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Warner Home Video presents
Teen Titans: Divide and Conquer (2003)

"Titans, go!"
- Robin (Scott Menville)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: January 06, 2005

Stars: Scott Menville, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong
Other Stars: Ron Pearlman
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (superhero violence)
Run Time: 02h:09m:00s
Release Date: September 28, 2004
UPC: 085393886226
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-A-B+ B-

DVD Review

Originally a group of DC's greatest sidekicks, the Teen Titans came into their own with George Perez's renderings in the 1980s. The successful blend of distinct characters, deep interpersonal issues, adolescent angst and strong villains catapulted the book to the top of DC's sales. The cartoon uses the staple characters, including the darkly introspective Raven (Tara Strong), shape-shifter Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), alien princess Starfire (Hynden Walch), jock turned superhero Cyborg (Khary Payton) and the group's leader, the hot-under-the-collar Robin (Scott Menville). Instead of New York, the Titans fight for the safety of a fictional West coast city, set in an alternate 1960s world. Their main nemesis is the mysterious Slade, whose identity is slowly revealed through these first few adventures.

Volume One of the Titans includes six episodes: in Divide and Conquer, Cinderblock stages a jailbreak, abducting a Clayface-like villain who faces the Titans head on. Meanwhile, Robin and Cyborg must work through some personal conflict; in Sisters, Starfire's sister Blackfire comes to visit, creating some tension and jealousy; Slade hires three super villains, Gizmo, Jinx and Mammoth, to make mincemeat of the Titans in Final Exam; Forces of Nature brings about a storm of villainy via Thunder and Lightning; In The Sum of His Parts, Cyborg's existence is explored, but falls short emotionally; the dark depths of Raven's telepathic mind are breached by Beast Boy and Cyborg in Nevermore.

In a long line of recent DC animated programs, this version of Teen Titans comes on the heels of some very tough competition. The more mature overtones of the superb Batman: The Animated Series are all but left behind in this very kid-friendly re-imagining. Instead, the show opts for a more straightforward storytelling style (read: thin) and humorous antics. Soap opera has been substituted with the quarrels of friendship. The expected Bruce Timm character designs have been altered to create a very Anime-influenced look, complete with the annoying "super-deformities" that emphasize emotional reactions. With a pop theme song reminiscent of classic superhero cartoons, this is a fun, goofy show that has heart, but lacks the emotional impact of the source material. Kids will enjoy its simple themes and funny moments, but adults will not find much to cling to.

Despite a somewhat weak show, Warner's disc has power. The original 1.33:1 transfer (the back cover erroneously lists the transfer as widescreen) is dazzling, showing strong, bold colors, contrast and only rare appearances of motion "jaggies." The Dolby 2.0 audio is an active stereo mix with nice panning and fun sound effects. This show certainly looks and sounds unique, and I respect the producers' attempt to bring something new to the title, but it didn’t click with me. Since I have a DC bias, I'll be merciful here, but I'll opt for Batman and Superman any day.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno
Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes
Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring DC Comics Kids, Codename: Kids Next Door, October DC Comics’ Superheroes, Hi Hi! Puffy Ami Yumi
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Find the Remote interactive game
Extras Review: There is some nice stuff to chew on here. Comic Creations: From Comics to Cartoon (21m:53s) is an informative look at the history of the Teen Titans comics, the individual characters and the ideas behind the new animated series. Interviews with George Perez, Marv Wolfman, producer Glen Murakami, among others, are jazzed up by some creative video effects. This is a fine piece.

Find the Remote is kind of a strange feature that begins with a voice over narration. We are presented with the messy floor of the Teen Titans headquarters. Using the remote to scan around the room, we can select different elements, hear explanations, and eventually gain access to a highlight reel.

A music video for the poppy theme song by Japanese duo Puffy Ami Yumi (03m:33s) is included, as is a preview for their upcoming show Hi Hi! Puffy Ami Yumi. There are more trailers for other DC titles.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Teen Titans is a creative departure from the source material that comes off as annoying, but gains points for trying something new. Fun gags and good characters will entertain kids, but don't look for much depth. Warner's disc soars.

 


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