Let me be frank, I have no business talking about the DC universe.

Not wanting to compare apples and grenades, but the criticism and discourse surrounding the comic books and their televisual and cinematic outings is unlike any other fandom due to it, well, being on opposite ends of both the quality spectrum, and that of its own adaptation. The question most eternal that concerned creators ponder: Do I create a comic book movie, or a movie based on a comic book?

Television wise, DC has concentrated on that second option. And since Arrow first debuted back in 2012, the combined camp and melodrama of the Arrowverse, shows like The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow have resulted in a viewing experience that most people seem happy with. Prequel-series Gotham, despite playing its own game, has also enjoyed a high level of success. I myself tapped out after the first season of the Flash as I had other things to do, but I give credit where credit is due.

Point being. DC television, and I include the animated contingent, has found stability where DC films have not. The movies are still stalling over tone commitments and the public reactions, ranging from basic indifference to internet fury, now possess a direct influence on the finished products that we get. Look what happened to the Academy award-winning Suicide Squad.

So when Dick Grayson aka Robin appeared in the Comic Con trailer for Titans muttering the words “F*ck Batman”, the world was deafened by a unified groan. But it seems that DC stood their ground, and the show is now available to watch on Netflix.

And boy, does it have problems.

Grayson, played by Brenton Thwaites, lives as a cop in Detroit, years after he parted ways with the Caped Crusader on not-so-good sentiments. While on the job, he encounters a young girl with black and blue hair named Rachel (played by Teagan Croft). She is running from a strange and malevolent force, one that both pursues and inhibits her body and mind. Now on the run together, they come across red-haired amnesiac Kory Anders (Anna Diop), who seems to possess the fiery power of the sun. And Garfield Logan (Ryan Potter), a green-haired (gotta love this colour motif) youngster who possesses a wild side like none other, and who can transform into different animals at will. Meanwhile, a darkness threatens to engulf their world and others, and it is up to the team to come together and save it, even if that threat may originate from within them.

At first glance, Titans has some things going for it. It has excellent cinematography and colour mixing that, though perhaps dulled at times, amounts to a show that elevates it above the Arrowverse and even Gotham in depicting a more epic and sinister atmosphere. You can feel that this is a world wherein terrible things happen. It also sounds like a darker world. Kevin Kiner and Clint Mansell’s musical score makes extensive use of low-flying swoops and ambient pauses to establish a mood of mystery and uncertainty.

These production aspects feed into the greater assertion of Titans being a horror-filled escapade. There is graphic violence, torture, and death in this series, and it does not tiptoe around the more intense moments of being a crime fighter or, in Rachel’s case, a supernatural being of demonic origins. One of my favorite elements is a family of assassins who are sent to dispatch our heroes with extreme prejudice, and their completely pleasant nature is an intense signal that something very bloody and violent is about to go down.

While this is all well and good, the production is held back by some questionable visual effects, particularly when it comes to CGI deployed in favour of actual stunt work. While there is more money to be seen on screen than the other DC projects, this shortcoming can be very distracting.

Story wise, the show suffers from pacing and a misplaced use of time, and that’s a shame because there is some good storytelling taking place. Dick Grayson and his backstory is by leaps and bounds the most interesting and engaging element. Exploring how one walks away from a life of crime fighting not because you wanted to do something else or some other incendiary incident, but because you start to over-indulge in the power that it gifts you. While his f-bombing the Bat comes across in that moment as forced, the rest of the writing hoists him up to face and directly speaks to the temptations that he lives with.

But here’s the problem. Dick Grayson’s arc is not the main focus of the plot, and it shouldn’t amount to it. The overall narrative is adequate in terms of how origin stories go, but the central conflict of trying to stop an evil force from destroying the world through a young girl does not effectively tie into what Grayson eventually becomes. I will wager that this was meant to be paid off in the twelfth episode that we never got or the second season, but regardless he is given far too much screen time in the eleven episodes and it sidelines many other elements.

In fact, the series has no problem sidelining its own plot. An entire episode is dedicated to establishing the Doom Patrol, from which Beast Boy joins the travelling group, and then another episode on the backstory of two characters who are not even present at the finale, which also feels like a setup for Season Two. The result is that the headline story does not present itself as big enough to not warrant this big world that it has access to. And when it does make use of the world it has been given, specifically in the final episode, it squanders it with a cliche’ and overused storytelling technique, forgoing a climax in its own situation.

Despite excellent performances and good writing, minimal attention is given to the rest of the Titans. Rachel comes across as more of a plot device than a character, meanwhile Beast Boy, the most interesting person in the series in my opinion, is given very little to do. Starfire, played most entertainingly by Anna Diop, benefits from an interesting dynamic with Robin, but it amounts to nothing by season end and it is unsatisfying.

Unsatisfying should not be a word used to describe a project like Titans, for all the money and effort thrown into its production. Its foundation is cracked and cannot be fixed without a continuation, and a plot that lacks focus to do these characters and the source material justice.

Last Updated: January 14, 2019

Titans
Despite an overall polished production and great performances, Titans loses direction thanks to lack of focus and time management, culminating in a conclusion that is as misplaced as it is unsatisfying.
4.0

54 Comments

  1. Captain JJ

    January 14, 2019 at 11:00

    What a great series. Let the haters hate. If they want a word for word representation of Teen Titans, they can go watch that instead.

    Clearly creative storytelling is just too much for some to handle.

    Reply

    • Sageville

      January 14, 2019 at 12:56

      “Cracked beyond repair”? In what universe?

      I seriously don’t see all the reasons given for slating this, it’s like Barry Ronge read all the comics and is picking the show apart for lack of alignment…

      I’m honestly not sure what metrics were used to come to this score, but clearly I disagree.

      Personally, I loved it, I’m super excited to see Season 2 and what this destroyer of worlds is gonna get up to.

      Reply

    • CrAiGiSh

      January 14, 2019 at 12:52

      THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH LIKES FOR THIS !!!

      Reply

    • miaau

      January 14, 2019 at 16:01

      Yeah, I think so too.

      It is fun watching for me so far.

      But… despite all the polish, I too felt that some things just felt off

      Reply

  2. RinceThis

    January 14, 2019 at 11:00

    I couldn’t disagree with this review anymore. ‘Fuck Samman’ hahahah!

    Reply

  3. Admiral Chief

    January 14, 2019 at 11:07

    So it got a Dragon’s Dogma score?…

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      January 14, 2019 at 11:07

      LOL dude, watch it, totally worth it. It kicks the crap out of all of the other CW shows.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        January 14, 2019 at 11:07

        I stopped watching CW shows, frustrated me too much.

        Also, THEY

        Reply

        • RinceThis

          January 14, 2019 at 11:12

          It has nothing to do with the CW universe. Also, YAWN

          Reply

  4. DBL_ZA

    January 14, 2019 at 11:48

    “Everything about this series is good but I have one minor complaint which means it’s trash.”

    Pretty much how this article reads.

    Reply

    • Sageville

      January 14, 2019 at 12:56

      Exactly..

      Reply

  5. Weanerdog

    January 14, 2019 at 12:32

    I think this shows how pointless review scores are. Sam clearly dislikes it but for me this is the best live action superhero series on Netflix. Agreed that some of the effects are terrible. I am only 5 episodes in but each episode has kept me wanting more.

    My advice go give it a try, you will know by the end of the first episode of you want to watch it.

    Reply

    • Weanerdog

      January 14, 2019 at 12:36

      Oh yes and not one for the kids.

      Reply

  6. Khul

    January 14, 2019 at 13:17

    Biggest and only issue : Starfire . For this alone, I and many other mind-liked people will not watch this crap load they call Teen Titans. I’m a huge DC fanboy. But this…..

    Reply

    • Weanerdog

      January 14, 2019 at 14:27

      What about Starfire?

      Reply

    • Marigold's Revenge!

      January 14, 2019 at 14:27

      I agree, she’s really not suited for the role. Doesn’t look like the Starfire in the comics or act like it at all.

      Reply

      • RinceThis

        January 14, 2019 at 14:47

        It’s called creative licence.

        Reply

        • Marigold's Revenge!

          January 14, 2019 at 15:02

          No, it’s called dumb casting.

          Reply

          • RinceThis

            January 14, 2019 at 15:12

            Yeah, I suppose you are right. Had the casting agent just held out a bit longer a luminous, yellow looking woman would surely have walked into their office.

          • Marigold's Revenge!

            January 14, 2019 at 16:25

            What a dumb comment. What does that have to do with casting the right actor for a role?

          • Mrflappywilly

            January 14, 2019 at 22:27

            “Doesn’t look like the Starfire in the comics”

      • For the Emperor!

        January 14, 2019 at 15:07

        She might be in my top 2 (or is it bottom 2?) least favourite parts of it. More due to the character personality, as my only exposure to her is in the awesome Teen Titans Go!

        Reply

        • Weanerdog

          January 14, 2019 at 15:22

          I can’t work out our if this is savage sarcasm or not

          Reply

          • For the Emperor!

            January 14, 2019 at 15:32

            No no, I am serious. I had no problems with the looks. But in Teen Titans Go! she has such an honest, naive, sweet personality!

          • Weanerdog

            January 14, 2019 at 15:55

            Yeah, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

            I think she as a character is awesome if completely different from what I was expecting.

            But if you are not loving Starfire you are going to struggle with the series.

          • For the Emperor!

            January 14, 2019 at 15:55

            Well, I did enjoy it and did binge it, so you are wrong πŸ˜›
            She was not “bad” per se, but not my favourite πŸ™‚

    • RinceThis

      January 14, 2019 at 14:47

      Why don’t you like her? And they don’t call it Teen Titans. It’s just Titans. Mind-liked, lol.

      Reply

  7. For the Emperor!

    January 14, 2019 at 14:52

    I really enjoyed the pleasant family! While I did not like the flow of the flashbacks (I think Arrow seasons 1-4 did it better), I view this as one long origin story for Nightwing and Teen Titans. Not a 4, but not a 6. For me perhaps 5.5/10. Has issues for sure, but enjoyed binging it.

    Reply

  8. Geoffrey Tim

    January 14, 2019 at 11:00

    I’m watching it, slowly..and it’s contrived and tries too hard, but I’m enjoying it

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      January 14, 2019 at 11:07

      of course it’s contrived, it’s a superhero series πŸ˜›

      Reply

    • Captain JJ

      January 14, 2019 at 11:07

      I do feel some of the writing is hit and miss, especially dialogue, but the storytelling is good and they didn’t rush into character backstories at the speed of light either, which I respect.

      Reply

      • RinceThis

        January 14, 2019 at 11:07

        agreed, also some of the humour is completely random.

        Reply

  9. Alien Emperor Trevor

    January 14, 2019 at 11:23

    I thought Titans was a great first step for the DCU, thoroughly enjoyed it. Didn’t feel bored while watching it, great action, main characters all get a good introduction (although Gar is short changed a bit), and I enjoyed the diversions to other characters because everyone was distinct in their own way. The ending was a touch weak, but it sets up the second season really well and I’m really looking forward to that now – don’t think it needed to wrap everything up in a neat bow.

    Overall it’s a great mix of dark, cool, and fun. And Starfire is the best.

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      January 14, 2019 at 11:35

      Oh shit, he’s going to blame me…

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        January 14, 2019 at 13:41

        lol yes, that made me laugh. And the fork…

        Reply

  10. Kapitan Balalaika

    January 14, 2019 at 11:41

    A 4? What? Still going to watch.

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      January 14, 2019 at 11:48

      Nah, I’d have given it double that. Watch it, if you enjoy shows like this, you’ll love it.

      Reply

  11. CrAiGiSh

    January 14, 2019 at 12:52

    “Fuck Batman” – Dick Grayson

    10/10

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      January 14, 2019 at 14:47

      YES

      Reply

    • For the Emperor!

      January 14, 2019 at 14:57

      In the trailer, it bothered me. In context of the scene and series, it fit perfectly!

      Reply

  12. Marigold's Revenge!

    January 14, 2019 at 14:21

    I’d say it’s a 2/10 for me. I can’t even get over how bad this show is. Terrible acting, bad costumes, stupid story and a try hard attempt at everything.

    Reply

  13. Marigold's Revenge!

    January 14, 2019 at 15:12

    The only thing where I disagree with Sam is where he says that the show has “good writing”. It doesn’t, the writing is terrible. It’s almost like everything about this show was done on a shoestring budget, and it really shows.

    Reply

  14. Braaainz

    January 14, 2019 at 18:20

    I actually wonder if the Disney machine offers advertising or kickbacks to reviewers to rip apart rival shows because I thought Titans was absolutely incredible.
    Reading between the lines though, it sounds like reviewer wanted more episodes and was bitter there weren’t.

    Reply

  15. cssncasncisanc

    January 15, 2019 at 02:02

    The show is okay, but not great. Better than the cw shows imo, but not close to the quality of the Marvel Netflix shows unfortunately. What it has going for it is the characters are MOSTLY likable (except Starfire….ugh…..).
    Raven and Beast Boy are both fun, and Robin has an interesting backstory and relationship with the other characters. But sadly the show has MANY problems. First, the pacing can range from okay to really bad, with entire episodes halfway in the season dedicated to building up characters outside of the team. Thats fine in further seasons, but season one of anything needs to focus on establishing and building on their core characters and leave the world building to when they have the appropriate time. This is why Marvel movie characters are so beloved – they take the time to get them right, and leave the easter eggs in the background.
    Second, lots of elements in the story are contrived and don’t fit organically. The most obvious one is Beast Boy – he literally just shows up out of nowhere while the other characters are in the area and gets roped into the team. Well thats convenient. It wouldn’t be so bad except that his character is ultimately pointless to the show, he could be removed and basically nothing would change. Also Starfire is pretty unlikable imo.
    I could go on but I don’t care enough about this show. 6/10 is what I’d give it. Watchable, but don’t expect much.

    Reply

  16. Sencho

    January 15, 2019 at 21:11

    May I never catch myself acting like the quality of a CW superhero series is worthy of serious debate.

    Reply

  17. HavokZA

    January 15, 2019 at 21:26

    Not to re-ignite the Starfire hullaballoo or anything but why the fur coat??? And for Gods sake WHY is there a hanky hanging out of her poon???

    Reply

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