapted from Television: Teacher's Pet Recess: School's Out
Animated Superheroes: The Lego Batman Movie Freakazoid! Season 1 The Tick vs. Season 1 The Incredibles
2018 Movies: Incredibles 2 Smallfoot Deadpool 2 Ant-Man and the Wasp Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Isle of Dogs Ready Player One

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Reviewed November 27, 2018.



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